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Pulpit Freedom Sunday

Pastors have been endorsing candidates for as long as candidates have been running for office. I think it's a good thing that some of them will finally have to follow the laws of taxation. I know the pastor of the small church that my grandparents attend has been using sermons to endorse local and national candidates since at least 1996. This is the first cycle that my grandparents will not be voting as he requests. Good for them.

 

ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iOglIxiBY7ZLeg1lwDIiP5kwkcuAD93FU7RG3

WEST BEND, Wis. (AP) — Pastor Luke Emrich prepared his sermon this week knowing his remarks could invite an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service. But that was the whole point, so Emrich forged ahead with his message: Thou shalt vote according to the Scriptures.

"I'm telling you straight up, I would choose life," Emrich told about 100 worshippers Sunday at New Life Church, a nondenominational evangelical congregation about 40 miles from Milwaukee.

"I would cast a vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin," he said. "But friends, it's your choice to make, it's not my choice. I won't be in the voting booth with you."

All told, 33 pastors in 22 states were to make pointed recommendations about political candidates Sunday, an effort orchestrated by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund.

The conservative legal group plans to send copies of the pastors' sermons to the IRS with hope of setting off a legal fight and abolishing restrictions on church involvement in politics. Critics call it unnecessary, divisive and unlikely to succeed.

Congress amended the tax code in 1954 to state that certain nonprofit groups, including secular charities and places of worship, can lose their tax-exempt status for intervening in a campaign involving candidates.

Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said hundreds of churches volunteered to take part in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday." Thirty-three were chosen, in part for "strategic criteria related to litigation" Stanley wouldn't discuss.

Pastor Jody Hice of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Bethlehem, Ga., said in an interview Sunday that his sermon compared Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain on abortion and gay marriage and concluded that McCain "holds more to a biblical world view."

He said he urged the Southern Baptist congregation to vote for McCain.

"The basic thrust was this was not a matter of endorsing, it's a First Amendment issue," Hice said. "To say the church can't deal with moral and societal issues if it enters into the political arena is just wrong, it's unconstitutional."

At the independent Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla., pastor Paul Blair said he told his congregation, "As a Christian and as an American citizen, I will be voting for John McCain."

"It's absolutely vital to proclaim the truth and not be afraid to proclaim the truth from our pulpits," Blair said in an interview.

Because the pastors were speaking in their official capacity as clergy, the sermons are clear violations of IRS rules, said Robert Tuttle, a professor of law and religion at George Washington University. But even if the IRS rises to the bait and a legal fight ensues, Tuttle said there's "virtually no chance" courts will strike down the prohibition.

"The government is allowed, as long as it has a reasonable basis for doing it, to treat political and nonpolitical speech differently, and that's essentially what it's done here," Tuttle said.

Not all the sermons came off as planned. Bishop Robert Smith Sr. of Word of Outreach Center in Little Rock said he had to postpone until next week because of a missed flight. Smith, a delegate to this month's Republican National Convention, declined to say whom he would endorse.

Promotional materials for the initiative said each pastor would prepare the sermon with "legal assistance of the ADF to ensure maximum effectiveness in challenging the IRS."

Stanley said the pastors alone wrote the sermons, with the framework that they be "a biblical evaluation of the candidates for office with a specific recommendation." That could be a flat-out endorsement or opposition to one or both candidates, he said.

The legal group declined to release a list of participants in advance, citing concerns about potential disruptions at services. A list and excerpts from sermons will be made public early this week, with the delay necessary for lawyers to review the material, the group said.

Under the IRS code, places of worship can distribute voter guides, run nonpartisan voter registration drives and hold forums on issues, among other things. However, they cannot endorse a candidate, and their political activity cannot be biased for or against a candidate, directly or indirectly — a sometimes murky line.

The IRS said in a statement it is aware of Sunday's initiative and "will monitor the situation and take action as appropriate."

The agency has stepped up oversight of political activity in churches in recent years after receiving a flurry of complaints from the 2004 campaign. The IRS reported issuing written advisories against 42 churches for improper politically activity in 2004.

The ban on churches intervening in candidate campaigns survived a court challenge when a U.S. appellate court upheld the revocation of tax-exempt status of a New York church that took out a newspaper ad urging Christians to vote against Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election.

Opposition to Sunday's sermon initiative was widespread. A United Church of Christ minister in Ohio rallied other religious leaders to file a complaint with the IRS. Roman Catholic Archbishop John Favalora of Miami wrote that the archdiocese abides by IRS rules in part because "we can do a lot for our communities with the money we save by being tax-exempt."

Three former IRS officials also asked the agency to investigate the initiative, questioning the ethics of lawyers asking ministers to break the law.

Two-thirds of adults oppose political endorsements from churches and other places of worship and 52 percent want them out of politics altogether, according to a survey last month from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

"It is good public policy that in exchange for the valuable privilege of a tax exemption, you cannot turn your church or charity into a political action committee," said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Church and State, which intends to report the participating churches to the IRS, along with any other churches acting independently.

Comments

  • Cabe2323Cabe2323 Member Posts: 2,939

    I hope those lawyers get hit with a Frivelous litigation Lawsuit by churches.  It is ridiculous.  Speaking about politics and saying that McCain is more in line with a Biblical viewpoint is not being a Political Action Commitee. 

    This is a freedom of Speech issue not a political action issue and tax issue. 

    Currently playing:
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  • DekronDekron Member UncommonPosts: 7,358
    Originally posted by DailyBuzz


    I think it's a good thing that some of them will finally have to follow the laws of taxation.

     

    I don't believe I heard you singing the same tune when Obama's church endorsed him. If this what an Obama incident you would cry foul.

  • BrianshoBriansho Member UncommonPosts: 3,586

    Don't be terrorized! You're more likely to die of a car accident, drowning, fire, or murder! More people die every year from prescription drugs than terrorism LOL!

  • DailyBuzzDailyBuzz Member Posts: 2,306
    Originally posted by Dekron



    I don't believe I heard you singing the same tune when Obama's church endorsed him. If this what an Obama incident you would cry foul.

    First of all, Obama's church didn't endorse him, the retired pastor of that church did.

    Secondly, this is not a liberal versus conservative issue. This is an issue of what current laws mandate.

    I disagree with the decision of all pastors who choose to endorse a candidate -regardless of persuasion- while standing before their congregation. The fact is, it's not even remotely uncommon. It happens all over the nation, in big cities as well as small towns. If they are going to do it anyway, they should be taxed accordingly.

     

  • HYPERI0NHYPERI0N Member Posts: 3,515

    Yet ANOTHER useless almost spam like topic on American polotics. When will we get something else posted on these forums

    Another great example of Moore's Law. Give people access to that much space (developers and users alike) and they'll find uses for it that you can never imagine. "640K ought to be enough for anybody" - Bill Gates 1981

  • DekronDekron Member UncommonPosts: 7,358
    Originally posted by DailyBuzz
    First of all, Obama's church didn't endorse him, the retired pastor of that church did
     

    Yes, the "church" did. Wright was not retired when he was in the pulpit endorsing him. The pastor speaks for the church. There are many videos showing this. Look them up.

    Don't flat out lie to protect the idiot Obama.

  • DailyBuzzDailyBuzz Member Posts: 2,306
    Originally posted by Dekron



    Yes, the "church" did. Wright was not retired when he was in the pulpit endorsing him. The pastor speaks for the church. There are many videos showing this. Look them up.
    Don't flat out lie to protect the idiot Obama.

    I disagree. I have seen Wright make some horrible remarks in his sermons, but none endorsing a candidate. He has endorsed Obama in public but not prior to his retirement. If you wish to provide some proof, I will amend my post. Furthermore, I have already stated that I disagree with any pastor who endorses a candidate publicly.

    You can try to make this a conservative/liberal issue if you want, but it simply is not.

  • DekronDekron Member UncommonPosts: 7,358
    Originally posted by DailyBuzz 
    You can try to make this a conservative/liberal issue if you want, but it simply is not.

    I'm not. I'm simply stating this tune wasn't sung when Obama's radical pastor did the same. Stay tuned for the link.

  • DailyBuzzDailyBuzz Member Posts: 2,306
    Originally posted by Dekron



    I'm not. I'm simply stating this tune wasn't sung when Obama's radical pastor did the same. Stay tuned for the link.

     

    To be honest, I wasn't very motivated by this issue until there was a mobilization to bring it to the national stage. It has always just been something that I didn't like (or agree with) but accepted as "the way it is".

  • DekronDekron Member UncommonPosts: 7,358
    Originally posted by DailyBuzz

    Originally posted by Dekron



    I'm not. I'm simply stating this tune wasn't sung when Obama's radical pastor did the same. Stay tuned for the link.

     

    To be honest, I wasn't very motivated by this issue until there was a mobilization to bring it to the national stage. It has always just been something that I didn't like (or agree with) but accepted as "the way it is".

    I'm amazed. I had many of Wright's videos bookmarked, including the endorsement. They have been removed from YouTube.

    And, by the way, you may misunderstand when I say he endorsed him. Wright did not simply say "I endorse Barack Obama". He was stating "Why we need Barack Obama". It was in his same speech when he was slamming Hilary. There is still a partial of the video on YouTube.

    And, one thing I do ask. Why does it bother you so? Sure tax laws are being violated; hwoever, do you not view this as a restriction on freedom of speech?

  • CactusmanXCactusmanX Member Posts: 2,218

    If churches can do religious indoctrination why not political?

    I think they should be able to say whatever they want.  Then again I don't think they should ever have been tax exempt in the first place.  Both seem unfair.

    Don't you worry little buddy. You're dealing with a man of honor. However, honor requires a higher percentage of profit

  • DailyBuzzDailyBuzz Member Posts: 2,306
    Originally posted by Dekron



    I'm amazed. I had many of Wright's videos bookmarked, including the endorsement. They have been removed from YouTube.
    Color me surprised.
    And, by the way, you may misunderstand when I say he endorsed him. Wright did not simply say "I endorse Barack Obama". He was stating "Why we need Barack Obama". It was in his same speech when he was slamming Hilary. There is still a partial of the video on YouTube.
    Disparaging remarks about a candidate are just as illegal as endorsing a candidate. Not that it matters, you have been unable to provide proof of either.
    And, one thing I do ask. Why does it bother you so? Sure tax laws are being violated; hwoever, do you not view this as a restriction on freedom of speech?
    It bothers me because it goes to the very root of the separation of church and state. The tax exemption of churches is designed to protect the church just as much as the political process. If a pastor wants to disregard the laws, and publicly endorse candidates, then they are subject to taxation AS WELL AS having the government interfere with the church's business. Mixing the two is a slippery slope that ends with each becoming infected by the very worst attributes of the other. History has proven such.

     

  • DekronDekron Member UncommonPosts: 7,358
    Originally posted by DailyBuzz

    Originally posted by Dekron



    I'm amazed. I had many of Wright's videos bookmarked, including the endorsement. They have been removed from YouTube.
    Color me surprised.
    And, by the way, you may misunderstand when I say he endorsed him. Wright did not simply say "I endorse Barack Obama". He was stating "Why we need Barack Obama". It was in his same speech when he was slamming Hilary. There is still a partial of the video on YouTube.
    Disparaging remarks about a candidate are just as illegal as endorsing a candidate. Not that it matters, you have been unable to provide proof of either.
    And, one thing I do ask. Why does it bother you so? Sure tax laws are being violated; hwoever, do you not view this as a restriction on freedom of speech?
    It bothers me because it goes to the very root of the separation of church and state. The tax exemption of churches is designed to protect the church just as much as the political process. If a pastor wants to disregard the laws, and publicly endorse candidates, then they are subject to taxation AS WELL AS having the government interfere with the church's business. Mixing the two is a slippery slope that ends with each becoming infected by the very worst attributes of the other. History has proven such.

     

    The Hilary remarks video uk.youtube.com/watch

    Believe or not, I do not care, the others were deleted.

    You are off base on separation of church and state. First, there is nothing in the Constitution that explicitly separates the two. The Constitution does state; however, that there shall be no government sponsored religion.

    We will say for the sake of ease if there was a separation of church and state clause, it would again be referring to the government's support of a particular religion, not a churches support of a particular candidate.

    The left is fearful of this tactic because they know that no evangelical, in their right mind, would support Obama.

  • olddaddyolddaddy Member Posts: 3,356
    Originally posted by Dekron
    You are off base on separation of church and state. First, there is nothing in the Constitution that explicitly separates the two. The Constitution does state; however, that there shall be no government sponsored religion.

    I see, but religion sponsored government is acceptable then?

     

  • skyrockstockskyrockstock Member Posts: 71

    How do I feel about religion and tax exemption?

    Well these days if you want tax exemption and the right to solicit donations from philanthropies, businesses or individuals then you can file with your Governor Office for  non profit status.

    All you have to do is provide some kind of Service to the community that is beneficial. Voter drives, food bank, educational, or any number of other outreach programs. I think Obama's was ACORN, might want to check it to that, then run .... lol

    He made a living as a community organizer also. It itoo was  considered a non profit organizations. They have board members and duty operators, they can get paid for conducting the duties that provide the service to the community.

    Last I checked every single Organization listed as non profit and are tax exempt that provide a service to their community speak their political opinions all the time without threat of taxation.

    How is it that a person whom believes they have found something, a personal belief, why should that diminish their right to express themselves politically?

    It would be one thing if they chained the door and padlocked it then forced everyone to hear the political opinion. As far as I can tell anyone that does not like the message can step out and be done with it.

    I would say they are no less American than anyone else and should be allowed the right to serve their community without bias based on beliefs and express themselves freely.

     

     

  • DekronDekron Member UncommonPosts: 7,358
    Originally posted by olddaddy

    Originally posted by Dekron
    You are off base on separation of church and state. First, there is nothing in the Constitution that explicitly separates the two. The Constitution does state; however, that there shall be no government sponsored religion.

    I see, but religion sponsored government is acceptable then?

     

    If religion is not driving the policies of the government, then yes. I believe it to be ok for a religious group to claim they back a particular candidate, but not drive policies.

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