“Pulpit Freedom Sunday” To Unseal God’s Endorsement

As the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative advocacy group co-founded by Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson, wants pastors to talk politics from the pulpit on Sunday, challenging Internal Revenue Service regulations prohibiting houses of worship from mixing politics and religion.

The group is spearheading “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” by encouraging church leaders to talk about whom they’ll vote for in this year’s election, and why – even if doing so violates IRS rules that grant tax-exempt status to churches. Group officials said they hope the action will trigger an IRS investigation that they can use as a springboard to challenge the IRS and the regulation in court.

“It is the job of the church and pastor to decide whether they should talk about political issues from the pulpit,” said Erik Stanley, the group’s senior legal counsel. “It is not appropriate for the government to draw that line.”

About 30 worship centers nationwide have committed to “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” but no Colorado churches agreed to take part. Stanley said the number of participating churches, all of which risk losing their tax-exempt status, was limited intentionally to better manage litigation.

The group’s protest centers on a 1954 amendment to the tax code that prohibits 501(c)3 nonprofits, which include religious organizations, from endorsing political candidates…

If Sarah Palin’s nomination wasn’t enough to cajole religious voters back into the GOP fold, this should take care of it: after all, it’s a lot easier to “hold your nose and vote” when the consequences of failing to do so include going to Hell. A poll follows.

Should churches endorse political candidates?

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8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Arvadonian says:

    didn’t go after Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, they are not going to go after any other right wing churches.

    Nope.  They instead go after left-leaning churches (like my own denomination The United Church of Christ when we have member Barack Obama give a non-political speech at our national synod–and All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA after the Pastor there delivered an anti-war sermon in 2004).

    Links:

    UCC:

    http://wcbstv.com/campaign08/b

    Episcopal:

    http://articles.latimes.com/20

    • BlueCat says:

      as long as they relinquish their special status vis a vis taxes. They can’t have it both ways.

      • Arvadonian says:

        we may disagree on what constitutes “political”.  I don’t think having Barack Obama, a member of the denomination, speak at a national meeting is inherently political.  If he is saying, “Vote for me for President” it is…if he is saying, “My faith in God has moved me in the following ways….” then it is’nt (which, incidentally, is what he did).  If the pastor in Pasadena asks, “Who would Jesus bomb?”, I don’t think that is political.  If he says, “Vote for John Kerry because he will end the war in Iraq” then that is political.

        Conversely, if Pat Robertson runs for President, preaches that Bill Clinton should be impeached and says we should “take out” the President of Venezuela, then I think that is political.

      • GeoGreg says:

        What is the argument for prohibiting candidate endorsements by groups that receive tax-exempt donations?  That it would be a subsidy by the taxpayers for political partisans?  I know it’s rather ingrained in our culture now, but I believe it was only enacted in the 1950s.  My memory is that it was an anti-Catholic measure originally (fear of popes influencing elections and whatnot), but I might be wrong about that.

  2. Half Glass Full says:

    They can endorse anyone they want: they just don’t get their precious little TAX EXEMPTION.

    If they’re allowed to endorse and keep their exemption, then I want to be able to deduct my own political donations from taxes.

    Fair is fair.  

  3. Car 31 says:

    If churches with tax exempt status get to play politics than nonprofits should to.

    Funding tied to nonpolitical community organzation projects, coalition building projects, education projects all should be able to reach out to legislators and demand their voices heard.  

    I would rather have nonprofits speaking for the downtrodden in this country than have rich churches exploit their congregation’s beliefs by preaching from the pulpit.

    If one is able to do it, so should the other.

    One more point, the IRS should go after these churches immediately after the election.  Build a case, show the proof and take away their tax exempt status as soon as the partisanship blows away.

  4. redstateblues says:

    because getting rid of the tax-exempt status would be a massive tax increase. And taxes are inherently evil.

  5. WesternSlopeThought says:

    “Yonder comes Father Coughlin, wearin’ the silver chain, Cash on his stomach and Hitler on the brain.” —“Lindbergh”, Woody Guthrie

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