Sunday, September 01, 2013

Atheists & Pastors Agree: IRS Must Audit Sermons

A federal judge has ruled that the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation can sue the federal Internal Revenue Service for not enforcing a 1954 law that restricts churches from endorsing political candidates, and many evangelical pastors say to the IRS concerning the scrutiny, "Bring it on!"
“[The atheists] will win our case. The very thing they are trying to prevent – conservative, biblical political speech from the pulpit – they will exonerate as constitutional.”
-- Dan Cummins, pastor of Bridlewood Church in Bullard, Texas, and founder of Come Pray With Me
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)

However, only some pastors make the effort to be freed of the IRS muzzle.  Will 'Wimpy' Pastors Engage the War on Christianity?

-- From "Atheist group can sue IRS over enforcement of pulpit politicking" by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service, posted at Washington Post 8/23/13

FFRF, a Wisconsin-based group for atheists and agnostics, filed a lawsuit after the 2012 elections, arguing that a lack of IRS enforcement was unfair. The IRS filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying taxpayers often do not have standing to sue other taxpayers.

On Monday (Aug. 19), U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Wisconsin [Western District] denied the motion, writing that FFRF “has standing to seek an order requiring the IRS to treat religious organizations no more favorably than it treats the Foundation.”

Observers found the judge’s decision significant because similar attempts in the past have failed. For instance, groups have tried to sue over the Catholic Church’s involvement in anti-abortion activism. “It is a tactic that’s been used before, but without success,” said Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. “I can’t see it going anywhere.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Judge OKs Atheist Group's Suit Against IRS Over Church Politicking Ban Enforcement" by Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter 8/21/13

[Judge Adelman wrote,] "If it is true that the IRS has a policy of not enforcing the prohibition on campaigning against religious organizations, then the IRS is conferring a benefit on religious organizations (the ability to participate in political campaigns) that it denies to all other § 501(c)(3) organizations, including the Foundation."

In 1954, Congress passed the Johnson Amendment. According to the amendment's language, tax-exempt entities, such as churches, cannot "participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of – or in opposition to – any candidate for public office."

Critics of the Johnson Amendment, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, have argued that the rule effectively "muzzles" the free speech of clergy by threatening removal of their tax-exempt status should they endorse a candidate from the pulpit.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Evangelical body supports politicking in the pulpit" by John Dart, Christian Century 8/29/13

A report prepared by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability—a watchdog body that advises evangelical churches and ministries on good business practices—was given to Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa).

. . . ECFA commission chairman Michael E. Batts wrote to Grassley: “It is both disturbing and chilling that the federal government regulates the speech of religious organizations.” His Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations asserted in its report that “members of the clergy should be able to say whatever they believe is appropriate” in their religious contexts. IRS guidelines also “are often vague, causing uncertainty as to what is permissible,” added the report.

The ECFA said its recommendations came from 14 commission members and “66 panel members representing every major faith group in America.” . . .

In another survey, a Pew Research Center poll asked churchgoers last October whether their clergy had spoken about presidential candidates at their churches. About one in five (19 percent) said they had. Four in ten worshipers in black Protestant churches said their pastors have spoken directly about the candidates.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Pastors chuckle as atheists fight feds for them" by Gina Loudon, Ph.D., World Net Dailly 8/31/13

The pastors, in an initiative organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, have been preaching what they believe the Bible says regarding current political issues and then informing the IRS of their actions. They’ve been trying to convince the IRS to bring a case against one of the ministers.

They believe the IRS intentionally is ignoring their statements to avoid a confrontation over the 1954 Johnson Amendment that purports to silence some speech in the United States through IRS regulations.

Pastors who spoke with WND believe that the only way to get rid of the Johnson Amendment is to get audited by the IRS and have the case go to the Supreme Court, where they believe it will be ruled unconstitutional.

The Black Robe Regiment is a group of pastors who insist the First Amendment doesn’t stop at sanctuary doors. They argue that all laws are based on someone’s morality and point to the time-tested Judeo-Christian principles espoused by the Founding Fathers.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

In addition, read President Obama Redefines 1st Amendment Freedom of Religion and yet President Obama Denies Leading War Against Christianity, and also read Religious Liberty & Anti-Christian Totalitarianism