Michiana religious leaders on politics in a place of worship

NOW: Michiana religious leaders on politics in a place of worship


A new executive order has local religious leaders buzzing about whether or not politics and worship go hand in hand.

Under the presidential action, religious institutions are allowed to take political stances, short of endorsing specific candidates.

In South Bend, Reverend Mary Hubbard is opinionated about politics, but rarely addresses it in her sermons.

“I’ve told people a number of times, any time they want to know who I’m going to vote for I would be very happy to tell them. Nobody has ever asked me,” Hubbard said.

Therefore, when Hubbard’s church, First United Methodist in South Bend, found out about President Donald Trump’s order, not much changed.

“I have never felt a restriction on what i have said from the pulpit,” Hubbard said.

The executive order means religious institutions can keep their tax exempt status even if they’re involved in politics – short of endorsing a candidate.

It undermines but doesn’t undo the Johnson Amendment, a rarely used law to keep non-profits and churches out of politics, by the authority of the Treasury. 

At the United Pentecostal Church of South Bend, the pastor is pleased with the executive order.

Pastor Kenneth Mendenhall says he wishes he could have endorsed his favorite candidate, Dr. Ben Carson, during the election.

“I would have done it. I really would have,” Mendenhall said.

However, Mendenhall says he’s never been afraid to speak his mind, and while he thinks the executive order is a move in the right direction, it won’t make a big difference for him.

“In a Pentecostal church, when a pastor is behind the pulpit, he has liberty to say anything he wants, and he does,” Mendenhall said.

Hubbard said she won’t be changing things in her parish either.

“I intend to continue to withhold endorsements from specific candidates from public speech,” Hubbard said.

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