Polluting The Pulpit?: Virginia Attorney General Urges (Right-Wing) Churches To Be Political

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been a thorn in Americans United’s side for the past few years. A staunch ally of the Religious Right, Cuccinelli seems to have no problem using government to promote right-wing theology.

His 2010 memo on government-sponsored holiday displays was less than helpful. Americans United had to issue a statement warning that towns that took his advice without additional legal counsel might get sued.

Yesterday, Cuccinelli appeared at a Virginia Christian Alliance (VCA) breakfast in Fredericksburg to brief pastors on the law relating to political activity. He correctly reminded his audience that churches can’t endorse candidates, for example, and he distributed a handout reprinting some information made available by the Internal Revenue Service.

But Cuccinelli also blithely told the pastors that their churches can distribute voter guides – without warning them that most guides are produced by partisan operations intended to steer congregants toward certain candidates. Handing out biased guides is a clear violation of federal tax law.

Regardless of the specifics of his remarks, however, I had to wonder what Cuccinelli was doing there in the first place. Turns out he wanted to help the VCA, a hardball Religious Right outfit, prod churches to get more involved in political issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

“You have a lot of freedom of action, and I would encourage you to use it,” Cuccinelli said.

Since when is it the attorney general’s job to urge churches to dive into politics?

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