Henry Ward Beecher

Separation of church and state doesn't mean churches must stay out of politics

In his letter to the editor, "If the church wants to play politics, it should give up its tax-exempt status" (July 6), David Johnson seems to be misrepresenting the separation of church and state. It is clear that our founders believed that people should not be compelled to observe a state religion in order to gain the benefits of citizenship. There is nothing suggesting people must choose between their religion and their rights as citizens. By extension, churches can express views on behalf of their members, just as labor unions can speak for their members.

Mr. Johnson's comments about taxation may be equally misguided. It is arguable that churches are exempt from...