Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli is urging pastors to practice their right to speak freely from the pulpit, telling them that failure to do so concedes the battle over Christian values to "the other side."
At a recent "Christian Citizenship and Godly Government" breakfast hosted by the Virginia Christian Alliance, he told an audience of 250 clergy that they can speak to any issue in America from the pulpit.
Donald Blake, chairman of the Richmond-based conservative organization, said Cuccinelli was invited to speak because church leaders are looking for assurance that they can talk about political issues without risking their tax-exempt status.
Cucinnelli said pastors can speak out on issues like gay marriage and abortion without risking their tax-exempt status.
And he noted that pastors can be politically active as long as they are careful not to endorse or advocate the defeat of a candidate on behalf of the church.
Cuccinelli said it's common for Christians to think "politics is dirty" and avoid getting involved.
But when that happens, he said "You just left the field to the other side."