ADF planned a coordinated effort by pastors on September 28 to defy the IRS gag rule dating back to 1954 disallowing them and churches from taking political stands. Around the nation pastors purposefully violated the gag rule, such as by endorsing a political candidate. They planned to submit transcripts and video/audiotapes of their sermons to the IRS. The hope is to invoke action by the IRS, get this into court, and overturn this 54 year old First Amendment violation.
I emailed Erik Stanley, ADF's lead attorney on the project, who gave me this update...
Great result. We had 31 participate with 2 more in the coming weeks for a total of 33 in 22 states. The sermons were well-received by the congregations and we didn't have any reported issues. The pastors are sending their sermons to the IRS now and there will likely be a delay of about 2 months or so before they hear back from the IRS if they are going to do anything.
Americans United [for Separation of Church and State] (Barry Lynn) had their predictable result. They have reported about 7 or 8 of the 31 churches and claim they will report the others once they have substantiation of the sermons.
Overall, the media handled it well and we were very pleased with the outcome.
First ammendment violation? Seems like a first ammendment protection to me. If the church gets involved in the government, it follows the government is going to get involved in the church which quite simply should not happen for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that religion has a calling higher than government policies and endorsing candidates.
You all seem to criticize that an endorsement of a figure is an endorsement of all his/her policies, as a vote is for all his/her policies. Yet, every candidate (at least in this election)has a position that (at least the Catholic Church) disagrees with and in fact both support what the Catholic Church views as mortal sins. I would think the Catholic Church would rather be left alone rather than suddenly become subject to political scrutiny and have inconsistencies pointing out in endorsing a candidate they say very well could be going to hell.
Churches should certainly voice concerns over moral political issues, but the institution as a whole should not be endorsing anyone, period.Posted by: Dan at October 13, 2008 11:27 AM
No court has ever held this to be a "First Amendment violation". If churches are more interested in partisan politics than religious and charitable activities, they have always been free to give up their tax exempt status.Posted by: PPC at October 13, 2008 11:29 AM
No Catholic priest that I know of specifically ENDORSED a candidate that weekend, but did say that voting for a pro abortion candidate is a grave matter.
The ones that specifically did actual endorsements were not Catholic churches.Posted by: LizFromNebraska at October 13, 2008 11:30 AM
Then no violation was committed unless the priest endorsed a candidate as a representative of the parish/church they serve.
I'm glad Catholic priests at least might be able to see the danger that very well could come from church endorsements being allowed. I think there might be some misunderstanding of the law, speaking about moral issues (such as abortion, gay marriage, birth control, etc) is all perfectly legal, the organization endorsing a candidate, however, makes the church become a political front which they should all be above.Posted by: Dan at October 13, 2008 11:45 AM
You've got it backwards.
The governement is already telling churches what they can and cannot do from the pulpit. They've made a law which prohibits the free speech of pastors from the pulpit. And what is the church but the people that attend, serve and worship at a building. So, in effect, the governemnt has silenced a whole class of citizens and not just the pastors.
I can see why homosexuals and pro-aborts want to silence this group, just as Acorn wants to steal the election. This is the only way they can promote their perversion.
The Constitution says that "the governemnt shall make no law regarding religion or the practice thereof". Got it? NO LAW.
Churches had tax exemption prior to this law and were deceived by Lyndon B. Johnson by this legislation. It wasn't necessary.
This travesty that has nearly destroyed our country by allowing evil to infiltatre our schools and our politics. This law will be repealed and IS THE KEY to overturning Roe V. Wade as long as Barack Obama is not elected.Posted by: HisMan at October 13, 2008 11:52 AM
Simple then, apply said no law to the tax exemption as well. Churches can pay taxes and become the front for political decisions.
Seems most Americans like the current system according to a recent pew poll I posted in a similar thread about this event. A majority of Americans, of all walks of religious life (devout, practicing, non practicing, believers, non believers, etc) think that churches should not make political endorsements, and it's consistent across each category at about 2/3 or higher.
I would prefer neither. The church is supposed to be above petty individualn politics. You did not even address the issue that churches will become subject to political scrutiny and charges of hypocrisy for endorsing leaders (such as McCain or Obama) who support activities considered sins by the church.
Nor did I ever see a response to my question a few threads back about whether or not dissent being patriotic. Will you defend Obama as vehemently as you defend Bush because of the nature of his position? Or will dissent suddenly become patriotic to you as well, at least for four years?Posted by: Dan at October 13, 2008 11:59 AM
Let me repeat this again.
Churches and religious organizations have ALWAYS been tax exempt. Always, get it, always. This is why the 501c3 law is going to be challenged and repealed as un-Consitutional.
So take your Liberal reconstructionism and sit down.
Defend Obama? What, compromise my values? You have absolutely no concept of who we serve do you? I will oppose Obama as long as as forcefully as I need to.
It is obvious you Liberals are terrrified by the true church and very well you should be since we are the ones who stand in opposition to you.
You haven't got a clue.Posted by: HisMan at October 13, 2008 12:26 PM
Yet I would not rely on them staying that way if this law is repealed. Do you really think there will be no political backlash? If churches can endorse as an organization the argument can be made that they must contribute to the government financially, not just politically.
So Bushes espouses all of your values eh? Wow, never thought I'd actually hear you admit it. However, you have said on previous occasions attacking the commander-in-chief and his/her decisions is unpatriotic.
So will you be willing to apply that label to yourself when attacking Obama if he is in fact elected?Posted by: Dan at October 13, 2008 12:36 PM
PPC at October 13, 2008 11:29 AM
No problem, as long as Planned Parenthood gives up theirs.Posted by: Chris Arsenault at October 13, 2008 2:46 PM
I would think the Catholic Church would rather be left alone rather than suddenly become subject to political scrutiny and have inconsistencies pointing out in endorsing a candidate they say very well could be going to hell.
The (Catholic) Church's teaching does not allow us to judge who will and who will not end up in hell. A behavior can be judged as sinful, but only God can judge the fate of a man's soul.
So, charges of hypocrisy have been made about people and even churches since the beginning of time. I don't think that is an important issue here.Posted by: Janet at October 13, 2008 3:14 PM
But by endorsing a candidate who supports sinful behavior, it can be twisted by the media as the church endorsing what it calls sinful behavior, just as the molestation scandal still hurts the church because the media did make it appear larger than it was. It was certainly a widespread problem, but not as large as the media made it appear.Posted by: Dan at October 13, 2008 3:16 PM
the non-denominational pastors that i have talked to who are speaking at the pulpit for a candidate have NO income over expenses that could be taxed - so they have no risk in losing their 501(C)3 exemption. Catholic priests do, as their non-profit status is diocesan not parochial, so there is income that could be taxed from year to year.
Here is what a priest has publicly said about choosing a candidate for president. Prolife is the most basic of platforms, all else takes a back seat to this issue. He said that one could view it as a bookshelf, where the issues are grouped together. The prolife is the SHELF for all the other issues. without sanctity of life, there is no reason to care about homeless, marriage, or war.Posted by: TotaTua at October 13, 2008 3:27 PM
The Catholic Church and all other pro-life churches have a moral obligation to follow the lead of those Protestant ministers and do two things: 1) condemn the Democratic Party in the strongest possible terms for its support for unlimited killing of all human beings in the first nine months of our lives; and 2) urge all Christian and pro-life voters to vote only for John McCain for President and to vote only for Republicans for the House and Senate. A Republican President and Congress make it possible to do something to stop the killing of unborn children; with Democrats in power all hope is gone.
This action by the churches would involve risking (not necessarily losing, but risking) their tax exempt status, but I feel that this is a risk that needs to be run. We pro-lifers have to start really treating this violence against unborn children as the unspeakable crime which it is and take the strongest possible stand against. If our own lives were threatened we would do everything that we could to stop the killing as soon as possible.
If the Catholic and other pro-life churches actually believe that the killing of our children, future generations of humanity, is a "grave moral evil" then it is time finally to step up to the plate and do something about it.
If every church would strongly and relentlessly condemn every abortionist politician holding every office, call upon them to change or resign their office and would, at election time, urge all voters to defeat every candidate who supported abortion violence, we would begin to see this terrible stalemate ended in favor of human life.
The pro-life churches should lead from now an all-out relentless campaign to defeat all abortionist politicians, to drive them from office and replace them with decent moral political leaders who do not support destroying children.
We have been going around the merry-go-round for 35 years now and we have watched 50,000,000 children lose their lives. Enough is enough. It is long past time to end the killing and the only way to do that is to defeat all currently serving abortionist politicians and prevent any more from being elected. This will require an all-out effort from everyone, including the churches. Time to step up to the plate.
Posted by: Joe at October 13, 2008 4:44 PM
I'm not suggesting the churches advocate a particular candidate. If the issues are addressed properly, it should be obvious, IMO.Posted by: Janet at October 13, 2008 9:01 PM