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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

From OneNewsNow.com - Pastors Need to Stand Up to IRS

'Intimidation' of pastors at issue

Jeff Johnson - OneNewsNow - 5/13/2008 10:00:00 AM
Protecting pastors' constitutionally protected right to preach on biblical issues related to politics is the motive behind one Christian law firm's "Pulpit Initiative."

For almost the first 180 years of American history, pastors routinely addressed political issues and candidates from the pulpit. "Until about 1954, churches were free to endorse or oppose particular candidates from the pulpit -- and, in fact, churches did that," says Erik Stanley with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). "Some pastors opposed Thomas Jefferson as being a deist. Other pastors opposed William Howard Taft as a Unitarian. Some pastors opposed Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election -- and the list goes on and on.

"But that changed in 1954, says Stanley, when Congress passed a law forbidding churches from endorsing or opposing candidates. The so-called "Johnson Amendment" was passed without any debate or analysis. Stanley says that provision has since been used to keep churches from speaking out when politics intrudes into moral issues addressed by scripture.
"The IRS has been used as a willing accomplice with groups like Americans United [for Separation of Church and State] to silence pastors from speaking biblical values from the pulpit," alleges the attorney. "[W]e believe that pastors ... shouldn't be intimidated into giving those up.

"That is why ADF is asking pastors to help reclaim that constitutionally protected right.
"What we would like pastors to do is to preach a biblically based sermon evaluating the candidates for office on September 28 of this year," he explains. "And we're asking pastors to use their authority as biblical, prophetic voices to the culture to make recommendations either opposing or supporting particular candidates for office." (Click here to learn more about "Pulpit Freedom Sunday.")That is why ADF is asking pastors to help reclaim that constitutionally protected right.

Stanley says, for too long, pastors have been intimidated by the IRS and groups like Americans United. "What we're trying to do is to reestablish the freedom of the pulpit," the attorney says. "This is not a political project; this is a core religious project. This is not involving political speech from the pulpit; this is involving religious speech from the pulpit."

ADF hopes that, by forcing the IRS to investigate hundreds or thousands of complaints, they can get the issue before a federal court that will uphold the right of churches to oppose or endorse candidates based on biblical considerations.
"We want the IRS to get out of the pulpit and return that to the hands of the pastors where it belongs," Stanley emphasizes. "It is the pastor's job to determine the sermon -- not the IRS."

Note from Cyber Pastor: I agree with most of what is in this article. I did want to say that I am not totally convinced that Jefferson was a deist (couldn't let that pass). Also, I'm going to be praying and researching this issue before deciding what I will be preaching on that date, God gets to decide what I preach and when, but this point is an important one. We will have to remember, that this will work for both sides of the political aisle - even though many liberal churches already do this.