There is, apparently, no escape from the presidential campaign. Most regular churchgoers say their clergy have been talking about the election, according to a new poll, although few appear to be endorsing candidates from the pulpit.
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press said 52% of regular churchgoers have heard their clergy talk about the importance of voting in the election, but only 19% say there has been talk about specific candidates. Under federal law, houses of worship risk their tax-exempt status if they take sides in a partisan race.
Black Protestants, however, are far more likely than other groups to hear political talk from their pastor, the poll found. Forty percent said they had heard their pastor talk about a candidate, and in every case that candidate was President Obama, the survey found. Seventy-nine percent said their minister had spoken about the importance of voting -- a staple topic in African American churches since the Civil Rights era.
White mainline Protestants (such as Presbyterians, Methodists and Episcopalians) were the least likely to hear talk of politics in church, with only 5% reporting that they had heard their pastors talk about specific candidates. Catholics and white evangelical Protestants were somewhere in the middle.