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The number of pastors standing up for their right to preach from their pulpits on politics is surging. They call a ban on such speech a "cultural myth."

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Carol D (346)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 1:13 am
The number of pastors standing up for their right to preach from their pulpits on politics is surging.

They call a ban on such speech a “cultural myth.”

In 2008, 35 pastors defied the IRS, which holds the position that church “organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

The number of pastors boldly opposing the IRS rule grew to 539 in 2011 and is expected to be more than 1,500 on Oct. 7, during what organizers are calling “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

The pastors find support and instructions on participating at, and they are backed by a legal team at the Alliance Defending Freedom.

WND has learned that no church has ever lost its tax-exempt status, despite claims to the contrary by critics of Christians who speak out on important issues and candidates.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State says it has sent 60,000 letters to churches in an effort to tell pastors that the law requires them to stay out of politics.

The group’s position is that churches are only tax-exempt because of the 501(c)3 provision in the tax code, which has been revoked at least once since 1954.

That was the year Democratic Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson inserted language into a tax bill designed to restrict outspoken political opponents from using their nonprofits to campaign against him. Known as the “Johnson Amendment,” it enabled the IRS to become a watchdog of America’s church pulpits.

“Any activity designed to influence the outcome of a partisan election can be construed as intervention,” the Americans United letter declares. “If the IRS determines that your house of worship has engaged in unlawful intervention, it can revoke the institution’s tax-exempt status or levy significant fines on the house of worship or its leaders.”

The letter then recalls, “In 1995, the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of a Binghamton, N.Y., church for buying a full-page ad in USA Today opposing a 1992 presidential candidate.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom contends the AU letter is misleading and disingenuous, explaining that the church in New York had its “determination letter” revoked, not its “tax exempt” status. The distinction is crucial, ADF told WND, because there was basically no effect on the church from this IRS action.

Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for Americans Defending Freedom, told WND that churches don’t need a determination letter from the IRS to be considered tax-exempt.

“IRS section 508(c)1 (a) automatically exempts churches, and no advance determination letter is necessary,” he explained.

He said that some churches get the letter anyway, but it is not necessary.

In essence, the IRS claims it has the ability to keep churches out of the political realm, while ADF insists that position isn’t constitutional.

ADF noted that a scholar who studied the issue extensively concluded that the Johnson Amendment “is not rooted in constitutional provisions for separation of church and state.”

“Johnson was not trying to address any constitutional issue related to separation of church and state; and he did not offer the amendment because of anything that churches had done,’” ADF said.

Pastors who participate in the special Sunday event send recordings of their sermons to the IRS, effectively throwing down the challenge to argue the free speech of ministers in open court.

“It is important to note that in our opinion provisions of the tax code are unconstitutional,” says a letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom legal team. “Specifically, any IRS attempt to censor a pastor’s sermon from the pulpit is unconstitutional.

“That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom started Pulpit Freedom Sunday, to protect a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing government censorship or control.”

ADF said: “After all, it’s the job of the pastor and the church leadership not the IRS to decide what is said from the pulpit. No pastor should ever fear IRS censorship or punishment when he stands in the pulpit to preach.”

In a conference call regarding the effort, Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio agreed that no church has ever lost its 501(c)3 status for teaching Bible principals.

Hagee says that every Sunday is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” and it’s time that pastors in this country “choose truth over popularity.”

Jim Garlow, a prominent figure in the Pulpit Freedom Sunday movement, said, “We didn’t receive tax exempt status as churches because we did a swap saying we would not speak out on governmental issues.

“What the government can tax it can control, and what it can control it can kill,” he explained.

About the Johnson Amendment, Garlow said Johnson’s chief aide later admitted that they didn’t have churches in mind when the senator pushed the tax language through the Senate.

But, Garlow says, “This became the first time government intruded into the pulpit in America’s history.”

WND attempted to get comment from Americans United but received no response.

Hagee said during a half-hour-long conference call, “The evil day is not coming, the evil day is here.”

He continued, “Christians are being trampled by the secular left.”

He then urged pastors to get involved with educating their church members about biblical principles.

“Don’t get confused with left or right, or Democrat or Republican, vote the Bible,” he said.

“God’s Word is against homosexuality and abortion. You know the party that is for those things, therefore you cannot support them,” he continued.

He said that he tells his church not to go into a voting booth as a “union member,” or any other label, but to go into the voting booth with the Bible in mind.

He then had a word for Christians who don’t show up to vote.

“Fifty percent of evangelicals don’t even vote. How insane is that?”

Garlow said, “We need to see a turn in this country in the next 30 days.”

Carol D (346)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 1:14 am
I say More power to them and may the grace of GOD shine on them!!!!!!!!!!

Mary Riley (999)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 1:16 am
And let the tax dollars roll in!

Jae A (320)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 1:52 am
So it's ok for churches to break our laws...I don't think so...this isn't the middle east where that knd of insanitea is ok...and this is what happens when religion is given special treatment in the first place. There need to be a lot of IRS bust going on as soon as these anti-American law breakers do there breaking of our tax laws. No one should be above the law in the U.S....period !! Time to start taxing those that do for sure.

Carol D (346)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 2:22 am
Mary...I think you may have missed the whole point of this...Obama and his administration has come down with an iron fist on churches and religion...this is the churches and religion saying back off!! I agree with them!!

Carol D (346)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 2:27 am
Jae..No churches are breaking the law...and you think in the middle east anything to do with church's is OK and allowed!? LOL Unbelievable!! In the middle east they do just what Obama has done here..the only thing not happening yet here is the be-headings! You want to talk about nobody being above the law in this country you hypocrite... go and talk to Obama and Moochelle and Holder and every other crook he has working for him!!! THEN you may be justified in what you say until then you are so full of hot air it's a wonder you are not 3,000 ft in the air...all the time!!

Carol D (346)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 2:30 am
Mary..for some reason your reply is not showing up here...yet...anyway I do not understand your comment about them calling this a cultural myth!

Paula M (39)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 4:24 pm
I don't have any problem with churches addressing moral issues but I do not think it is a good idea for them to promote specific candidates. I'm not sure that I would consider this a "separation of church and state" issue as much as I just don't see that promotion of a specific candidate or party to be a legitimate religious function that should be protected as a part of freedom of worship.

People don't vote for candidates because their church instructs them to, and it is both silly and dangerous for religious leaders to pretend otherwise. People vote for candidates who best represent their values, and while peoples' values may be informed by the teachings of their churches you will often see churchmembers who agree on values disagree as to which candidate best represents those principles.

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 1:55 am
I agree with you Paula...I don't think this article has to do though with supporting any political candidate..I think it's more the fact that the government has been coming down on the churches plus the government is directly telling, leading people to believe things that the church condemns and preaches as immoral or otherwise is OK to do. IMO they are doing this spitefully knowing this will affect the churches and the church members because they are trying to rid the country of God and churches. This is just the churches fighting back IMO saying this is not a Democrat or a Republican thing..because it's really not..go by your heart and your religious beliefs as far as what you feel and know is wrong to do.

pam w (139)
Friday October 5, 2012, 8:59 am
As tax-exempt institutions, churches have no business in politics. Just because YOU are religious, Carol, doesn't mean I have to subsidize your religion.

Remember all the clap-trap from Christians whining about not wanting to subsidize womens' health care?


I NO LONGER WANT TO SUBSIDIZE YOUR RELIGION. Keep out of government or face a potentially unpleasant outcry from Secular Humanists....and we've got the ACLU standing by...don't think we're not mobilizing.

This is the United States.....NOT Tehran!

We're NOT a theocracy.

Thomas P (449)
Friday October 5, 2012, 9:02 am
If they really go through with this, I hope those churches that do speak on politics and/or endorse a candidate (BTW, who doesn't think most of these people will endorse so-callled pro-life candidates) lose their tax exempt status, which would also mean that all those who give to them would lose their charitable contribution deduction for any money they give to them. Churches have no inherent right not to be taxed should they violate the law that says they can't endorse candidates. Church and state ARE supposed to be separate.

pam w (139)
Friday October 5, 2012, 9:03 am
As tax-exempt institutions, churches have no business in politics. Just because YOU are religious, Carol, doesn't mean I have to subsidize your religion.

Remember all the clap-trap from Christians whining about not wanting to subsidize womens' health care?


I NO LONGER WANT TO SUBSIDIZE YOUR RELIGION. Keep out of government or face a potentially unpleasant outcry from Secular Humanists....and we've got the ACLU standing by...don't think we're not mobilizing.

This is the United States.....NOT Tehran!

We're NOT a theocracy.

Your accusation of "trying to rid the country of god and churches" is just nonsense! NOBODY cares if you want your religion....just keep it out of the publicly-funded venues.

Karin B (33)
Friday October 5, 2012, 1:13 pm
One easy way to move toward closing the deficit is to pull the tax exempt status of churches. I have to agree with Pam W., why should I subsidize your religion, especially since so many church leaders are against women rights?

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 1:42 pm
As tax-exempt institutions, churches have no business in politics. Just because YOU are religious, Carol, doesn't mean I have to subsidize your religion.

So Pam..then the government has NO business telling the churches they have to abide by what the government wants as in performing abortions and the like!! The government/Obama is TELLING the churches what they have to do in their institutions AGAINST their will and beliefs!! So in fact you should be saying "The government should stay the hell out of religious institutions!!!" The churches are merely saying to it's parishoners to not let the government affect their beliefs and morals as a Christian!! If you don't like that...well I guess that is unfortunate! Maybe you like people telling you to do what you don't want to do or believe in!? Because this is what you are sticking up for!!

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 1:49 pm
Karin..The church is not against women's rights unless you consider murder of innocent human beings a right!? And if that is the case then I would guess you consider the killing of animals to be the worst thing that can happen!? This whole issue of the pastors speaking out is the fact the government thinks they can tell churches what to do. It's no different than if someone comes to your door into your house and starts telling you what they want you to do in YOUR house!!

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 1:52 pm
Oh..And by the way it was the government that GAVE that right to women that they can murder innocent lives..the government had NO right in the first place to give that right to women and one of the women who created that horror now is against it and is pro life...and now you are saying the church has no right to tell the government to stop trying to force the church to do immoral actions against their beliefs!?

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 1:56 pm
If they really go through with this, I hope those churches that do speak on politics and/or endorse a candidate

Thomas..This is not about endorsing political is about telling the government to butt out of church affairs...plain and simple and by the way churches do MANY charity functions where it helps out the they get recognized by doing that!? Hell no!

Past Member (0)
Friday October 5, 2012, 2:01 pm
If what it has said is true; if 1500 ministers are preaching politics from the pulpits: then tax every one of those churches now. They have violated their tax-exempt status.

pam w (139)
Friday October 5, 2012, 2:17 pm
I really DO want a Christian theocracy, don't you?

OVER MY DEAD BODY! And those of many, many others.

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 2:50 pm
Believe what you want Pam!!!

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 2:53 pm
And there are already Millions and trillions of dead little bodies because people like you support the murder of them! Sorry...but I don't and especially at the hands of our government that you consistently say the church should stay out of when in fact it is the government trying to weasle it's way into the church!

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday October 5, 2012, 3:41 pm
Count me among those who believe the churches should definitely lose their tax-exempt status. What part of "separation of church & state" is not being understood here? The issue on abortion here was on women's health care. This is neither a matter of church nor is a matter between doctor and patient. Health insurance plans must cover women's healthcare. Whether or not she and her physician decide on contraceptives, and what type of contraception is strictly a health matter decided by those 2 people. Abortion is not a matter decided by someone else's conscience or dictates. This is a medical decision. Period.

Wayne W (12)
Friday October 5, 2012, 3:46 pm
"The government/Obama is TELLING the churches what they have to do in their institutions AGAINST their will and beliefs!"

Absolutely not true. You should be more careful with the facts.

President Barack Obama dampened down weeks of furor over insurance coverage of birth control with an announcement Friday that Catholic and other religious-run institutions won't have to provide it

Opposition to birth control is an attack on civilization. Unchecked population growth is not sustainable.

The whole issue is a fraud intended to damage the ACA. As we saw, the issue was easily worked out. Your right to swing your religious freedom ends where the nose of my civik rights begins.

Christine Bradley (1)
Friday October 5, 2012, 4:10 pm
I don't think we should be paying for planned parenthood. Not at all! We Christians have a right to our religion and should not have to pay for murder!

pam w (139)
Friday October 5, 2012, 4:16 pm
Just more anti-choice paranoia masquerading as "freedom of worship." BULL. I'm done...and I WILL believe what's RIGHT and I'll continue to support Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

I'm done....

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 4:48 pm
Then keep on supporting murder Pam! Less guilt when the government says it's ok..I know!

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday October 5, 2012, 5:07 pm
I'm with you, Pam. I'm hoping to rearrange my budget and add to my monthly gift to ACLU, NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Unwanted children become homeless or abused children---often starved of food and love, and too many end up in the prison system....another drain on our taxes. Heartless!

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 5:24 pm
What is heartless is the fact people will support an organization that murders innocent lives because of the "irresponsibility" of those who become PG KNOWING what it is that makes babies!! And then will sign petitions for saving every animal on the planet!! HYPOCRITES!!!

Janet R (38)
Friday October 5, 2012, 5:28 pm
Carol, using the middle east as an example is pointless as they do not have a democracy like we do. Separation of church and state has working in this country for hundreds of years; it doesn't need to be changed. And, if churches meddle in politics then their tax exempt status should be removed. Those of you who are so religious and want to shove your religion down everyone's throat should review the most important part of the Bible, the ten commandments. And, the most important thing which needs to be in quotes - MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 6:36 pm

So Janet...Does this go for the government also in trying to tell Christians what to believe and what they WILL do and what they won't do!?!? Whether it is against their religious beliefs or not!? All I am hearing here is that the church should stay the hell out of government..but NOTHING about government over stepping boundaries forcing themselves ONTO Christians and their beliefs...what the heck is!? A one way street!?!? it sure as the heck looks like it to me. The government is shoving their agenda DOWN OUR THROATS...WE DO NOT LIKE IT...DO YOU GET THAT PART!?!? The government can stay the hell OUT OF RELIGION and there won't be a problem..wake the heck up!! Start blaming the proper source which is OUR GOVERNMENT and OBAMA!!!

Carol D (346)
Friday October 5, 2012, 6:36 pm
And WHO is using the middle east as an example!?

Lloyd H (46)
Friday October 5, 2012, 7:58 pm
Carol Dreeszen, like it or not there is a separation of church and state in the US Constitution. If you want government out of religion keep religion out of government. I always find it disgustingly interesting that Obama's assault on religion, usually applied to contraception, allows religious institutions to discriminate against their female employees but the LAW under 8 years of Repug/Bush did not allow any religious institutions of any kind to deny contraceptive coverage at all.
I say let the Christian Taliban of America preach their Christian Sharia from the pulpit in direct violation of US law then yank their TAX EXEMPT STATUS asrequiredd by LAW. And how about all of the FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS going to these fineChristiann Jihadi Institutions via Faith BasedInitiativess be cut off and put work creating jobs or cutting the deficit or debt.

Laura H (964)
Friday October 5, 2012, 8:52 pm
If a Christian has a problem with abortion then they cannot vote for Romney; he made tons of money off of aborted fetuses. Remember Stericycle?


Donna W (0)
Saturday October 6, 2012, 8:28 am
They can preach on politics all they want -- as long as they lose their tax exempt status! Let 'em pay taxes like the rest of us who are not tax exempt. Fair is fair.

Cam V (417)
Saturday October 6, 2012, 1:41 pm
Separation of church and state is what guarantees freedoms for all of us here in North America. It makes it possible for us to be believers or as I am non believers. Anyone who does not like this should spend time in Muslims countries where actual persecution takes place. Because of what we have here people have the right to live their lives as they want to without fear of jail or death. Can't have it both ways.

Carol is a wonderfully warm Christian friend of mine here. No need to ATTACK her because of that and that is what most of you have done here. You either believe in freedom or you do not but either way there is no reason for ANYONE to attempt to condemn someone else for what they believe.

Carol D (346)
Saturday October 6, 2012, 10:04 pm
Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Carol D (346)
Saturday October 6, 2012, 10:05 pm
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Deborah W (6)
Sunday October 7, 2012, 6:52 am
Given Obama's past history of using and spitting out needed resources no longer needed to promote his own personal agenda ... i.e. Jeremiah Wright (20+ years, then dumped when uncomfortable), Jessie Jackson (when every Saturday for a year at PUSH, honing speech-building skills and clocking results of what does and doesn't work was no longer needed), etc. gives one pause while realizing good and evil stand side by side, always has and always will. Be careful!
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