Lansing, Mich. — State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would protect the right of pastors and religious leaders to speak openly about political matters.
“Just because someone preaches from the pulpit does not mean that they should lose their right to free speech,” Colbeck said.
Under current Michigan election law, priests, pastors, curates, or other officers of a religious society are barred from influencing America’s election process; they are not allowed under current law to advise congregants and constituents on voting and policy issues, without the threat of criminal prosecution.
“This stands in strong contradiction to the rights outlined in both the U.S. and Michigan constitutions,” Colbeck said. “The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly outlines the right to free exercise of religion for all people: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…’ And Article 1, Section 4 of the Michigan Constitution states the following: ‘Every person shall be at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. … The civil and political rights, privileges and capacities of no person shall be diminished or enlarged on account of his religious belief.’”
Senate Bill 832 would affirm the rights of pastors and religious leaders to free speech and free exercise of religion under the First Amendment, rights that all U.S. citizens should be able to enjoy.
SB 832 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Elections and Government Reform for further consideration.