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American Churches in National Politics

August 15, 1928

Report Outline
Early Political Activity of the Churches
Anti-Catholic Movements and the Protestant Clergy
The Churches and the Slavery Issue
The Churches and the Prohibition Movement
The Churches and Foreign Relations

The Asheville conference or religious leaders to organize opposition to the candidacy of Governor Smith in the South, the campaign undertaken by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union to defeat the Democratic nominee, the pledging of the support of the Christian Endeavor Society to the Republican nominee, and other activities by Protestant clergymen and religious organizations in connection with the 1928 presidential campaign have again called up for debate the old question of “the preacher in politics”. On the one hand, questions have been raised as to the wisdom and propriety of clerical activity in the political field - which have been answered, on the other, with vigorous pronouncements upon the right and duty of the spiritual leaders of the people to make their influence felt when moral questions are presented for decision by the voters in a political campaign.

In no national campaign during the last two generations have the issues - real or fancied - made a greater appeal to the church-going population and the clergy of all denominations than those raised by the positions, the personalities and the associations of the major party candidates in 1928. In the foreground stands the prohibition issue, generally regarded by the evangelical clergy as the greatest moral issue since the abolition of slavery, and in the background the issue raised by the candidacy of a communicant of the Catholic Church for President of the United States.

Organizing activity by the clergy to influence the result of the election in which these issues are to be passed upon has been confined up to this time principally to the southern and border states. Religious leaders in other parts of the country, however, have made vigorous pronouncements from their pulpits upon the issues of the campaign and political activity by the Anti-Saloon League and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union will soon be underway on a nation-wide scale.

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BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Christianity
Lobbying and Special Interests
Prohibition
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