Skip to comments.Ban on Political Endorsements by Pastors Targeted
Posted on 09/08/2008 7:24:12 AM PDT by markomalley
CHICAGO -- Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.
The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.
"For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church," ADF attorney Erik Stanley said. "It is the job of the pastors of America to debate the proper role of church in society. It's not for the government to mandate the role of church in society."
Yet an opposing collection of Christian and Jewish clergy will petition the IRS today to stop the protest before it starts, calling the ADF's "Pulpit Initiative" an assault on the rule of law and the separation of church and state.
Backed by three former top IRS officials, the group also wants the IRS to determine whether the nonprofit ADF is risking its own tax-exempt status by organizing an "inappropriate, unethical and illegal" series of political endorsements.
"As religious leaders, we have grave concerns about the ethical implications of soliciting and organizing churches to violate core principles of our society," the clergy wrote in an advance copy of their claim obtained by The Washington Post.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
I like the ADF but there’s no need for this. If you want to keep your tax exemption then be careful about politics...
When the IRS goes after Pfleger and Wright and Sharpton the same way they go after Dobson and Falwell and Kennedy, then the ADF won’t have to do something like this. But until then, since the law’s not enforced for black churches, it’s time for conservative white congregations to take advantage.
democrat “churches” have been endorsing democrat candidates at all levels for the longest time.
Yeah, heaven forbid churches would actually have first amendment rights to express their views.
Ministers endorse candidates all the time. Democrats, mostly. When was this rule ever enforced?
The only reason these restrictions are constitutional, is there is no requirement for Churches to register for 503(c)(3) status. By code, churches are automatically tax exempt even without 503(c)(3) status.
The real solution is to abolish the income tax. Such government intrusions are what set up impossible Constitutional conflicts as this.
Nothing demonstrates the power the income tax gives to bureaucrats than this issue. They can make God’s ministers dance like little puppets on a string. Course they could cut their strings by telling the feds to shove their tax deductions but no one has the courage to do that.
And not surprisingly, given their tax-exempt status, churches have hardly been at the forefront of promoting this idea. Frankly I think a better solution would be to end the concept of tax-exempt entities altogether. Then you'd suddenly see a huge push from religious groups, charitable groups, community activist groups, etc. to take the axe to the huge taxes that are bloating government and stifling our freedom.
As it stands, the taxation problem is not on these groups radar screen, since they don't pay taxes, and thus the effect of the whole tax-exemption scheme is to make sure that tens of thousands of do-gooding organizations of all types don't use their respected status among their members and supporters to make an issue of the out-of-control taxation in this country.
The Congress even printed bibles. and set aside church lots in every state in the Union.
IRS tax exemption policy is the mirror image of FDR’s Fairness Doctrine.
It might be supportable if it was evenly applied. But the leftist churches indulge in political activism with impunity, while real Christian churches are prevented from saying anything.
Democrat candidates speak from the pulpits of black churches, with singing and cheering congregations, on election day, and nothing is done.
Black pastors and leftist pastors bus their congregations to the polls, and nothing is done.
But let a priest or a pastor say that good Christians must not vote for Obama, because he is a baby killer, and all hell would break loose.
We all know that if the Fairness Doctrine were restored, Olberman would continue to rant but Rush would be unemployable. Therefore, it is better not to give government this sort of power over speech—on the air, or in churches.
What did churches do before 1951?
There is no law requiring 501c3 registration. Churches sign away their right to free speech when they file for 501c3.
No 501c3 — still non-taxable. With 501c3, only tax “exempt” at the whim of the IRS.
No 501c3 — Preachers say what they believe from their pulpits, even about candidates. with 501c3, they must keep their mouths shut.
There are thousands of churches in America that operate and conduct full ministries without 501c3, just like ALL of them did before 1951.
New churches - - - DON'T REGISTER TO BECOME A STATE CHURCH, OR A STATE-RESTRICTED, OR A STATE-GOVERNED CHURCH.
Can't cite a particular instance,
but I bet they'd be on a conservative church
in a heartbeat.
Churchs get a tax exemption because:
1. The ablility to tax something is the ability to destroy it.
2. Congress shall make no law affecting religion.
3. Taxing churchs has the real potential of preventing someone from practicing their religion.
Personally, I don’t think any non-profit group should be taxed, even if it was formed strictly for political reasons.
If I and 100 of my neighbors get together and form a non-profit group specificly to campaign against a candidate that wants to build a highway through our neighborhood, and we each donate $100 dollars to the effort, why should the government get a cut of that?
Individuals exercise political influence by forming groups and pooling their resources and efforts. When the government skims off part of their money as taxes, it reduces their political influence.
They can give up their tax-exempt status and endorse anyone they want. This isn’t that hard.
In case there are those who have forgotten the origins of this statute:
The Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act
House Resolution 235 was designed to revise the IRS code to remove restrictions placed on churches and non-profit organizations in 1954 by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson. Prior to 1954, churches and non-profit organizations had no such restrictions on their freedom of speech or their right to speak out in favor or against political issues or candidates.
The history of Johnsons IRS gag order is instructive. It began with what some historians believe to be a fraudulent election of Johnson to the Senate in 1948. It has been maintained by both conservative and liberal historians that Lyndon Johnsons election to the Senate in 1948 was won by massive voter fraud. Known as Landslide Lyndon, this aspiring politician was elected by only 87 votes. His challenger, Coke Stevenson, challenged his election and presented credible evidence that hundreds of votes for Johnson had been faked. Johnson, however, was successful in blocking Stevensons effort by the clever use of cooperative court injunctions.
In 1954, Johnson was facing re-election to the Senate and was being aggressively opposed by two non-profit anti-Communist groups that were attacking Johnsons liberal agenda. In retaliation, Johnson inserted language into the IRS code that prohibited non-profits, including churches, from endorsing or opposing candidates for political office. In effect, Senator Johnson used the power of the go-along Congress and the IRS to silence his opposition.
Unfortunately, it worked. Some in Johnsons staff claimed that Johnson never intended to go after churches, only the two nonprofits in Texas. Nevertheless, his sly amendment to the tax code affected every church in America, and it is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
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