Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pastors Inflame IRS Scandal for Religious Liberty

Evangelical pastors across America, for at least the seventh year, have simultaneously preached sermons to their flocks that are said to be in defiance of federal regulations from the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt non-profit churches because the sermons guide parishioners to vote for, or against, political candidates based on Christian, Biblical values.
“I know enough that you cannot have the advancing of the radical homosexual agenda and religious liberty at the same time, in the same nation. One will win, and one will lose. . . . We have legal anarchy,”
-- Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church, east of San Diego, California
For background, read Pastors Defeating IRS on Freedom to Preach -- it's because the IRS Fears Prosecuting Churches over Politics (because the IRS will lose)

Also read Atheists & Pastors Agree: IRS Must Audit Sermons

-- From "Pulpit Freedom Sunday: Pastors versus the IRS" posted at The Porterville (California) Recorder 10/4/14

More than 3,500 pastors in all 50 states and Puerto Rico are supporting Alliance Defending Freedom’s seventh annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday Oct. 5. Nearly 1,500 of the registered pastors have agreed to preach sermons presenting biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates, and more than 3,500 have signed a statement agreeing that the IRS should not control the content of a pastor’s sermon. Registration, which stays open until the date of the event, continues to grow.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Study: Americans want more religion in politics" by Sara Grossman, Special to CNN 10/10/14

The pastor [Jim Garlow] proceeded to warn his audience against voting for a candidate in the upcoming midterm elections who supports gay marriage and abortion, even if that candidate, Carl DeMaio, is a Republican.

Garlow, an outspoken evangelical who played a major role in organizing Christian groups in support of California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, spoke plainly: He would not be supporting the Republican in this race.

Instead, Garlow told his followers he would be endorsing DeMaio’s rival, Democratic incumbent Scott Peters, representative for California’s 52nd District, to send a scathing message to Republican leadership that candidates who back abortion and gay rights are unacceptable to the party’s Christian base.

Garlow is one of a growing number of Americans who say that religion should play a greater role in politics, according to the findings of a recent study by the Pew Research Forum's Religion & Public Life Project.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Preaching Politics, Pastors Defy Ban" by Tamara Audi, Wall Street Journal 10/5/14

For the past seven years, hundreds of churches have intentionally delivered political sermons to address the issue on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an annual event organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based conservative group that fights for religious accommodation claims.

A Pew Research Center study released last month showed that nearly three-quarters of Americans believe religion is losing influence in the lives of Americans, and that more citizens want religious leaders to weigh in on political issues.

It also comes months after the IRS assured an atheist group that it is enforcing the political speech regulation on churches. That group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, agreed to the dismissal of a 2012 federal civil lawsuit against the IRS over the issue after receiving indications from the government that the IRS “has a procedure in place…to initiate church tax investigations/examinations,” court documents said.

But some church leaders have complained the regulation is unclear and say “vague and unequal enforcement” has led to pastors pulling back on social commentary that could be construed as political, said Kerri Kupec, a spokeswoman for the Alliance Defending Freedom.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Pulpit Freedom Sunday witnessed preachers talking politics, daring IRS to take action" by Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News posted at Hesperia (California) Star 10/7/14

Preachers who injected politics into their sermons this past Sunday weren't just speaking to their respective congregations. Their messages were directed to the Internal Revenue Service, daring tax regulators to pay attention to the seventh annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

The Alliance Defending Freedom's explanation of the event calls it a "strategic litigation plan." The document is filled with First Amendment language, as the organization discusses how current restrictions are not just inconvenient, but also unconstitutional.

"Through the courage of individual churches, freedoms of speech and religion will be restored to many more," the alliance proclaims.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Increasingly, Religious 'Nones' Support Pastors Preaching Politics on Pulpit Freedom Sunday" by Ruth Moon, Christianity Today 10/3/14

As almost 1,500 pastors attempt to provoke the IRS this Sunday by preaching political messages from their pulpits, a recent survey finds that Americans increasingly agree they should have such a right—including the religiously unaffiliated.

The Pew Research Center recently reported that nearly half of Americans (49 percent) now believe that churches (and other houses of worship) should express their views on social and political issues—including two-thirds of white evangelicals, more than half of black Protestants (who mostly identify as evangelicals), and one-third of so-called religious "nones." Support has risen most among mainline Protestants, from 35 percent in August 2010 to 49 percent in September 2014.

While ADF lists thousands of churches that have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday over the years, the IRS has only flagged a much smaller number of churches as problematic.

In a June letter, the tax agency told the U.S. Department of Justice that 99 churches "alleged to have violated the prohibition" merit “a high priority examination.” ADF lists 1,225 churches in 2013, but the IRS only cites one egregious violation that year. ADF lists 1,620 churches in 2012; the IRS cites only 65 churches. ADF lists 539 churches in 2011; the IRS cites only 18 churches.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Public Sees Religion’s Influence Waning" by Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project 9/22/14

Nearly three-quarters of the public (72%) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life, up 5 percentage points from 2010 to the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past decade. And most people who say religion's influence is waning see this as a bad thing.

Perhaps as a consequence, a growing share of the American public wants religion to play a role in U.S. politics. The share of Americans who say churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues is up 6 points since the 2010 midterm elections (from 43% to 49%). The share who say there has been “too little” expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders is up modestly over the same period (from 37% to 41%). And a growing minority of Americans (32%) think churches should endorse candidates for political office, though most continue to oppose such direct involvement by churches in electoral politics.

The findings reflect a widening divide between religiously affiliated Americans and the rising share of the population that is not affiliated with any religion (sometimes called the “nones”). The public’s appetite for religious influence in politics is increasing in part because those who continue to identify with a religion (e.g., Protestants, Catholics and others) have become significantly more supportive of churches and other houses of worship speaking out about political issues and political leaders talking more often about religion. The “nones” are much more likely to oppose the intermingling of religion and politics.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also click headlines below to read how the vast majority of Christian leaders will NOT challenge wayward government:

America Going to Hell; Christians Lose Convictions

'Wimpy' Pastors Will NOT Engage the War on Christianity

Study: Pastors Hide Culture Truth to be Successful