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Pastors Challenge Law, Endorse Candidates From Pulpit
ABC News ^ | 6/20/08 | RUSSELL GOLDMAN

Posted on 06/20/2008 8:09:07 AM PDT by XR7

Few Americans would invite an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, but that's exactly what Minnesota pastor Gus Booth wanted when he stood behind his pulpit and told his congregation God wanted them to vote Republican.

In an election where candidates openly discuss their faith and are regularly seen in churches, and a time when pastors' sermons lead the politics sections of newspapers, one might be excused for not knowing that it is illegal for a church to endorse or oppose a candidate for president.

But when Booth addressed the members of his Warroad Community Church one Sunday in May and told them, "If you are a Christian, you cannot support a candidate like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for president," he very much knew he was violating the law. He even wrote a letter to the IRS explaining what he had said and challenging the tax collection agency to do something about it.

Churches and other non-profit groups like charities and universities do not have to pay taxes. That exemption, however, comes with a price. Churches, and by extension the pastors who serve them in an official capacity, are not allowed to endorse or oppose political candidates.

Booth, 34, is one of several religious leaders who this year hope to challenge federal law by flouting the regulations about endorsing candidates from the pulpit, a move that could potentially cost them their tax-exempt status, creating financial ruin for many congregations.

The separation of church and state may be one of our democracy's most vaunted values...

Booth and other religious leaders who want to challenge the government believe their rights to freedom of speech and religion, enshrined in the First Amendment, permit them to say whatever they want, wherever they want. Those rights, they say, should trump a 54-year-old tax code...

(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...


TOPICS: Front Page News; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2008endorsements; 501c3; christianvote; churchandstate; electionpresident; elections; firstamendment; govwatch; internalrevenue; irs; nobama08; pastor; politicking
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[H]e stood behind his pulpit and told his congregation God wanted them to vote Republican.

Anybody disagree with him?
So why register your church with the IRS and agree not to endorse candidates in the first place?

1 posted on 06/20/2008 8:09:08 AM PDT by XR7
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To: XR7

Unfortunately it often happens the other way around - Democrats.

It is possible to avoid this entirely by citing scripture and saying that Christians need to vote for the pro life, pro family candidates. Then handout questionnaires/checklists of where everyone stands after the service.


2 posted on 06/20/2008 8:12:42 AM PDT by ElkGroveDan (The road to hell is paved with the stones of pragmatism.)
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To: XR7

....Sharpton and Jackson laughing their asses off right now


3 posted on 06/20/2008 8:13:01 AM PDT by lormand (Support your local and state Conservative representative in November (assuming you have one))
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To: lormand

Hey!!!!!!

I agree with you!!!

:-)


4 posted on 06/20/2008 8:17:04 AM PDT by fishtank (FIRST defeat Obama. ------------------ THEN resist McCain. ---------- A good plan.)
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To: XR7
Well, someone forgot to tell him that only democrats are allowed to flout this law with impunity -

the there's the WWJD thingy - He kept the two entities separated: "Render unto Caesar..." and

his action is akin to the folk who refuse to pay income tax and end up behind bars, with nada accomplished - and lastly -

I wonder if he first got his congregations approval to put the church in jeopardy of financial ruin?

Sometimes, whistling into the wind is just a futile act. Spitting into the wind is a foolish one.

..

5 posted on 06/20/2008 8:18:13 AM PDT by maine-iac7 (No trees were killed in sending this message but a large number of electrons were terrible agitated)
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To: XR7

You suck at the master’s teat, you play by the master’s rules.


6 posted on 06/20/2008 8:21:28 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: maine-iac7
"Render unto Caesar..."

They rendered their church unto Caesar when they voluntarily registered as a 501c3 corporation with the IRS.
The IRS giveth and the IRS taketh away.

7 posted on 06/20/2008 8:21:41 AM PDT by XR7
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To: XR7

Without going to the link, is there any mention of Democrats and “Black Churches” or Jessie, or Al or Jermemiah?


8 posted on 06/20/2008 8:22:44 AM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: fishtank
"I agree with you!!!"

Bro, we probably agree on 98% of issues. We just disagree on your favorite talk show host, and maybe favorite flavor of Ice Cream (Chocolate).

9 posted on 06/20/2008 8:26:38 AM PDT by lormand (Support your local and state Conservative representative in November (assuming you have one))
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To: maine-iac7
the there's the WWJD thingy - He kept the two entities separated: "Render unto Caesar..." and

One of the most mis-quoted scriptures in the bible.

Mostly used by preachers who want to discourage their congregants from getting involved in politics, usually left-leaning pastors.

The problem is that as a Christian, I am required to be responsible to Christ's edicts in all facets of my life and that includes politics.
10 posted on 06/20/2008 8:31:36 AM PDT by SoConPubbie (GOP: If you reward bad behavior all you get is more bad behavior.)
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To: XR7

There are so many ways a pastor can talk politics as far as who and who not to vote for you just have to word it right. without ever mentioning a party by name just layout what a supposed good Christian should and should not stand for based on Biblical truths.


11 posted on 06/20/2008 8:33:12 AM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: XR7

If I want an unsolicited worthless political opinion, I can always rely on the MSM. When I go to church, I would like to learn something about spiritual things that I do not already know. And what I do not know about spiritual things is infinite. When it comes to politics I know too much, I have to make a simple choice. Do I choose the Devil I do know or do I choose the Devil I don’t know.


12 posted on 06/20/2008 8:39:02 AM PDT by Biblebelter
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To: XR7

First of all, ‘separation of church and state’ appears no where in the U.S. Constitution; it’s a fabrication allegedly founded on the ‘establishment’ clause. Secondly, this IRS harassment will focus exclusively on white conservative institutions and completely ignore the goings on in churhes operated by the likes of Reverend Wright (that would be racist-Wright gets mentioned, finally, at page 3 of the above article). This selective persecution will get a ‘pass’ from the MSM, as did the Clintons use of the FBI to gather intelligence on political enemies and the selective use of IRS audits to intimidate conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation. An Obama presidency, along with the full support of the alleged ‘watchdog’ media, will be the beginning of the end of civil liberties in America. As is is now on many college campuese, the key to survival will be KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AND DO NOTHING TO REVEAL YOUR THOUGHTS.


13 posted on 06/20/2008 8:40:07 AM PDT by Spok (Liberty lives only in proportion to wholesome restraint.)
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To: XR7

The worst that can happen is the church will lose its tax-free status. Some would say, myself included, that this would be a good thing. Now the pastor is truly free to preach the whole Word of God without any government restrictions. He could back any candidate he wanted to and even name names. They may have to cut a program or two because of a tighter budget, though.


14 posted on 06/20/2008 8:41:38 AM PDT by liege
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To: XR7
I notice the article never mentions the pro-Obama statements made by the pastors of Obama's former church.

(I gag when I say former church because Obama only gave up his membership for political purposes, not because he disagrees with anything that was preached there.)

15 posted on 06/20/2008 8:43:19 AM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall cause you to vote against the Democrats.)
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To: TexasCajun

No.


16 posted on 06/20/2008 8:44:07 AM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall cause you to vote against the Democrats.)
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To: XR7
Black pastors not only endorse candidates from the pulpit, they actually pass the hat in the candidate's presence and give the donations to those candidates (of course, so do the Buddists, i.e. AlGore.)

Other "non-profit, tax-exempt organizations as well have no problem with endorsing liberal candidates: NEA, Planned Parenthood, et al.

It is only when conservstive congregations and pastors come out favoring pro-life, pro-family, pro-faith messages from the bible, face IRS "investigations" (some might refer to them as "inquisitions") from the secular, leftist, hate-mongering "IRS".

And then only when "congressional or private citizens" report them and have the strong arm of the (in)Justice Department come after them.

17 posted on 06/20/2008 8:44:18 AM PDT by zerosix (native sunflower)
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To: XR7

I’ve fought against leftist politics in my own church but I’ve backed off my earlier position of banning politics in the pulpit. My position is now that they can do as they please, but I reserve the right to debate, withhold funds, or just leave.


18 posted on 06/20/2008 8:47:11 AM PDT by jimfree (Freep and Ye shall find.)
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To: XR7

This is clearly designed to create a test case. If the pastor has the approval of his board of deacons (or it’s equivalent), then more power to him.

It is constitutionally questionable that the United States restricts constitutional rights in order for a bona fide religious organization to be tax exempt.


19 posted on 06/20/2008 9:06:16 AM PDT by GreenLanternCorps (No Surrender, No Retreat!!! Only one candidate will win the war, and it's not Barack Obama!)
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To: XR7
You don't tug on superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don't mess around with jim

--Jim Croce

20 posted on 06/20/2008 9:27:24 AM PDT by mc5cents (Show me just what Mohammd brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman)
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To: XR7

The problem is two-fold:
First, the government has double standards and the black churches host Democrtas all the time and support these candidates through demagoguery on a weekly basis. But a white/black/yellow/red/blue/green person who endorses or hosts a conservative/GOP candidate is threatened with loss of tax exemption. Heck, one doesn’t even have to be close to a Republican to be threatened. Only mention opposition to abortion or homosexuality from the pulpit and you may be jailed for hate speech.

Second: Churches ought to be advocates for the adoration of the living God; not be spewing political messages which get in the way of any growth of holiness in the congregation.


21 posted on 06/20/2008 9:43:13 AM PDT by Gumdrop
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To: XR7

A person has a right to free speech in America.

501c3 charities voluntarily give up that freedom in exchange for a non-profit tax status.

I agree that they cannot engage in advocacy.

I wish that ABCDisney would not practice deceit and expose ALL churches that endorse or oppose a candidate. Trinity did just that when they disparaged the continued candidacy of Mrs. Clinton.

And how about NPR, PBS, and Pacifica Radio?

Defund the left. Expose the tax cheats.


22 posted on 06/20/2008 9:49:45 AM PDT by weegee (In 1988 Lenora Fulani was the 1st black woman to appear on presidential ballots in all 50 states)
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To: zerosix

The power to tax is the power to destroy.


23 posted on 06/20/2008 9:51:41 AM PDT by weegee (In 1988 Lenora Fulani was the 1st black woman to appear on presidential ballots in all 50 states)
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To: XR7
This has to do with Republican vs Democrat rather than conservative/white vs liberal/black churches. For one thing, "white" does not equal conservative and certainly does not equal evangelical. Black churches get more press and this is Michelle's year to shine, Al and Jessie both pretend to be preachers, but there are a whole bunch of liberal and "white" churches out there.
(Of course, it's socially easier to attack a white institution than a black institution, but it is still a political issue and not religious.)

The pastor involved here is an idiot, he's forcing an issue. He should know that the first result will be to take pressure OFF of the liberal pulpits because he's invited the feds to act on HIS lectures.
(Rev. Wright and his ilk get a break)

The article does cite opposition to abortion (etc) but points out that he identified Obama and Clinton as targets. It goes on later to note that other ministers (liberal) are better at the game because they haven't said "McCain" out loud.

Interesting, and to my point, it sticks with election issues and electionering. It does not go on to address the Catholic church's huge involvement in illegal immigration here and liberal politics in latin America.
(Maybe it's a language thing.)

As to "separation of church and state"...that's a sham, but it's another debate. THIS issue is abuse of tax exempt status and that would apply to any church that told its congregation how to vote from the pulpit, otherwise involved itself in politics, or openly broke US (immigration) laws.

Outside of official duties a minister has the same rights as I do so long as he is NOT preaching or acting as an agent of the church when mouthing off.

24 posted on 06/20/2008 9:52:07 AM PDT by norton
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To: XR7

Its about damn time. Pulpits have been silent for too long, remember it was that filthy POS LBJ who enacted this. Any church that is unwilling to speak the truth re. the bible, politicians or social issues (homos) is not worth going to. “Salt and the light.....”


25 posted on 06/20/2008 9:57:30 AM PDT by sasafras (Govt. mandated racism = Affirmative Action; Private Business Mandated Racism = Diversity Programs)
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To: liege
The worst that can happen is the church will lose its tax-free status.

I think this is the whole point of this pastor challenge. Under the First Amendment the government does not have the right to tax (to tax is to regulate behavior) the church. This would mean that the government may not take away a church's exempt status because the church is not subject to tax in the first place.

I believe I've already read that in some places that pastors cannot condemn homosexual behavior because it is "Hate Speech". This is an effort to manipulate the inner workings of the church to conform with the liberal agenda.

If this group can afford the lawyers, there's no way the IRS will allow the case to go to court - because they'd lose.

26 posted on 06/20/2008 10:15:04 AM PDT by Retired COB (Still mad about Campaign Finance Reform)
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To: XR7

Churches need to focus on Christ, not politics.

Church members do not need a pastor to tell them how to pick political candidates.

Those pastors should be fired and the churches need their tax exempt status yanked.

The Dems have doing this crap in their “churches” for years; it is wrong.
Conservatives need not follow this flawed way of behaving


27 posted on 06/20/2008 10:18:47 AM PDT by HereInTheHeartland ("We have to drain the swamp" George Bush, September 2001)
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To: XR7
[H]e stood behind his pulpit and told his congregation God wanted them to vote Republican.

Anybody disagree with him?

I think God has more important things on His plate.

28 posted on 06/20/2008 10:38:35 AM PDT by jmc813
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To: XR7

Pastors have been endorsing candidates from the pulpit for years, at least in the South.


29 posted on 06/20/2008 10:42:43 AM PDT by Amelia
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To: HereInTheHeartland

“Churches need to focus on Christ, not politics.”

Your naive. America is quickly slipping into the pot of evil and peverts and you claim that pastors shouldnt preach politics. Its because pastors have been silent that America has become a cess pool of filth. Paul didnt just talk about Jesus, he also talked about good and evil. Politicians who support homosexual marriage, abortion on demand and perversion should be spoke out against - people like you are the main reason that conservatives have lost focus. You and other RINOs have dilluted the message of free speech and allowed the liberals to control our lives.

FREE SPEECH IS WHEREEVER AND WHENEVER IF YOU DONT LIKE IT THEN GO SOMEWHERE LIKE A COMMUNIST COUNTRY AND YOU FIT RIGHT IN - WHERE PASTORS CAN ONLY SPEAK WHAT THE GOVT WANTS THEM TO SPEAK.

Not directed to you but people like you - your a bunch of freakin idiots!


30 posted on 06/20/2008 10:54:32 AM PDT by sasafras (Govt. mandated racism = Affirmative Action; Private Business Mandated Racism = Diversity Programs)
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To: HereInTheHeartland

What part of free speech do you not understand or fear? Elitist would surely agree with you that Pastors should be silent about politics (funny thing so would communist dictators). Why would you post on this board if you believe against free speech. I dont give a crap if the liberals do it, good for them. This tax law is unconstitutional, I dont fear thought or speech but apparantly you do.

Free speech is free speech, in a church, in a plane, a university or anywhere else. Wake up and realize that only liberals currently have the right to speak their mind. I guess free press only applies to liberals too, huh?


31 posted on 06/20/2008 10:54:44 AM PDT by sasafras (Govt. mandated racism = Affirmative Action; Private Business Mandated Racism = Diversity Programs)
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To: SoConPubbie
One of the most mis-quoted scriptures in the bible. (Render unto Caesar)

Mostly used by preachers who want to discourage their congregants from getting involved in politics, usually left-leaning pastors.

The problem is that as a Christian, I am required to be responsible to Christ's edicts in all facets of my life and that includes politics.

Absolutely true - as for a citizen...but when you are a church and have signed on with an agreement with the gov't about "tax free" benefits - then you have made an agreement and can't have it both ways.

Any church who wants to fore go the tax-free benefits can preach the rafters off with political sermons.

There is a difference - and that's where 'render unto Caesar' comes in.

32 posted on 06/20/2008 11:56:22 AM PDT by maine-iac7 (No trees were killed in sending this message but a large number of electrons were terrible agitated)
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To: XR7
"If you are a Christian, you cannot support a candidate like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for president,"

That is the truth indeed. Getting so you cannot vote for any republican't either. That being said, leave the politics at the door. Churches are for worshipping God, not man.

33 posted on 06/20/2008 12:11:40 PM PDT by vpintheak (Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked. Prov. 25:26)
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To: sasafras

“Free speech is free speech, in a church, in a plane, a university or anywhere else. Wake up and realize that only liberals currently have the right to speak their mind. I guess free press only applies to liberals too, huh?”

That is the Jeremiah Wright mindset. Politically active churches that are Christian in name only. They are rotten to the core and not following Christ, they are political mouthpieces.

Do you require a pastor to tell you how to think on political issues?
I don’t, and if mine does he will be admonished.

You have all the free speech you want, just do not confuse a church with a political campaign.

Leave that to Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright.


34 posted on 06/20/2008 12:19:35 PM PDT by HereInTheHeartland ("We have to drain the swamp" George Bush, September 2001)
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To: sasafras
What part of free speech do you not understand or fear?

The part that says he gets to be subsidized by the taxpayers to promote his political beliefs. He gets a break on taxes to preserve his right to express his religious beliefs. He doesn't get a break to promote Republicans or Democrats.

35 posted on 06/20/2008 12:19:40 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Retired COB
Under the First Amendment the government does not have the right to tax (to tax is to regulate behavior) the church. This would mean that the government may not take away a church's exempt status because the church is not subject to tax in the first place.

But supporting political candidates is not tax exempt. You cannot enjoy a tax-exempt income as a minister when you are actively working for a particular political candidate.

36 posted on 06/20/2008 12:25:44 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: XR7

It’s funny how so many people get upset at things like this, but a Democrat campaigning from the pulpit is perfectly acceptable.


37 posted on 06/20/2008 12:26:00 PM PDT by SaveTheChief (Chief Illiniwek (1926-2007))
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To: XR7
"[H]e stood behind his pulpit and told his congregation God wanted them to vote Republican."

Anybody disagree with him?

I do.

Given how corrupt the Party has become, and given how little its leaders actually care about conservative issues, I can't believe that God wants anything to do with them.

Voting conservative is one thing, but that doesn't mean voting Republican any more.

38 posted on 06/20/2008 1:19:49 PM PDT by highball ("I never should have switched from scotch to martinis." -- the last words of Humphrey Bogart)
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To: Non-Sequitur
You cannot enjoy a tax-exempt income as a minister when you are actively working for a particular political candidate.

You missed my point...The government doesn't have the right to tax churches no matter what is said inside the church. That being the case, they don't have the power to remove their tax exemption. Churches do not need a tax exemption.

I disagree that a pastor/priest cannot bring pressure on politicians who do not practice the tennents of their faith. The Pope can excommunicate. The pastor has an obligation to his flock to give them guidance when politicians espouse views that oppose church teachings - and the IRS doesn't have to like it!

39 posted on 06/20/2008 1:53:20 PM PDT by Retired COB (Still mad about Campaign Finance Reform)
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To: maine-iac7

Maybe so, but the law flies in the face of Freedom of speech and was put in place by then Vice-President Lyndon Johnson to muzzle the baptists (and other christian pastors) in the run-up to the Presidential election because he feared, and rightfully so, they would be preaching against him.

There is also the principle of peaceful disobediance when laws are immoral and this law is immoral, as well as unjust.

While generally the Bible, especially the New Testament, speaks loudly for obeying the laws of your country, this can only be obeyed in the context of obeying all other laws and principles proclaimed by Christ and his Apostles and his Prophets in the Old Testament.


40 posted on 06/20/2008 2:15:17 PM PDT by SoConPubbie (GOP: If you reward bad behavior all you get is more bad behavior.)
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To: Retired COB
The government doesn't have the right to tax churches no matter what is said inside the church.

The government doesn't have the right to tax churches, so long as they are churches. When they become arms of a political candidate then they are no longer a church.

I disagree that a pastor/priest cannot bring pressure on politicians who do not practice the tennents of their faith.

I don't believe the article says what denomination this church is a part of, I suspect it's a generic 'Christian' church, but I doubt that either Obama or Clinton are a part of it. He isn't criticizing their faith, but their politics. He's become a political organizer, not a preacher.

41 posted on 06/20/2008 2:23:41 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Amelia

I don’t think Christians need to be told by their pastors that they shouldn’t vote for Nobama. We can figure that out on our own.


42 posted on 06/20/2008 3:17:08 PM PDT by nobama08
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To: nobama08
I don’t think Christians need to be told by their pastors that they shouldn’t vote for Nobama. We can figure that out on our own.

So far as I can tell, there's more political activism in the black churches, but I've seen some in the white churches as well.

43 posted on 06/20/2008 4:13:36 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: vpintheak

“Churches are for worshipping God”

and how to apply it to your life, which includes not voting for Satan’s spawn


44 posted on 06/20/2008 4:14:01 PM PDT by SendShaqtoIraq
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To: XR7
Wow some of you conservatives sound like you think the gumit has the right to tax us every way it can just because it does! The people who attend a church (members) pay the freight. It is their money going to what they want it to and they already paid tax on their earnings.

ALSO....free speech is free speech is free speech.....for Christians and conservatives too.

45 posted on 06/20/2008 4:42:44 PM PDT by free_life (If you ask Jesus to forgive you and to save you, He will.)
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To: Resolute Conservative

The real question is this:

If the tax exemption only applies to a person’s donations to this particular church, what right does the Fed have to give say one man’s donations are deductible but another man’s donations are not?

This is really an artifact of our tax code.

This is not about the state deciding to tax the offering plate money of this church or any church.

If the state ever decides to tax offering plate money, the question then becomes: Do I have an unalienable right to worship, to include worshipping God through obedience to His instructions to give tithes and offerings?


46 posted on 06/20/2008 4:43:29 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain -- Those denying the War was Necessary Do NOT Support the Troops!)
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To: Amelia

I think my pastor is very careful not to get into politics, but he doesn’t need to - I believe the majority of us are pretty conservative. I really don’t want to hear politics from the pulpit. That isn’t why I go to church.


47 posted on 06/20/2008 4:49:35 PM PDT by nobama08
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To: nobama08
I really don’t want to hear politics from the pulpit. That isn’t why I go to church.

I agree with you.

48 posted on 06/20/2008 7:27:45 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: XR7

This is good. If the IRS comes after his church they also must defend their inaction going after black churches who let the democrats take the pulpits and preach politics.


49 posted on 06/20/2008 11:55:13 PM PDT by taxesareforever (Quick justice for the senseless killing of Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Crutchfield.)
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To: Non-Sequitur

“He doesn’t get a break to promote Republicans or Democrats.”

Your either naive or something else (I will refrain). The libs have been doing this forever - can you say rainbow coalition, PBS, NPR, etc........and they will continue to do this regardless. Keep living in your lala land with your head in the sand. The time has come and pass where conservatives can be silent and hope principle will prevail...marches, speeches, boycotts are what will work. Elitist attitudes that they shouldnt do this while the left has declared war on us is just plain ignorant.


50 posted on 06/22/2008 11:39:31 AM PDT by sasafras (Govt. mandated racism = Affirmative Action; Private Business Mandated Racism = Diversity Programs)
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