Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pastors Tell IRS: Get Out of My Pulpit

Today, over 100 pastors are preaching in defiance of the IRS restriction of their freedom to “participate in, or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.” The IRS threatens churches with the loss of tax-exempt status for such actions.

Read background: IRS Fears Prosecuting Churches over Politics
Experts believe the IRS would lose in court, and the entire regulation would then be null and void.

-- From "Pastors plan to 'bait' IRS with pulpit politics" by Jennifer Brooks, The Tennessean, posted at USA Today 9/25/10

While other church and nonprofit leaders cringe at the deliberate mix of the secular and the religious, participants in the annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday protest hope this act of deliberate lawbreaking will lead to a change in the law.

Participants in the [Alliance Defense Fund] pulpit protest send audio or videotape of their sermons to the IRS, but so far the agency has ignored them. The agency declined to comment on the issue, other than to share a copy of its regulations for tax-exempt religious organizations.

For the past 60 years, the IRS code has drawn a line. Places of worship can hold forums on political issues, or distribute voter guides or mobilize voter registration drives. But they cannot endorse candidates or engage in partisan political activities.

Only one church has ever been penalized for running afoul of the law — a New York congregation that took out a full-page ad in 1992 to rail against then-candidate Bill Clinton. It lost its tax-exempt status for a year.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Pastors to Challenge IRS by Talking Politics from Pulpit" by Jennifer Riley, Christian Post Reporter 9/26/10

Participants of the third annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday, organized by the Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, will use the Bible’s teachings to preach on the positions of electoral candidates or current government officials in defiance of an IRS rule proposed by then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson and passed by Congress in 1954.

“Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government – in this case, the IRS,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “ADF is not trying to get politics into the pulpit; we want to get government out of the pulpit.”

The IRS rule, ADF contends, has in effect “muzzled” pastors from speaking freely in the pulpit. It has also given groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State a “political tool” to advance its agenda to silence the Church in the public square.

“Decisions about what is preached from the pulpit of a church should not belong to the government but to the individual pastor and church itself,” wrote Chuck Colson, founder of the prison ministry Prison Fellowship and a former aide to President Richard Nixon, in a column this week.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.