Coming on the heels of The Villages/Mitch Daniels ad controversy, I can't help but flag this story.
Tomorrow, thirty-three ministers will lead a protest called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," during which the ministers will endorse political candidate from the pulpit and then send videotapes of the sermons to the IRS.
The protest was organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a consortium of Christian lawyers that fight for conservative religious and social causes. From the New York Times:
Organizers said they wanted a range of clergy of various faiths and political persuasions to join the protest, but acknowledged that the participants might be "weighted” toward the conservative end of the spectrum and more likely to support the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, than the Democrat, Senator Barack
Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said: “This is not something these churches want to do in secrecy and hiding. In fact, they don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong. They don’t believe they’re violating the law.
“What they’re doing is talking to their congregations about biblical issues related to candidates and elections, and they believe they have the constitutional right to do that.”
This will end up in federal court where it will be determined that, indeed, these pastors have the right to speak favorably for a particular candidate as the spirit moves them. They just don't have the right to avoid paying taxes while doing it. Am I wrong, though, that any church that REALLY felt like its divine mission requires involvement in politics would just pay the taxes as a necessary evil to have unfettered pulpit freedom? Aren't those pastors suspect who bristle because paying taxes means there will be less in the church's building fund a bit suspect?