Many of America’s religious public policy organizations are divided on campaign finance reform.
Those on the religious right argue against reform on free speech grounds.
In a joint letter to the United States Senate in 1999, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Christian Coalition expressed “strong opposition” to the McCain-Feingold bill. They argued the legislation would restrict their ability to engage in “issue advocacy.”
The letter said they opposed “any legislation that would curtail the established First Amendment rights of citizen groups and political parties to engage in unrestricted speech about political figures.”
Some pundits speculated the NRLC criticized Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., over the issue of abortion during the presidential primaries because he advocated campaign finance reform. These pundits noted that McCain’s position on abortion and then Governor George W. Bush’s are almost identical.
Mainline Protestant agencies and religious left organizations support reform as a justice issue.
“We know that the temptation to buy unjust favors is an ancient one,” wrote Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Citing Old Testament texts related to justice, Pelavin wrote, “The current campaign finance system runs afoul of these common religious traditions by creating every incentive for politicians to give priority to those special interests who have made campaign donations.”
The director of the office of church and society for the United Church of Christ and the director of governmental relations for the Episcopal Church both support campaign finance reform as a matter of social justice.