Churches Battle IRS for Freedom of Speech in the Pulpit
by Moody Adams Pastors across the nation are tired of being frightened into the loss of their freedom of speech by a treat of losing their tax exempt status.
“Participating pastors will exercise First Amendment rights to speak on positions of electoral candidates," Sept. 28. —Pastors participating in the Alliance Defense Fund’s “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” will preach from their pulpits Sept. 28 about the moral qualifications of candidates seeking political office. The pastors will exercise their First Amendment right to preach on the subject, despite federal tax regulations that prohibit intervening or participating in a political campaign,” reports Christian News Headlines.
“Pastors have a right to speak about Biblical truths from the pulpit without fear of punishment. No one should be able to use the government to intimidate pastors into giving up their constitutional rights,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “If you have a concern about pastors speaking about electoral candidates from the pulpit, ask yourself this: should the church decide that question, or should the IRS?”
Pulpits have been silenced about politics, homosexuality and abortion.
I want to bring in Jim Garlow. He is the pastor of Skyline church in La Mesa, California. He also is part of pulpitfreedom.org. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an event associated with the ADF Pulpit Initiative (www.telladf.org/church), a legal effort designed to secure the First Amendment rights of pastors in the pulpit. A document explaining what the Pulpit Initiative is and is not is available at www.telladf.org/UserDocs/WhatIsPI.pdf.
In a radio interview, Garlow said, “So he added a couple of sentences to the IRS code which said in effect that anyone associated with a 501(c)(3), not for profit corporation could not oppose or speak out in any way pertaining to political issues or candidates’ positions, and the result is for 57 years this law has been not one single time tested in the court because the IRS doesn’t want it to be.
“And so the Alliance Defense Fund, a group of some 2,500 Christian attorneys allied together across America hand selected a group of 33 pastors in 2008 who would stand up and intentionally defy it and then record their sermons and send them to the IRS based upon the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Nothing happened. So the next year 84 pastors in 2009 did the same thing, recorded their sermons and sent them to the IRS; nothing happened. Last year 100 pastors did it. This year somewhere between 400 to 500 pastors have so far signed up and who will be sending in their sermons after they preach October the 2nd, and the whole issue of the Sunday is not whether or not a pastor outlines exactly where our candidate stands or how you should vote. The issue is there should be no government intrusion in the pulpit at all.”