Monday, September 24, 2012

Will 'Wimpy' Pastors Engage War on Christianity?

One thousand American pastors are challenging their fellow heretofore spineless church leaders to stand up to the federal government's totalitarian effort to curtail religious liberty.  Pastors are being called to preach to election issues on "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" (October 7th), urging their congregations to vote consistent with Biblical principles, thus endorsing particular candidates from the pulpit -- a direct challenge to the never-enforced IRS restrictions on churches.

For background, read Pastors Defeating IRS on Freedom to Preach -- it's because the IRS Fears Prosecuting Churches over Politics

UPDATE 9/1/13 - Atheists & Pastors Agree: IRS Must Audit Sermons

Also read Religious Liberty & Anti-Christian Totalitarianism as well as Catholic Bishops Throw Down Gauntlet: Obama War on Christianity

UPDATE 2/16/14: America Going to Hell; Christians Lose Convictions

From "Pastors To Challenge IRS Ban On Political Speech With 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday'" by Meredith Bennett-Smith, The Huffington Post 9/20/12

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of American pastors plan on challenging the Internal Revenue Service next month, endorsing specific candidates in an attempt to force the courts to decide if politics should be allowed in the pulpit.

Dubbed "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," the Oct. 7 event marks the fourth year that churches, led by conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom, have carried out the protest. Pastors [participating in] the event will “preach sermons that will talk about the candidates running for office” and then “make a specific recommendation,” Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the ADF, said.

Last year hundreds of pastors participated in the special Sunday event, preaching about American politics and hot-button issues including same-sex marriage and abortion, according to The New York Times. The politically charged sermons were recorded and sent to the IRS to prove the pastors' violations of a 1954 tax code amendment banning such discourse.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "As churches get political, IRS stays quiet" by Nanette Byrnes, Reuters 6/21/12

The situation is fraught with peril for the IRS, which needs to be seen as apolitical. When it cracks down on political activities proscribed by the 501(c)(3) regulations [that restrict church free speech], it is inevitably branded as partisan.

When the target is a church, mosque or synagogue, enforcement puts two fundamental American values at odds: freedom of speech and the separation of church and state. Although the agency has enforced the tax-exemption rules against churches in the past, it has so far ignored the provocations of Freedom Sunday.

The IRS has also been silent about the increasingly aggressive political activity of the U.S. Catholic bishops, who have called for their own Fortnight for Freedom [in June]. Masses, rallies, and parish bulletins are being mobilized against the Obama administration's healthcare regulations on contraceptives.

IRS church audits seem to have halted entirely in January 2009. That was when Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, successfully appealed an IRS audit. In question were an endorsement of Republican Michele Bachmann for Congress by pastor James Hammond and financial deals that may have benefited him personally, a violation of IRS rules.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Pastors pledge to defy IRS, preach politics from pulpit ahead of election" by Cristina Corbin, 9/23/12

The defiant move, they hope, will prompt the IRS to enforce a 1954 tax code [the Johnson Amendment] that prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from making political endorsements. Alliance Defending Freedom, which is holding the October summit, said it wants the IRS to press the matter so it can be decided in court. The group believes the law violates the First Amendment by “muzzling” preachers.

“The purpose is to make sure that the pastor -- and not the IRS -- decides what is said from the pulpit,” Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the group, told “It is a head-on constitutional challenge.”

“We’re hoping the IRS will respond by doing what they have threatened,” he said. “We have to wait for it to be applied to a particular church or pastor so that we can challenge it in court. We don’t think it’s going to take long for a judge to strike this down as unconstitutional.”

Stanley and others, like San Diego pastor Jim Garlow, say the IRS regularly threatens churches that they will lose their tax-exempt status if they preach politics. But Stanley and Garlow claim the government never acts on the threat because it wants to avoid a court battle.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "IRS Complaint Filed Against Colo. Christian Group for Endorsing Republicans" by Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter 9/21/12

A Washington, D.C.-based church-state watchdog group has filed a complaint to the IRS against a Colorado-based Christian group, saying they violated tax-exemption rules by endorsing a political party.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent the complaint on Wednesday against Ridgway Christian Center, an organization connected to Praise Him Ministries. The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, wrote the letter to the IRS in response to a fall 2012 publication of RCC which apparently endorsed the Republican Party for the upcoming elections.

According to Erik Stanley of ADF, groups like Americans United have used the Johnson Amendment to "scare churches."

"It's ironic that an organization committed to the 'separation of church and state' is arguing for more governmental monitoring and control of churches and pastors."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read President Obama Denies Leading War Against Christianity