Let’s Enforce Tax Law Against Belligerent Pastors

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Remember a few weeks ago when I pointed out that those Catholics raising money against gay marriage was totally legal?

Guess what’s not: advocating for specific candidates in elections.

And the Alliance Defense Fund—they defend religion, not the law—is encouraging pastors this weekend to completely defy the law, according to an article on OneNewsNow. The title is “Getting the gov’t out of the pulpit,” but the intent is to actually participate in government from the pulpit:

September 27 is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” According to senior counsel Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund, it is a time when pastors can stand in their pulpits and proclaim the entire truth of the gospel — even as it applies to candidates in elections.

Let’s be totally clear. There is no such thing as “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” except in the mind of the people at ADF. There is no exception to the rule; this Pulpit Freedom Sunday is designed specifically to encourage pastors to ignore the law.

What is that law, exactly? Let’s take a look at the IRS US Code: Title 26, 501:

(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not 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.

Now, why would an organization have to sacrifice not being able to promote specific candidates in order to get tax-exempt? Oh, maybe because organizations who do support specific candidates do have to pay taxes.

“It really flows from the fact that pastors have a right to speak freely from their pulpits without fearing government censorship or intimidation — and that no one should be able to intimidate pastors into giving up their constitutional rights,” the attorney explains.

Sure, just pay taxes. Oh, you don’t want to do that either? Oh…

Current [sic] the Johnson Amendment effectively silences pastors, although none who have spoken out have lost their tax-exempt status. ADF says more than 80 pastors will preach sermons on September 27 related to biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates or current government officials.

Let’s see if I understand this… follow along with me!

» Last year, 33 pastors participated in a demonstration where they flagrantly disobeyed the law.
» None of the churches who violated the terms of their tax-exempt status have had their tax-exempt status revoked.
» This year, twice as many pastors are going to openly defy the law.

When do we step in and make churches play by the rules they agreed to play by?

Religious privilege…

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