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Rockdale County agreed to a federal court injunction issued Friday that allows a church to temporarily reconvene in a building where the county previously denied access because the property was less than three acres in size.
Claiming that churches are victim to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, Alliance Defending Freedom urges pastors to participate in ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’
God Discussion (video embedded): The Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund, ADF) is gearing up for Pulpit Freedom Sunday scheduled for October 7. In a video published on YouTube this week, the organization’s senior legal counsel, Erik Stanley, says . . .
One News Now: “Government officials shouldn’t use zoning restrictions to close down religious services of small, start-up churches,” argues ADF attorney Erik Stanley. “Not only is it irresponsible to target small ministries dedicated to serving the community, it’s unconstitutional and violates federal law.
Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Where did America’s churches ever get the idea that it was okay to invite IRS officials into the process of sermon preparation and allow them to wield the power of censorship over what your pastor says from the pulpit? Such a regime is not okay, and indeed, it is unconstitutional.
One News Now: Attorney Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) says the complaints are “the same tiresome claims from a group that is intent on bullying churches and intimidating them into silence.” “What this pastor did in Kentucky was nothing more than to exercise his constitutional right to speak freely from his pulpit,” Stanley asserts. “No pastor anywhere should ever have to fear the IRS, or Americans United or any other group for that matter when they stand and they speak biblical truth in the pulpit. That’s all this pastor was doing.”
Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: The Devon Park United Methodist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, served as a polling place and also put a message on its church sign that read, “A true marriage is male and female and God.” Voters saw the sign on their way in to vote and some complained about the message. One woman even called the message on the sign “voter intimidation.” . . . The elections board for the county where the church is located plans to address the issue of the church’s sign in the coming days.
One News Now: ADF attorney Erik Stanley weighs in on the issue. “Public monuments to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice should not be dismantled because a few offended activists want to scrub the public square clean of anything that hints of religion,” says Stanley . . . ADF attorney Joe Infranco says that complaint is getting old. “The idea that this 91-year-old memorial is unconstitutional is a tiresome claim from a radical group that has dreamed of a purely secularized society for years,” states Infranco.
Erik Stanley at the
Christian Post: Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, also believes the law is unconstitutional. He told CP in an emailed statement that Hutchinson appears to want to “force churches back into their own four walls.” “It is the church that decides what is acceptable for itself under its religious doctrine and it is not the government’s role to force a church to violate that doctrine,” he said. “This ordinance should never pass because it is unconstitutional. But if it does and Hutchinson attempts to force churches to violate their religious beliefs, ADF will not hesitate to use the legal process to protect the constitutional rights of churches.”
Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: As readers of this blog know, ADF has conducted Pulpit Freedom Sunday since 2008. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is a legal project designed to restore a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing government censorship or control. The government, by applying the Johnson Amendment to churches and pastors, has been mandating that certain content in a pastor’s sermon is off-limits and can result in penalties against the church.
Baptist Press: Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, says that pastors and congregations have nothing to fear. Under IRS law, churches cannot endorse candidates but they can lobby for specific legislation — here, ballot initiatives — provided that the time and money spent doing so is less than 5 percent of their overall operation and budget, Stanley said. “I cannot foresee any situation where a church would come anywhere close to violating that prohibition,” Stanley told Baptist Press of the 5 percent limit. “Essentially, a church would have to devote itself almost wholeheartedly to lobbying efforts in order to be at risk.”
Times Union: There was a verdict in the wrenching Rutgers webcam spying case, but no resolution to a broader question that hovered over it: To what extent are hate crime laws a help or a hindrance in the pursuit of justice? . . . “These laws serve only one purpose — they criminalize thoughts and beliefs that are not considered politically correct,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund. “There’s a clash and a conflict — I don’t know that it’s here yet, but it’s coming — with freedom of expression and freedom of religion,” Stanley said.
Acton Institute: As society becomes more secularized, the calls for churches to pay their “fair share” become more vocal. Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, explains why churches should remain exempt from paying taxes . . .
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at Baptist Press: Why is your church tax exempt? Why should it continue to be tax exempt? If I were to sit down and ask you these questions, would you have a clear and coherent answer? I suspect this is something we seldom think about. After all, tax exemption for churches has always been given and we assume, because of its historical longevity, it always will be given.
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: As I recently posted, there are very good reasons why churches should be tax exempt. One Nashville church, though, found that its attempts to reach out to the poor and needy in the community resulted in a very large property tax bill. Their case is an example of the increasing attacks on church tax exemption.
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: The fact that most Americans cannot explain why their church is tax exempt indicates a forgotten history and is emblematic of a society that has systematically devalued the church as a beneficial societal institution.
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: The upshot of these cases is that even though churches are not required to apply for a tax exemption from the IRS, churches are still subject to the restrictions in section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. That means all churches are required to abide by 501(c)(3). And if you think about this logically, it makes sense. The way the federal tax code works is to begin from the assumption that all organizations are taxable unless they meet an exemption from taxation specified in the tax code. Thus, for a church to be considered exempt from taxation, it must meet a specific exemption under section 501(c) of the tax code. The specific exemption that churches fall under is section 501(c)(3). And this is where the problem arises because the restrictions on churches in 501(c)(3) are unconstitutional. The passage of the Johnson Amendment in 1954 added a restriction to 501(c)(3) that allows the IRS to censor a pastor’s sermon from the pulpit
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Let me break down this legalese. What this bill says is that if a church rents out its facilities for non-members to use for weddings, then it will be forced to allow a same-sex couple to use its facilities for a same-sex “marriage” ceremony . . .
Amy Ridenour’s National Center Blog: According to experts in tax law, Jarrett’s overt criticism of Republicans may have violated IRS rules that bar churches from engaging in partisan activism. Eric Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (a critic of such laws), told the Daily Caller: “It is problematic under current regulations.”
White House Advisor Campaigns From a Church PulpitWhite House Advisor Campaigns From a Church Pulpit
John Hayward Human Events: However, the IRS’ enforcement of its rules are skewed, said Stanley. ‘The IRS’ record of enforcement against churches has been atrocious, uneven, discriminatory and arbitrary,” he said. “Usually more liberal churches and more African-American churches have been [engaged in political activities] for years… whether it is legal or not,” said [Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund], who wants to persuade the Supreme Court to invalidate IRS curbs on clerics’ speech . . .
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Earlier, Kevin Theriot blogged about the Supreme Court’s decision in EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor. The case was a phenomenal win for religious freedom and has far-reaching implications. In analyzing the opinion, one important implication is that the Supreme Court has announced heightened protection for the internal affairs of a church and for situations that affect the faith and mission of the church.
Baptist Press: “It is problematic under current regulations,” said Erik Stanley, a senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, which is campaigning to roll back IRS curbs on believers’ speech. But if the IRS concludes that the church violated the IRS code, the ADF “will represent the church, just as it would represent any church for what is said from the pulpit,” he said.
Christianity Today: Until the IRS sorts out who can authorize church audits, churches are left in limbo, said Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) senior legal counsel Erik Stanley. “It has become an intolerable system of self-censorship,” he said. “Society labels biblical issues as political, and pastors just back away.”
Our Sunday Visitor: What can clergy in the pulpit and Catholic nonprofits say about politics without fear of IRS retribution? The answer should be anything, said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, which supports “the legal defense of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, marriage and the family.”
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at the SpeakUp Movement Church Blog: As of the time I write this blog, the IRS has not responded in any way to any of the pastors who participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. In fact, pastors have been participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday since 2008 but no pastor has ever been punished or censored by the IRS for a Pulpit Freedom Sunday sermon.
Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: The settlement is a great victory for the churches in Mission. The City of Mission had forgotten to respect the tax exemption given to churches and may have forgotten the reasons why churches have those exemptions in the first place. Churches are exempt for good reason.
Greeley Gazette: Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, told WND the move was alarming because “this would be the very first governmental and societal disapproval of a sincerely held religious belief, held by a majority of Americans, namely that homosexual behavior is immoral. “It’s the first time the federal government is writing into law a disapproval of that belief,” he said.
Dakota Voice: Eric Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund was on Wallbuilders Live yesterday (they’re having some great shows, lately), discussing the Pulpit Initiative . . . The Alliance Defense Fund is an organization established to defend religious liberty in America from the assaults of secularists that have become so common in recent decades. They have allied attorneys all over the country who can help defend churches, pastors, ministry leaders and lay Christians to maintain their religious liberties. In many ways, ADF is the counter to the anti-Christian, anti-American ACLU.
USCatholic.org: Deirdre Dessingue, associate general counsel at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “But there has been a change in the mood.” She cited several factors affecting that change in mood . . . and continuing efforts by the Alliance Defense Fund to draw the IRS into a battle with a church whose pastor has endorsed a political candidate from the pulpit. “Churches should be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to talk about,” said Erik Stanley, ADF senior legal counsel. “The IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status.” That approach is far from the stand taken by the USCCB, however.
Erik Stanley on the Mark Larson Show with Pastor Jim Garlow: What is Pulpit Freedom Sunday? How did it start?
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley on the Mark Larson Show with Pastor Jim Garlow. | MP3 audio 23:09 mins | Pulpit Freedom Sunday
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Every time I mention Pulpit Freedom Sunday, I generally get two basic objections to the concept of Pulpit Freedom. Yet these objections in some way are either misguided or just flat out wrong.
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at Speak Up Movement Church Blog: A total of 539 pastors participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday which was a massive increase from the 100 pastors that participated last year.
Lewisville Leader: The conference featured speakers including Timothy Barton of WallBuilders, Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Kerby Anderson of Point of View Ministries, Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund, Pastor Geoffrey Cohen of Gateway Church and Dan Panetti, Worldview Director of Prestonwood Christian Academy.
CNN.com: “We basically see Pulpit Freedom Sunday as a means of protecting a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing government censorship in any way,” said Erik Stanley, ADF’s senior legal counsel and organizer of Pulpit Freedom Sunday.
PR.com: This year’s conference will feature an array of very respected speakers including Timothy Barton of WallBuilders, Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Kerby Anderson of Point of View Ministries, Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund, Pastor Geoffrey Cohen of Gateway Church, and Dan Panetti, Worldview Director of Prestonwood Christian Academy.
WorldNetDaily: A headline in the Washington Times – “IRS Has No Business Censoring Pastors – First Amendment Supersedes Tax Regulation” – accompanies attorney Erik Stanley’s article, which includes the following: “To even suggest that any governmental agency or official has the right to punish a pastor because of something he says from the pulpit is not only offensive but unconstitutional. No pastor should ever have to dance around an issue or self-censor his sermon because of an Internal Revenue Service rule. In America, we value everyone’s constitutionally protected right to free speech and free exercise of religion. Nonetheless, there exists just such an IRS rule. It’s known as the Johnson Amendment. Getting rid of it was the motivation behind the Alliance Defense Fund’s fourth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which took place this past Sunday.
Steve Klingaman at Open Salon: In a move designed to provoke the Internal Revenue Service into action, activist clergymen and women (if there are any women) organized by the hardcore conservative Alliance Defense Fund intend to skirt or cross the line between religious and political speech from the pulpit. But just where is the line? According to IRS regulations, the line is no line in the sand, more serpentine calligraphy in quicksand. In this prohibition, context is everything, and, I’ll warn you, it’s complicated.
Tobin Grant at Christianity Today: “ADF is not trying to get politics into the pulpit. Churches can decide for themselves that they either do or don’t want their pastors to speak about electoral candidates. The point of the Pulpit Initiative is very simple: the IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status. We need to get the government out of the pulpit,” said Stanley.
CBN News: The IRS cannot be a content manager or regulator,” Rev. Kevin Baird, Legacy Church in West Ashley, S.C., told The Post and Courier. “There is a legitimate intimidation factor that comes from the IRS and the Left to squelch conservative pastors,” he said.
NYTimes.com: The Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit legal defense group whose founders include James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, sponsors the annual event, which started with 33 pastors in 2008. This year, Glenn Beck has been promoting it, calling for 1,000 religious leaders to sign on and generating additional interest at the beginning of a presidential election cycle . . . “It’s frustrating,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel at Alliance Defense. “The law is on the books but they don’t enforce it, leaving churches in limbo.”
“Pastors plan civil disobedience act October 2nd by preaching politics from the pulpit” | God Discussion
God Discussion: On October 2, 2011, pastors across the country are going to participate in a yearly act of civil disobedience: they’re going to risk their 501(c) 3 tax exempt status by openly endorsing or supporting political candidates from the pulpit on Sunday. [embeds ADF video]
The Tennessean | tennessean.com: “The issue of whether the IRS can censor what a pastor says in the pulpit has never been tested in court,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.
Examiner.com: “Pastors and churches shouldn’t live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “Churches should be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to talk about. The IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status. No government-recognized status can be conditioned upon the surrender of a constitutionally protected right. That’s why ADF started Pulpit Freedom Sunday: to get the government out of the pulpits of America.”
TaxProf Blog: Today is the fourth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday, as 500 pastors plan to discuss politics and candidates in their sermons, flouting the law against campaigning by churches. New York Times, The Political Pulpit . . . (includes video)
Why pastors shouldn’t play politics from pulpit | Alaska Dispatch: As background, the Alliance Defense Fund argues that no house of worship should ever be taxed by government. And people who donate money to a church should be able to deduct such gifts on their income taxes. It is those donations that are at the heart of the constitutional battle.
More Pastors Sign on to Preach Politics From Pulpit, Christian News: This Sunday, more than 400 pastors will be using their pulpits to preach politics and challenge the Internal Revenue Service’s regulations that restrict religious leaders from endorsing candidates and discussing policies with their congregations . . . “Our goal has always been … to have the Johnson amendment declared unconstitutional,” Stanley said.
Erik Stanley: “IRS has no business telling pastors how to choose their words: 1st Amendment comes before tax regulations”
To even suggest that any governmental agency or official has the right to punish a pastor because of something he says from the pulpit is not only offensive, but unconstitutional. No pastor should ever have to dance around an issue or to self-censor his sermon when he preaches from the pulpit because of an IRS rule. In America, we value everyone’s constitutionally protected right to free speech and free exercise of religion.
Dakota Voice: Pastors from more than 475 churches nationwide have registered to participate in the Alliance Defense Fund’s fourth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday on Oct. 2. The total reflects nearly five times as many participants as last year’s total of approximately 100 pastors.
ADF Attorney Erik Stanely at Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Yet a growing nationwide movement of pastors are refusing to be intimidated. They are willing to stand up and exercise their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and free exercise of religion by boldly preaching on Pulpit Freedom Sunday. These pastors are courageously regaining the freedom of the pulpit.
Erik Stanley Grounded with Ryan Dobson: The Black Robed Regiment – Enflaming the People’s Hearts for Independence
OneNewsNow.com: “All of this is related to a group called the Tennessee Equality Project that made an effort to unseat some councilmen who were opposed to an ordinance that would have provided preferential treatment for sexual orientation,” explains Erik Stanley, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). [more quotes from Erik]
Christian Post: Yet Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund believes the guidelines should be discarded. “Pastors have a right to speak about Biblical truths from the pulpit without fear of punishment,” he said in a statement. Referring to the enforcement of federal tax regulation, Stanley continued, “No one should be able to use the government to intimidate pastors into giving up their constitutional rights.”
Erik Stanley at Townhall: Yet it remains a fact that every Sunday, when pastors in America ascend the pulpit, they face the cruel and unusual prospect of exchanging their natural, God-given right to free speech for a government-ordained lexicon (if they want to keep their tax-exempt status).
Pamela Kimble at Cross Timbers Gazette: On October 20th, Reclaiming Texas For Christ will hold their second annual FREE conference for pastors, lay leaders, and everyday citizens who are concerned about the crumbling of this nation’s spiritual foundation. An impressive array of speakers will headline this year’s conference. In this FREE afternoon conference, attendees will hear from Timothy Barton of nationally recognized WallBuilders, Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund, Pastor Geoffrey Cohen of Gateway Church, Dan Panetti of Prestonwood Church, and talk show host Kerby Anderson of Point of View Ministries.
OneNewsNow.com: ADF attorney Erik Stanley does not believe pastors and churches should live in fear of being punished or penalized by the government in any way. “Keeping the gospel central to what is preached is not in conflict with addressing the subject of political candidates when that is warranted,” he contends. “These survey results show that the desire to keep the gospel central does not mean that pastors want the IRS to regulate their sermons under the threat of revoking their church’s tax-exempt status.”
Fredericksburg, VA Patch: The Fredericksburg City Council unanimously voted to deny a special use permit to Calvary Christian Center to operate a day school for mentally disabled children on their premises . . . We’re disappointed in the outcome of the vote,” said Eric Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian non-profit advocacy group which advocates for religious rights. ADF lawyers are representing Calvary Christian Center in both federal court and at the local level as the church tries to establish the day school. “We were hopeful that the city would agree that that was a resolution of the federal lawsuit and all the other issues, but obviously the city wants to litigate this matter and that’s what we’ll do.” [more . . .]
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at Townhall : Many of you by now have heard about an event that has taken place each year since 2008 where pastors from across the country look at the positions held by candidates running for office, evaluate how those positions line up with Scripture and, based on that evaluation, either favor or oppose a candidate from the pulpit. The event, sponsored by the Alliance Defense Fund, is called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. This year, it occurs on Oct. 2.
The New Civil Rights Movement: The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the conservative Christian lawyers who are supporting Prop 8 in federal court, are beginning a push to force the IRS to end its regulations that prohibit churches and other religious institutions from campaigning. [more . . . ]
89.3 KPCC Southern Cal. Public Radio: A well funded Christian legal defense organization called the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is leading the charge to overturn the amendment that bans political speech in churches. For the last 3 years the organization has sponsored an event in which pastors give a political sermon and send the text of their speech to the IRS, hoping to trigger an audit. The ADF then offers free legal services to any pastor that gets audited. So far, the IRS hasn’t taken the bait. According to the ADF, the first amendment trumps tax law and pastors should be able to advocate for whatever they want. | ADF Attorney Erik Stanley and Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State were on the program.
OneNewsNow.com: “Tax exemptions for churches are vitally important, because it doesn’t make sense to penalize organizations that help serve the community and that don’t exist for profit. That’s certainly true with this church,” Stanley argues. “The taxing authorities in this case determined that the facilities were not integral to a religious purpose of the church, but the government is ill equipped to determine what is and what isn’t a legitimate religious use.”
Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: The realm of the Church is being invaded by the realm of the political today. This might seem like a strange statement, but consider this example . . .
The Tennessean (includes photo of Erik): On Friday, the church, armed with lawyers from the conservative Arizona-based Christian legal group The Alliance Defense Fund, took its case to Davidson County Chancery Court and argued that its constitutional rights are being violated. Alliance Defense Fund lawyer Erik Stanley noted that state law exempts college bookstores, hospital gift shops and “family wellness centers” from paying property taxes. “In each of these instances, facilities similarly situated are granted a property tax exemption,” Stanley said. “Where the line is drawn here, it must be drawn consistently.”
Erik Stanley: “A Page of History is Worth a Volume of Logic: The History of Politics from the Pulpit”
ADF Attorney Erik Stanley at Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Over at Dakota Voice, Bob Ellis has an interesting post that details the history of politics from the pulpit in America. Bob does a good job of detailing many of the stories where pastors in American history spoke forcefully and with great conviction from their pulpits about political matters. From the very beginning of our country, pastors spoke from their pulpits about matters of American life and politics that intersected with morality and religion. After reviewing this extensive history, Bob concludes . . .
Jim Garlow at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Who is the most courageous pastor in America? There are likely many candidates for this title, but I would nominate Pastor Ruben Diaz of New York City. After you hear what he stands for and what he has endured, you might want to nominate him, too.
Erik Stanley at Speak Up Movement Church Blog : His sermon finished, he offered the benediction, and then deliberately disrobed in front of his congregation, revealing the uniform of a military officer beneath his clerical robes. He descended from the pulpit, marched to the back door of the church, and ordered the drums to beat for recruits.
News from Maine Family Policy Council: Featured on the national webinar will be America’s premier Christian thinker and spokesman, Chuck Colson, Bishop Joe Mattera of New York City, Pastor Benny Tate of Atlanta, GA, and Pastor Jim Franklin of Fresno, CA, along with Attorney Erik Stanley from Leawood, KS.