Alliance Defense Fund to defend tax-exempt status of preaching candidates' immoral policy positions
-- From "The Pulpit Initiative: Reclaiming pastors’ constitutional right to speak Truth from the pulpit"
On Sunday, September 28, 2008, we are seeking pastors who will preach from the pulpit a sermon that addresses the candidates for government office in light of the truth of Scripture. The sermon is intended to challenge the Internal Revenue Code’s restrictions by specifically opposing candidates for office that do not align themselves and their positions with the Scriptural truth. By standing together and speaking with one voice, it is our hope to recapture the rightful place of pastors and churches in American life.
-- From "'Intimidation' of pastors at issue" by Jeff Johnson - OneNewsNow - 5/13/2008
Protecting pastors' constitutionally protected right to preach on biblical issues related to politics is the motive behind one Christian law firm's "Pulpit Initiative."
For almost the first 180 years of American history, pastors routinely addressed political issues and candidates from the pulpit. "Until about 1954, churches were free to endorse or oppose particular candidates from the pulpit -- and, in fact, churches did that," says Erik Stanley with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). "Some pastors opposed Thomas Jefferson as being a deist. Other pastors opposed William Howard Taft as a Unitarian. Some pastors opposed Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election -- and the list goes on and on."
But that changed in 1954, says Stanley, when Congress passed a law forbidding churches from endorsing or opposing candidates. The so-called "Johnson Amendment" was passed without any debate or analysis. Stanley says that provision has since been used to keep churches from speaking out when politics intrudes into moral issues addressed by scripture.
"The IRS has been used as a willing accomplice with groups like Americans United [for Separation of Church and State] to silence pastors from speaking biblical values from the pulpit," alleges the attorney. "[W]e believe that pastors ... shouldn't be intimidated into giving those up."
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