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NC Churches Keeping the Faith in Campaign Season

The North Carolina Council of Churches is discussing ways congregations can engage in the political process and educate their members without endorsing a particular candidate. (rachjose/morguefile.com)
The North Carolina Council of Churches is discussing ways congregations can engage in the political process and educate their members without endorsing a particular candidate. (rachjose/morguefile.com)
August 18, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. — It's hard to exclude morality from the conversation this election season - particularly when discussing polarizing issues like immigration, a woman's right to choose and proposals to ban people of a particular faith from the country.

For many North Carolinians, morality is rooted in faith. And in September, congregation leaders will gather at a series of workshops to get a better understanding of just what can be said from behind the pulpit.

The North Carolina Council of Churches organized the event, and executive director Jennifer Copeland said discussions about the election can happen without referencing a candidate or political party.

"I can't go tell everybody to vote for this person for governor or that person for governor,” Copeland said. "What can I do on behalf of my faith tradition that says, 'Look, these are the things that people of faith need to be paying attention to; these are the issues that are important for people who follow a God that believes in peace’?"

The "Keeping Sacred Spaces Sacred” workshops will take place in Greenville, Durham, Charlotte and Asheville from September 20 to 23. Registration is $15 and space is limited.

Because of their tax-exempt status, churches are prohibited from endorsing a political candidate.

Choosing which candidates and party to support is a personal decision, Copeland said. But faith can help guide individuals.

"I do think that what happens in a lot of more progressive and sometimes mainline, moderate to progressive churches,” she said, "is we just don't talk about this stuff from the pulpit because we think, 'Oh, that's political.' But it's not so much political as it is a faith claim."

According to Copeland, current policy debates regarding living wages, gun control and voting rights are examples of issues where faith values may influence one's position.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC