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The Christian Post: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley agreed. “We believe that the Johnson Amendment is blatantly unconstitutional; it needs to be struck down in federal court.”
The Christian Post: “Churches have a right to know how they will be treated by the IRS,” said ADF’s Erik Stanley. “And the IRS, as a public agency, cannot enact new policies in secrecy.”
Point of View: October 5 is when the annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” takes place. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has organized this event each year.
BR Now: Alliance Defending Freedom has been campaigning to overturn the portion of the tax code that prohibits nonprofit organizations from “intervening in political campaigns as a condition of their tax-exempt status.”
Life News: Last month, the pro-life legal group Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Internal Revenue Service Tuesday to release all documents related to its recent decision to settle a lawsuit with an atheist group that claims the IRS has adopted new protocols and procedures for the investigation of churches.
WND: “Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb.
National Review: The IRS did at least try to initially dismiss the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s lawsuit, but this was followed by what appears to be an effort to reach a secret agreement with angry atheists. So the initial resistance crumbled, and now an atheist group known for making wildly unconstitutional demands on religious expression is crowing about a great “victory.”
GOP USA: OneNewsNow reported in July that Alliance Defending Freedom and its annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” have been daring the IRS to sue pastors for asserting their First Amendment rights behind the pulpit.
Speak Up Movement: If pastors did not speak about the evils of slavery, where would we be today? If pastors did not stand for women to be treated as more than property, how different would society look?
Standard News Wire: According to an IRS letter to the U.S. Department of Justice that was entered into the official record of the FFRF lawsuit, 99 churches have been determined to “merit a high priority examination.” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an NRB Member, has requested all documents related to the settlement of this lawsuit with FFRF, given the indication that procedures for church investigation have been prepared by the IRS.
Charisma News: Erik Stanley, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, said the IRS settlement with the atheist group should create concern, telling The Blaze, “Every American should fear an IRS that uses its vast power to target, threaten and punish political opponents. Churches have succumbed to this regime of fear for the last 60 years under the Johnson Amendment, which was added to the tax code specifically to silence speech a politician didn’t like.”
Vice News: Also following the settlement, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian group, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for details of the IRS exchanges with the FFRF.
Courthouse News Service: “The IRS cannot force churches to give up their precious constitutionally protected freedoms to receive a tax exemption,” Stanley said in a statement.
Via Point of View. Erik Stanley starts at 43:19, and Kerri Kupec starts at 1:14:05.
RedState: The new IRS targeting program has been instituted at the behest of the angry atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
Erik Stanley discusses Pulpit Freedom Initiative and the IRS investigation with Janet Mefferd (audio)
Financial Buzz: The shocking evidence has been made public by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of the largest civil and constitutional rights activists in the USA. The ADF also said that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) was given assurance by the IRS to go after churches, especially those known as Rogue Political Churches, to put them under investigation.
Via Fox News. J. Christian Adams sounds off about the IRS deciding to investigate churches.
‘Major Victory’: Atheist group reveals what led to its settlement with the IRS over church politicking
The Blaze: The Freedom From Religion Foundation and conservative groups have long clashed over the issue of church politicking, with the conservative legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom organizing the annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” event.
National Review: As the IRS continues to come under well-aimed fire for harassing conservative groups, on Friday it secured a final court order formalizing what amounts to a secret agreement to monitor the pulpits of ill-favored churches. The serious danger, as former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams told Fox News, is that the IRS will start treating “theology as politics,” and regulate it accordingly.
Nathan Cherry: Groups like the FFRF and AU would love nothing more than to see the IRS begin cracking down on churches that engage in this “illegal” activity. But, as I’ve heard my friend and senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, Erik Stanley say more than once, they know better.
Courthouse News Service: “The IRS cannot force churches to give up their precious constitutionally protected freedoms to receive a tax exemption,” Erik Stanley said in a statement.
New OK: “Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups,” Christiana Holcomb, a litigation counsel for the group, said in a statement.
PJ Media: There is no way to know for sure which churches and denominations will come under investigation, though, because the IRS-FFRF deal is being kept secret, according to LifeNews. The Alliance Defending Freedom is using a Freedom of Information request against the IRS to force it to disclose the details of its plans for investigating churches.
The Blaze: “FFRF was asking that the Johnson Amendment be enforced against churches. The IRS has been enforcing the Johnson Amendment against churches since it was passed by Congress in 1954,” Erik Stanley, an attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, told TheBlaze. “The agency took a brief break from enforcing the law against churches in 2009 after its procedures for auditing churches was declared unlawful by a federal district court in Minnesota.”
The Christian Post: “Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups,” ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb said in a statement. “We are asking the IRS to disclose the new protocols and procedures it apparently adopted for determining whether to investigate churches. What it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day.”
Worthy News: The Alliance Defending Freedom has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Internal Revenue Service for any documents about the IRS having adopted new protocols and procedures for investigating churches.
WND: “Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb in an announcement Thursday.
One News Now: ADF senior counsel Erik Stanley says the settlement appears to make the IRS adopt new procedures that would allow it to being auditing churches again.
Christianity Today: “This is one of the major problems with the IRS,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with ADF. “They are secretive, which breeds mistrust and leads to problems in knowing just how they will enforce and interpret the law.”
Examiner: Erik Stanley, senior legial counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom and head of the Pulpit Initiative, told LifeSiteNews that “the IRS has no business censoring what a pastor preaches from the pulpit” and noted that his organization is “attempting to bring the era of the IRS censorship and intimidation to an end by challenging the Johnson Amendment, which imposes unconstitutional restrictions on clergy speech.”
Alliance Defending Freedom: Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Internal Revenue Service Tuesday to release all documents related to its recent decision to settle a lawsuit with an atheist group that claims the IRS has adopted new protocols and procedures for the investigation of churches.
National Catholic Reporter: Of particular concern to FFRF and other First Amendment advocacy organizations is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” a project of Alliance Defending Freedom, which focuses on freedom of religion issues. On Freedom Pulpit Sunday — which was last held in June 2013 with the participation of more than 1,100 churches — pastors are encouraged to advise their congregations on political matters, such as marriage and abortion rights, and even endorse or oppose candidates.
Speak Up Movement: Pulpit Freedom Sunday is about preaching a Biblical election sermon to inform your congregation on issues that were Biblical far before they were labeled “political” by the IRS.
The Christian Post: The U.S. Constitution protects churches that speak out on political issues, Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, told The Christian Post.
Speak Up Movement: In 2008, one pastor was audited by the IRS but the IRS dropped that audit soon after it began. No other church has been audited by the IRS as a result of the church’s participation in Pulpit Freedom Sunday.
AMAC: “On October 7, 2008, 33 pastors from 22 states participated i’n what was called ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday,’ an effort sponsored by the ‘Alliance Defending Freedom’ (ADF) organization. Attorney Erik Stanley, writing in the Regent University Law Review, noted: ‘. . . recent Supreme Court decisions. . . provide substantial guidance and support to the argument that the Johnson Amendment is hopelessly unconstitutional.’”
Christian Post: A project of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Pulpit Freedom Sunday involves churches blatantly violating the IRS ban in the hopes of creating a test case to declare the ban unconstitutional. When asked by CP what position Lakewood Church had on the debate, Iloff responded that “we comply with those IRS regulations” and that he did not feel Lakewood was “prepared to make a statement on that right now.”
Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches: Through efforts such as Pulpit Freedom Sunday, pastors openly flout the law. Enforcement of the rule, and the revocation of a participating church’s tax-exempt status, though, could trigger a constitutional challenge to it . . . The next Pulpit Freedom Sunday is scheduled for October 5, 2014, just before the midterm elections. The website for the event, a project of the Christian right legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom, claims “the future of religious freedom depends on a free pulpit to communicate fundamental, biblical principles to congregations across America” and urges pastors to “join a growing movement of bold pastors preaching Biblical Truth about candidates and elections from their pulpits.” . . . But ADF appears determined for a showdown. Its website notes that Pulpit Freedom Sunday grew from 33 participants in 2008 to 1,621 in 2012. And ADF has offered to represent any pastor investigated by the IRS free of charge.
Vicki Brown at Word & Way: Some groups, notably Alliance Defending Freedom, have been trying to push the law’s boundaries. Each year, usually in October, the alliance hosts its Pulpit Freedom Sunday in which it encourages pastors to openly defy the law in a worship service.
Hipster Conservative: Slate blogger Matthew Yglesias argues today that “We Should Be Taxing Churches.” Yglesias is uncomfortable with the way the tax code discriminates between churches that engage in “electioneering” and those which choose to refrain from endorsing political candidates. Rather, he suggests, all churches should be taxed regardless of their degree of political involvement.
Erik Stanley at Speak Up Movement: Bishop Shines is exactly right. For the first almost two hundred years of American history, pastors spoke boldly from the pulpit about the moral qualifications of candidates seeking public office. That changed with the passage of the Johnson Amendment in 1954.
World Magazine: “There’s no doubt in our minds that it’s unconstitutional, it just hasn’t been challenged as related to a pastor’s sermon from the pulpit,” said Erik Stanley, an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney who served as legal counsel to the commission . . . “Pastors who are participating are recruiting other pastors,” Stanley said. “I believe this really is becoming a nationwide movement of pastors who are saying, ‘You have no constitutional right to in any way interfere with what I preach from the pulpit to my congregation.’”
Washington Times: The amendment, however, only prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Pastor Cruz emphasized that pastors can and should speak out on issues of values. The “social gospel” is wrong and leads to political correctness. Pastors should concentrate instead on the gospel itself; that is, that salvation is a gift from God. In recent years the Alliance Defending Freedom has attempted to challenge the Johnson Amendment through the Pulpit Freedom Initiative, which urges church pastors to violate the statute in protest. The ADF contends that the amendment violates First Amendment rights.
Waxahachietx.com: Attorney Gary Bennett, Pastor Dan Cummins and Dr. Craig Mitchell would like to invite all local pastors, and anyone else interested in understanding the freedoms and liberties concerning church, to the Freedom and Power from the Pulpit event. It has been scheduled from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Waxahachie Civic Center . . . He is a national leader in the Pulpit Freedom Sunday initiative working with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF formerly Alliance Defense Fund) of Scottsdale, Ariz.
NRB: Beginning Monday, September 30, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Jim Garlow, the Senior Pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, CA, will come together for a new commentary format with emphasis on issues of church, family, and marriage for living out our faith in Christ in the public square . . . The enduring mission of ADF, according to ADF President Alan Sears, is “to gain justice for those whose faith has been unconstitutionally denied in the areas of liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” [more]
John Dart at the Christian Century: The makeup of the ECFA commission, noted Lynn of Americans United, includes Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, affiliated with Liberty University, and Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom. The latter group sponsors the annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday in which pastors are encouraged to preach sermons that evaluate candidates running for office in the light of scripture and make recommendations. Nearly 1,100 churches participated last June 9.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey of RNS at District Chronicles: “The report shows that Black churches have, for lack of a better word, gotten away with it for many years,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who gave advice on the commission report. “Simply put, this gets the IRS out of the pulpit.” When ADF’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday began in 2008, about 30 churches participated in the attempt to challenge the IRS by sending sermon transcripts in a bid to invite an IRS audit. In 2012, 1,600 churches participated, but none of them have heard from the IRS, Stanley said.
Freedom from Religion Foundation: The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s closely watched federal challenge over illegal partisan politicking by churches just got a green light from U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of the Western District of Wisconsin. Adelman’s decision will allow FFRF’s historic challenge to continue to discovery, so that the public may learn the facts regarding IRS inaction over church politickin . . . FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor blasted the recommendations by last week’s evangelical report, closely aligned to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which is “committed to helping Christ-centered organizations.” Participating members include those connected to the usual theocratic groups, including the Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian Legal Society, Campus Crusade for Christ and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, with a few token non-Christian groups thrown in . . .
Christian Commission Seeks Congressional Intervention in Keeping the IRS Out of the Pulpit | Christian News Network
Christian News Network: “The report shows that black churches have, for lack of a better word, gotten away with it for many years,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who helped to advise the Commission in the compilation of the report. “Simply put, this gets the IRS out of the pulpit.” ADF says that it would like to see the Johnson Amendment struck down in the courts. The amendment, passed in 1954 and introduced by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, states that churches 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.”
Christian Post: For several years, pastors have protested the tax code prohibition on political speech from religious groups through “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” On Pulpit Freedom Sunday, held this year on June 9, pastors across the country agree to speak out on a political issue in their sermons. The prohibition, the protestors argue, violates their First Amendment protections against government infringement on their speech and religious liberty.
Christian Post: Some churches deliberately engage in activities that violate the prohibition, but rarely face consequences. Since 2008, pastors across the United States (approximately 1,600 last year) have participated annually in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an initiative orchestrated by Alliance Defending Freedom in which pastors deliver sermons evaluating candidates for public office in light of Scripture. Some support or oppose candidates by name and send transcripts of their sermons to the IRS with a request to be audited. They hope to spark litigation on the constitutionality of the law, but the IRS has not taken up the challenge.
Jeff Kunerth at Orlando Sentinel: “The report shows that black churches have, for lack of a better word, gotten away with it for many years,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who gave advice on the commission report. “Simply put, this gets the IRS out of the pulpit.”
Sara Pulliam Bailey of Religion News Service at Daily Times: “The report shows that black churches have, for lack of a better word, gotten away with it for many years,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who gave advice on the commission report. “Simply put, this gets the IRS out of the pulpit.” When ADF’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday began in 2008, about 30 churches participated in the attempt to challenge the IRS by sending sermon transcripts in a bid to invite an IRS audit. In 2012, 1,600 churches participated, but none of them has heard from the IRS, Stanley said.
Charisma News: “The report shows that black churches have, for lack of a better word, gotten away with it for many years,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who gave advice on the commission report. “Simply put, this gets the IRS out of the pulpit.” When ADF’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday began in 2008, about 30 churches participated in the attempt to challenge the IRS by sending sermon transcripts in a bid to invite an IRS audit. In 2012, 1,600 churches participated, but none of them have heard from the IRS, Stanley said.
Bob Smietana of the Tennessean on StarPress.com: At the same time, activists have tried to pick a court fight over the rules. Last year, more than 1,600 pastors preached sermons aimed at challenging the IRS during “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” organized by the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defending Freedom. The Madison, Wisc.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the federal agency in an attempt to get it to enforce the clergy endorsement ban.
Bob Smietana of USA Today at GuamPDN.com: Michael Batts, chairman of the commission, said the current rules are not enforceable. There’s too much ambiguity, he said, and many pastors ignore them without consequence. “We believe that there are some serious dysfunctions and problems associated with the current law,” he said . . . At the same time, activists have tried to pick a court fight over the rules. Last year, more than 1,600 pastors preached sermons aimed at challenging the IRS during “Pulpit Freedom,” organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom of Scottsdale, Ariz. Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wis., sued the federal agency in an attempt to get it to enforce the clergy endorsement ban.
Washington Post: Even as polls show Americans broadly oppose electioneering from the pulpit, a new report by a group of faith leaders working closely with Capitol Hill argues for ending the decades-old ban on explicit clergy endorsements. The report being given Wednesday to Sen. Charles E. Grassley . . . More than 1,100 mostly conservative Christian pastors for the past few springs have been explicitly preaching politics — they call the annual event “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” — in an effort to lure the Internal Revenue Service into a court showdown . . .
Engage Family Minute: My encouragement to every pastor is to take a Sunday in June or July and be part of this movement to stand for the biblical principles our nation was founded upon. America, now more than ever, needs men of God that are more concerned with what God thinks than what man or the government thinks. If we don’t speak now, we can’t complain when our right to speak is taken away.
GOPUSA: Power in Washington is growing exponentially, but even now, most pastors are not warning their flocks of the danger. They could start by participating in the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday events. And they can start talking about the little girl who was nearly condemned to death for being 10 years old.
Recollecting the requirements of conscience: Why big government is the goliath to be feared | Robert Knight at Washington Times
Robert Knight at Washington Times: They could start by participating in the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday events. And they can start talking about the little girl who was nearly condemned to death for being 10 years old.
Pastors Nationwide to Challenge Government Speech Regulations on ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ | ChristianNews.net
ChristianNews.net: “When the church is silent, the culture suffers,” Stanley said. “The church is integral to the moral stability of a society. Every day that pastors are intimidated into silence on issues like life, liberty, the family, and marriage is another day the cultural erosion continues unchecked. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is just one opportunity for pastors to speak up and make a difference for the good of their congregations and the culture.”
GodDiscussion.com (video embedded): Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an annual gathering originally meant to protest tax regulations that prohibit churches from benefitting from tax exempt status if they endorse or oppose candidates for office (the Johnson amendment), is to be used this weekend to fight marriage equality. The embedded video featuring Jim Garlow and former politician Edward Meese claims that marriage equality threatens the Godly foundations of America.
Grand Forks Herald: As it happens, also Sunday, the conservative evangelical group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, will hold its sixth annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” in which it says 1,100 pastors from all 50 states have registered to “preach sermons that present the biblical perspective on marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” The Alliance says it is concerned that pastors’ constitutional rights of free speech in the pulpit could be threatened by the growing support around gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.
Charisma News: “Pastors should be able to speak truth into every area of life without fear or intimidation,” says ADF senior legal counsel Erik Stanley. “Pulpit Freedom Sunday has always encouraged pastors to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to do just that from their pulpits. This year, marriage is at the forefront of public debate. There’s no better time for pastors to equip their congregations with the truth about marriage and why it matters for children, families, society, civil government and the church.”