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We live in troubling times. We need guidance about marriage, life, coveting our neighbors’ goods, porn in schools, caring for the poor, and how to truly make America great again.

We have typically received this guidance from the pulpit. But many pastors are silent on the issues that matter most.

Many are afraid of violating the constitutional requirement for the “separation of church and state.” But this so-called “separation” is a myth. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly protects the “free exercise” of faith. It is supposed to protect the pulpit from the state — not the other way around.

Churches are afraid of losing their federal tax exempt status under the 1954 “Johnson Amendment” if their pastor speaks out on political matters. Not all are afraid, though.

Thousands of pastors have recorded overtly political sermons and sent a copy to the IRS as part of Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The IRS has yet to prosecute a single pastor because it would risk a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that would likely strike down the unconstitutional Johnson Amendment.

Some pastors may even be intimidated by an 1877 Michigan law that makes the expression of political views as a pastor subject to a misdemeanor with a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. During its 139 years on the books, no one has been tried in accordance with this law. I have introduced a bill to finally remove this unconstitutional state law from the books.

Why do we need guidance from our pastors? Look no further than scripture: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

America relies upon self-governance to keep us strong. In the absence of self-governance, our elected officials will pile on more laws to regulate our behavior until we become indistinguishable from the nations our immigrants sought to leave.

For America to be truly great again, we need to remember what it is to be good. Throughout our history, that guidance has always come from the pulpit.

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck is a Canton Township Republican.

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