Conservative legal advocates are recruiting pastors nationwide to defy an IRS ban on preaching about politicians, in a challenge they hope will abolish the restriction.The ADF pledges to "equip, protect, and defend" pastors who wish to participate. And that is exactly what ADF was founded to do: protect and defend religious liberty.
The Alliance Defense Fund, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., will ask the clergy to deliver a sermon about specific candidates Sept. 28. If the action triggers an IRS investigation, the legal group will sue to overturn the federal rules, which were enacted in 1954.
Many people have come to believe that the prohibitions seen in the tax code are Constitutional in nature and have been in place since the founding of the nation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
From the ADF white paper on Pulpit Freedom Sunday:
The 1954 amendment, offered by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, stated that non-profit tax-exempt entities could not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.” No official reason was given for the amendment, but scholars believe that Johnson offered the amendment to restrict the speech of a private foundation that supported a political opponent. Since the amendment passed, the IRS has steadfastly maintained that any speech by churches about candidates for office, including sermons from the pulpit, can result in loss of tax exemption.
The amendment dramatically impacted churches’ exercise of First Amendment rights. Historically, churches have frequently and fervently spoken for and against candidates for office. Such sermons date from the founding of America, including sermons against Thomas Jefferson for being a deist; sermons opposing William Howard Taft as a Unitarian; and sermons opposing Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election. Churches have also been at the forefront of most of the significant societal and governmental changes in our history including ending segregation and child labor and advancing civil rights.
Churches already have the freedom to speak out on ballot initiatives, as many did in 2006 and are currently doing in favor of Initiated Measure 11, the 2008 South Dakota pro-life initiative.
But the tax code which wrongly prohibits against speaking out for or against a candidate on the basis of their moral stances is often used to intimidate churches from even exercising the freedom they do have.
This unconstitutional restriction on free and religious speech should be eliminated to clear the way for speech on candidates who will clearly advance or set back moral values in the public square, and it should be removed so that it can no longer be used as a threat against even speaking out in favor of moral ballot initiatives.
Churches should spend most of their time worshipping God, equipping the church members for Christian living, and reaching the lost. But they should not forfeit their duty to be salt and light in a free society.
But surprise, surprise, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says they'll tattle if pastors participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday:
They said Friday that they will notify the agency of any pastor who participates in the ADF campaign.
Uh, I think that's the idea, guys. It'll take bringing the issue before the courts to knock down this unconstitutional law.
The Baptist Join Committee for Religious Liberty (another of those misnomer organizations like the pro-abortion "South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families") also opposes the religious liberty of being able to speak from the pulpit for or against candidates who support or oppose moral initiatives in the public square.
J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington, which advocates for religious freedom, said churches should be involved in public issues, but partisan activity can “compromise the essential calling to spread the Gospel.”
That's interesting that the BJC would say this, since they are a liberal activist group which lobbies government to advance liberal policies. Seems like that boat's already sailed for the BJC.
The Christian worldview which spawned, founded and shaped this nation for nearly 200 years has been on the defensive for the last 50 years. Back then, secularists rose up and pushed against Christianity...and Christianity folded and ran. Some Christians eventually rallied about 20 years later and started working to halt the advance of secularism, liberalism and immorality, but they've been on the defensive the whole time.
It's time we went on the offensive. You don't win wars fighting on the defensive. You don't reconquer ground by fighting on the defensive.
And if this nation, along with all its freedoms--religious and otherwise--is to survive, a lot of moral ground is going to have to be retaken.
I am greatly encouraged to finally see a major Christian organization launch an offensive initiative.
Not all churches may be able to get behind this. Some may be too small, with bivocational pastors who simply cannot fight this fight. But there are many larger churches with considerable resources and full-time paid staff that should be able to take on this fight. For the good of us all, I pray that many will do so.
South Dakota has an ADF allied attorney in Stephen Wesolick in Rapid City. I'm sure he will be involved in any cases which may arise out of this, and will have the full resources of the ADF at his disposal.
Now is not the time for timidity. Now is the time to be the salt and light this troubled world needs.