FACT: No One Wins When Pulpits Aren’t Free

No One Wins 2

By Marissa Poulson, Senior Web Writer

On July 17, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) claimed “victory” in a press release announcing its settlement with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over the agency’s failure to investigate churches for political activity.

According to FFRF, “The IRS has now resolved the . . . issue necessary to initiate church examinations.”

In other words, the IRS is looking to “examine” your pastor’s sermon to make sure it meets the IRS’ interpretation of the tax code.

To give you some background, the tax code mandates that tax-exempt organizations may 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.” According to the IRS, this statement, known as the Johnson Amendment, can be applied to a pastor’s sermon from the pulpit.

In reading more about the history of the Johnson Amendment, I came across a statement that said “It is a well-known fact that churches cannot endorse or oppose political candidates.” It just so happens that this “well-known fact” is also unconstitutional, and it ignores other facts—facts that we, as Americans, can’t ignore.

FACT: Like any American, pastors have the constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech.

Pastors and priests have the same rights as all other Americans. This includes involvement in politics when not acting on behalf of the church.

FACT: Christian pastors give sermons based on biblical principles.

Bible-believing, Christian pastors are going to discuss biblical principles in their sermons.  That’s what they are called to do (Mark 16:15).

FACT: Biblical principles are often at the heart of elections.

Have you ever voted for a candidate because he or she was pro-life or held certain views about helping the poor? What about because of his or her views on same-sex marriage? The reality is that elections are often driven by biblical issues that pastors discuss in their sermons.  Do we really want to give our government the power to dictate when biblical principles become political and potentially off limits for pastors?

FACT: Pulpit Freedom Sunday empowers pastors to exercise their constitutional freedoms.

In their press release, FFRF refers to Pulpit Freedom Sunday as “an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity.” In reality, through Pulpit Freedom Sunday, Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to restore the right of each pastor to speak biblical truth from the pulpit about moral, social, and government issues—without fear of losing the church’s tax-exempt status.  It is the job of the pastor, not the IRS, to determine what is said from the pulpit.

So I ask you… when constitutional freedoms are restricted, such as a pastor’s right to speak boldly at the pulpit, can any American really claim victory?

If you want to help preserve religious freedom in America, encourage your pastor to stand for truth by joining Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

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Author: Alliance Defending Freedom