Pulpit Freedom Sunday: Faith-based community’s bold move

The First Amendment clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech….”

Yesterday was “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an event begun in 2008. Participation has grown three-fold since last year, with nearly 1,500 daring pastors taking part on Sunday. The movement has grown steadily in size, with just 33 pastors participating in 2008, rising to 539 last year and to a record 1,477 this year.

Clergy in churches across the nation not only endorsed candidates from the pulpit, but have sent the tapes of the services directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), daring the IRS to challenge them, while  jeopardizing the tax exempt status enjoyed by houses of worship.

Under the U.S. tax code, non-profit organizations such as churches may express views on any issue, but they risk their favorable tax-exempt status if they speak for or against any political candidate.

Detractors claim clergy diminish their standing and damage their faith when they use their pulpits to further a political candidate.  They even cite the destruction of the First Amendment and altering the nature of faith.

But the inception of this gag on free speech has it roots in the Democrat Party, not in the Constitution. It first appeared in 1954 not 1776, pushed by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson as HR 235.  Johnson offered an amendment to a revenue bill that permanently extended the grasp of the IRS into our nation’s houses of worship. Since that time, the IRS has turned the 501(c)(3) code-section on its head in an attempt to stifle pastors for communicating the principles of faith during an election period.

The tax-exempt status for churches is the monetary benefit extended to them by the government, along with allowances for individuals to deduct their contributions to religious organizations. It comes with long and controlling strings.

The question is, if pushed to the wall, how many will actually stand up for the First Amendment and give up the benefits?

A history of the Johnson Amendment can be seen here:

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5 Responses to Pulpit Freedom Sunday: Faith-based community’s bold move

  1. Teller Of Truth says:

    Although I applaud the pastors for asserting their First Amendment rights, let’s not forget that the churches originally agreed to this tax-exempt status deal with the devil. Not only was it very appealing, it enriched many of them, enabling them to purchase insurance companies, hospitals, schools, universities, newspapers, broadcasting facilities, hotels and many other lucrative businesses. The organized religion industry not only exists, it thrives.

    • Seen It All says:

      You’re right to call this a deal made with the devil. Churches were all too happy to accept this when it came down the pike. There have even been congressional attempts to roll the deal back, but they have failed. What sounds too good to be true often is.

      Giving up the right to free speech is not inconsequential, regardless of how the pie was sweetened. I blame the churches who agreed to this scheme as much as I blame the deceptive tactics of Lyndon Johnson,

  2. Trevor says:

    This NewsMax article touches on the same fascinating topic.

    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/2/25/150558.shtml

    It’s not just here in the US. In Australia and New Zealand the largest manufacturer of breakfast cereal is also church owned. I know that for a fact.

  3. ZOO says:

    If multi-billion dollar religious organizations are looking for free speech sympathy, the won’t get it from me. Can anyone name a single instance where the IRS tax exempt provision has ever been enforced?

    I am reminded of Mexican invader Elvira Arellano who was arrested and deported in 1997. Within days, she was back in the U.S., dropped an anchor baby two years later, and was re-arrested in a 2002 sweep and convicted of Social Security fraud. Under the illegal alien loving Bush administration, she was not required to appear for a deportation hearing until August 15, 2006. On that date she took refuge in the Adalberto United Methodist church in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago. The criminal Bush clan refused to violate the “sanctuary” of the church, and Arellano remained there a full 12 months. This single “stand down” of the law was a magnet for hundreds of thousands of invaders that followed. Arellano’s emboldened status eventually led her to a Los Angeles event to speak as a “victim” where she was again arrested and finally deported – again.

    This is but one of hundreds of examples where a church has not only violated the IRS non-political stance rule, but Federal immigration laws pertaining to aiding and abetting while the government looked the other way. Various denominations now have a long history of anti-law, anti-sovereignty activity and gotten away with it scott free. As far as I’m concerned, remove any and all tax exemption protections for all religious conglomerates and let them have at it, while helping to pay down our national debt. But stumping against U.S. federal laws and openly violating them should land church leaders behind bars right along with their “free speech.” The aura of “devine immunity” is a load of crap.

  4. patriotmom says:

    I do NOT support churches breaking the law such as supporting illegal immigration. I don’t support it from a legal stance nor a Biblical one. I don’t respect those in the local Interfaith Council because they do not follow Biblical principles. They hide behind ” What would Jesus do?” gobbledygook rather than following the Bible teaching that we are under the authority of the law of the land in which we reside.

    It’s one thing to say that churches cannot act like political arms of a party, but quite another to say that they cannot remind their faithful of the basics of their faith and how that should affect their voting. Churches have been told that they cannot even do that- and that is against free speech. The Bishop E.W. Jackson is calling the black community to leave the Democrat Party- and he should have every right to do so.

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