October 7, 2008

Story Ideas: Election Year Issues

From the Pew Trust Surveys, some story ideas on religion and immigration

Politics and Religion

Americans Wary of Church Involvement in Partisan Politics

Oct 01, 2008

On Sunday, Sept. 28, more than two dozen pastors challenged a provision in the tax code that restricts the political activities of houses of worship and other tax-exempt organizations. Arguing that they have a constitutional right to speak out on political issues, the pastors discussed the 2008 presidential candidates from the pulpit and, in some cases, endorsed a particular candidate.

On Sept. 29, the church-state watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service based on the political content of six of these sermons. The Alliance Defense Fund, the conservative legal-advocacy group that organized “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” has said that if the IRS tries to penalize the houses of worship for their pastors’ political advocacy, it will bring a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of these penalties.

Whatever the legal merits of the ADF’s protest and Americans United’s complaints, and regardless of the eventual outcome, many Americans clearly are uncomfortable with churches participating in partisan politics. While a strong majority of Americans support religion’s role in public life, a solid majority also expresses opposition to churches coming out in favor of particular political candidates.


Trends in Unauthorized Immigration: Undocumented Inflow Now Trails Legal Inflow

Oct 02, 2008

There were 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in March 2008, according to new Pew Hispanic Center estimates. The size of the unauthorized population appears to have declined since 2007, but this finding is inconclusive because of the margin of error in these estimates.

However, it is clear from the estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population grew more slowly in the period from 2005 to 2008 than it did earlier in the decade.

It also is clear that from 2005 to 2008, the inflow of immigrants who are undocumented fell below that of immigrants who are legal permanent residents. That reverses a trend that began a decade ago. The turnaround appears to have occurred in 2007.

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