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Pastors should decide what to say from the pulpit not gov’t | Erik Stanley on the Bill Post Radio Show
Steve Siebold at the Huffington Post: An army of more than 1,000 pastors from around the country will take on the IRS this coming Sunday by participating in what’s being called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” Under the Johnson Amendment, tax-exempt organizations, including churches, are not allowed to endorse any candidate running for elective public office. The real issue behind Pulpit Freedom Sunday is whether or not free speech reigns irrefutably over tax-exempt organizations, or should groups such as churches be permitted to make political recommendations to its members? And beyond that, the even larger question is why are churches still classified as tax-exempt? . . . It’s time for the government to stop subsidizing religion and phase out this special privilege of tax-exemptions to churches. Pastors and church leaders need to make a choice: feel free to talk politics all they want from the pulpit, but be willing to pay the consequences.
Maureen McDermott Gill at Journal Tribune: This Sunday, Oct. 7, is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” a nationwide event sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization providing legal services to churches and individuals who want “greater religious freedom,” as they say. What these churches really want, however, is the unbridled freedom to influence American politics. Unlike the rest of us, who are allowed to express opinions about American politics, work for certain candidates, and attempt to influence others to our way of thinking, churches want to do it without making any monetary contributions to actually run the government that protects their freedoms. Pursuant to the IRS, churches are exempted from taxation – provided they stay the hell out of politics. The churches don’t like that . . . As far as I’m concerned, the clergy of any denomination can say whatever they want, but I don’t want to subsidize them to do so.
More than 1,000 pastors to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday – Oct. 7th | Erik Stanley on the Mike Gallagher Show
One News Now: “It’s outrageous for pastors and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for applying biblical teaching to all areas of life, including candidates and elections,” Stanley contends. “The real question is who should decide the content of sermons: pastors or the IRS?”
One News Now: The purpose is to make sure the pastor, not the IRS, decides what is said from the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Erik Stanley tells OneNewsNow that this more of a problem than people realize. “A lot of people may not realize it, but since 1954, the IRS has inserted itself into the process of what is said from the pulpit and has punished and threatened to punish churches for something the pastor says that may issue support or opposition for one candidate or another,” he explains.
LifeNews: “Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS,” said Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley of ADF. “It’s outrageous for pastors and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for applying biblical teachings to all areas of life, including candidates and elections. The question is, ‘Who should decide the content of sermons: pastors or the IRS?’” “No government-recognized status can be conditioned upon the surrender of a constitutionally protected right,” Stanley explained. “No one would suggest a pastor give up his church’s tax-exempt status if he wants to keep his constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure or cruel and unusual punishment. Likewise, no one should be asking him to give up his church’s tax-exempt status to be able to keep his constitutionally protected right to free speech.”
Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Admittedly, it can be confusing for churches and pastors to know what is allowed during an election season. Much of this confusion stems from the vagueness of the tax code and the accompanying IRS regulations. To help, Alliance Defending Freedom has created many resources for you to utilize this election season.
The number of pastors registered to participate in Alliance Defending Freedom’s fifth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday has exceeded 1,000, nearly doubling last year’s participation. Registration continues until Oct. 7, so the number continues to rise.
The New American: A small army of pastors across America is planning to defy the IRS rules against politics in the pulpit by participating in what they are calling “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” October 7. The event, which is being organized by Alliance Defending Freedom, will target the 1954 IRS statute, called the Johnson Amendment, that prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from endorsing candidates for office. “The purpose is to make sure that the pastor, and not the IRS, decides what is said from the pulpit,” said Erik Stanley, an ADF spokesman. “It is a head-on constitutional challenge.”
Nathan Cherry at Engage Family Minute (links to audio): It’s undebatable that America has benefited greatly from the influence of pastors over the years. But, are today’s pulpits free? Attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom don’t think so and they are using Pulpit Freedom Sunday as a way to protect not only the proper role of the church in our society, but also your right to hear and speak the truth of the Gospel. On Today’s episode of Engaging the Issues, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom explains what pastors can do to protect religious freedom and why they should.
Should pastors in the pulpit have to fear crossing government lines? | Erik Stanley and Barry Arrington on Crosswalk KRKS FM with Gino Geraci
Pulpit Freedom Sunday – Oct. 7th | Jim Garlow, Erik Stanley, and Barry Lynn on Air Talk KPCC 89.3 S. Cal. Public Radio
Pastor Jim Garlow, Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom, and Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State appeared on Air Talk KPCC 89.3 Southern Cal. Public Radio to discuss Pulpit Freedom Sunday. | MP3 audio 16:04 mins
Letter to the Ventura Star: Oct. 7 is Pulpit Freedom Sunday. This is the day, each year, that an organization by the name of “Alliance Defending Freedom” encourages pastors to freely advise, give opinions and say all that they choose to say about candidates in all elections.
WSET ABC 13 (includes video): The group Alliance Defending Freedom says it’s the pastor’s job, not the IRS, to determine what is said from the pulpit. The group is also asking pastors to send their sermons to the IRS, in hopes a court battle ensues.
IRS uses muddy waters to tiptoe around Constitutional questions | Kevin Theriot on KDAZ 730 AM with Birga and Dan
Christian Institute (includes video): Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom said: “It’s very ironic that a group with ‘separation of church and state’ in its name is arguing for more governmental monitoring and control of churches. “That’s not the separation of church and state. These letters are nothing more than intimidation tactics.
FayObserver.com: The group, Alliance Defending Freedom, hopes that the bold move will prompt the IRS to enforce a 1954 tax code amendment that prohibits tax-exempt organizations such as churches from making political endorsements. The group believes the law violates the First Amendment.
Opposing Views: Pulpit Freedom Sunday was organized by the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom. Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the group, told FoxNews.com: “The purpose is to make sure that the pastor, and not the IRS, decides what is said from the pulpit. It is a head-on constitutional challenge.”
Christian Post: “The purpose is to make sure that the pastor — and not the IRS — decides what is said from the pulpit…It is a head-on constitutional challenge,” Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the ADF, told FoxNews.com.
Pulpit Freedom Sunday – October 7th | Kevin Theriot on “Christ and the City” with Christopher Brooks
Nathan Cherry at the Engage Family Blog: On October 7th the Alliance Defending Freedom will host Pulpit Freedom Sunday . . . Erik Stanley, legal counsel with ADF said: “The purpose is to make sure that the pastor — and not the IRS — decides what is said from the pulpit. It is a head-on constitutional challenge…We’re hoping the IRS will respond by doing what they have threatened. We have to wait for it to be applied to a particular church or pastor so that we can challenge it in court. We don’t think it’s going to take long for a judge to strike this down as unconstitutional.”
Pastors Will Unite Against IRS To Deliver ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ Political Sermons (poll) | The Blaze
The Blaze (several videos embedded): In an effort to combat what many preachers believe to be a free-speech violation, they will engage in The Alliance Defending Freedom’s (ADF) Pulpit Freedom Sunday initiative. A description of the event explains, in detail, why the event was launched and what it intends to accomplish . . . “The purpose is to make sure that the pastor — and not the IRS — decides what is said from the pulpit,” Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for ADF, said in an interview with Fox News. “It is a head-on constitutional challenge.” [more]
Daily Caller: n the classic movie “The Sting,” Paul Newman explains to Robert Redford that in the most sophisticated swindles, the victim never even figures out he’s been conned. Well, America’s churches got swindled big time in 1954. They lost their freedom of speech and a significant part of their freedom of religion . . . Now a group of lawyers, The Alliance Defending Freedom, has organized a campaign to force a test case. For the last four years, pastors across America have banded together on Pulpit Freedom Sunday to speak out on elections one Sunday a year, and send their sermons to the IRS. Last year 539 pastors participated and the IRS blinked once again. This year’s PFS will be October 7. Every Pastor who believes his or her pulpit should be free from government censorship should sign up and participate at PulpitFreedom.org.
Fox News (video): More than 1,000 pastors are planning to challenge the IRS next month by deliberately preaching politics ahead of the presidential election despite a federal ban on endorsements from the pulpit . . . “The purpose is to make sure that the pastor — and not the IRS — decides what is said from the pulpit,” Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the group, told FoxNews.com. “It is a head-on constitutional challenge.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State: Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a ministry in Ridgway, Colo., that printed and mailed a magazine to state residents asking them to vote for Republican candidates. The publication was produced by Ridgway Christian Center, an affiliate of Praise Him Ministries . . . The article cites material produced by the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund), an Arizona-based organization that every year sponsors an event called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” during which pastors are urged to openly violate the law by endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit. . . . In its complaint to the IRS, Americans United asserted that Ridgway Christian Center is knowingly violating the law.
One News Now: Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom says Americans United is trying to frighten churches into silence about elections and “moral and biblical issues confronting the candidates.” “But the reality is that no pastor should ever fear the IRS or Americans United for that matter when they stand in their pulpit to preach biblical truth,” Stanley asserts. “That’s our message, and … no church or pastor should be afraid of these letters that are being sent out by Americans United.”
Christian Post: “People in America are allowed to debate these issues except for pastors from the pulpit,” said Erik W. Stanley, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, on Family Talk last week. “The pastors of America, your voices need to be heard on these vital issues. It’s unjust, it’s unconstitutional that you’ve been censored and taken out of the public debate every time an election season rolls around.
Nathan A. Cherry at Engage Family Minute: My desire is to leave behind a country my kids and grand-kids can be proud of. To that end I am committed to standing against people and policies that would strip those rights. I find it confusing, to say the least, when pastors have no desire or interest in speaking on issues that are pertinent to the lives of every person in their congregation. These issues are biblical, moral issues that have been hijacked by society and called “political” in order to silence pastors, Christians, and remove the influence for biblical positions they would encourage . . . If you need more encouragement check out “Five Reasons Your Participation is Vital” by the Alliance Defending Freedom. . . . Pulpit Freedom Sunday is Oct 7th this year. Consider Pastor Baird’s testimony and what you can do to take part.
Erik Stanley at Speak Up Movement Blog: Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently announced that it sent over 60,000 letters to churches across the country, warning them from becoming involved in “partisan politicking” during this election season.
Dumb and Silent: Led like to sheep to the slaughter | Erik Stanley and Pastor Jim Garlow on James Dobson’s Family Talk
Americans United Asks IRS To Investigate El Paso Church That Urged Parishioners To Vote Against Obama
eNews Park Forest: Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate an El Paso Catholic church that called for the defeat of President Barack Obama.
El Paso Times: St. Raphael Catholic Church on the city’s East Side might have violated an Internal Revenue Service rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from taking sides when it comes to candidates seeking political office in its Aug. 5 bulletin. “I am asking all of you to go to the polls and be united in replacing our present president with a president that will respect the Catholic Church in this country,” the end of the entry in the bulletin says. “Please pass this on to all of your Catholic friends.”
Pastor Kevin Baird at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: I have been a pastor for over 28 years, and for many of those years of ministry I preached under a misconception that many (if not most) pastors live under, as well. It’s the misconception the IRS perpetuates through the Johnson Amendment to the 501 (c)(3) code that restricts our rights as pastors to apply the Bible to what might be deemed “political.” For year, I avoided many topics from the pulpit because I mistakenly thought that if I broached that topic I could jeopardize the church’s tax-exempt status. There was always this subtle “fear” that the IRS would sweep in and impose some kind of monstrous repercussion . . .
Speak Up Movement Church Blog: Pulpit Freedom Sunday is October 7, 2012. In case you or others you may know are undecided about participating, let me give you five very good reasons why your participation is so important. After considering these reasons, the next step is to go towww.pulpitfreedom.organd sign up.
Kelly Boggs at the Baptist Message Online (subscription): On Sunday, October 7, pastors across the United States have indicated they will participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, when they plan to endorse or oppose political candidates from their pulpits during worship services. The aforementioned coordinated effort was started in 2008 by Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) and is designed to call attention to and also violate an IRS statute that forbids pastors from stumping for candidates from their pulpits.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State seeks IRS investigation of the MO Baptist Convention
AU: Americans United for Separation of Church and State today filed a complaint with the IRSabout the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) for intervening in the Missouri Republican primary on behalf of candidates for state and federal offices.
Preaching politics from the pulpit: Liberty Counsel to send 100,000 “Silence Is Not An Option” packets to pastors
GodDiscussion.com (includes video): Preaching politics from the pulpit is becoming an important focus of religious right groups lately. Last month, Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) complained that pastors were forced to live in a climate of “fear and intimidation” because of complaints of IRS tax code violations by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and other organizations. Alliance Defending Freedom encourages pastors to preach politics on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” each October.
Robert John Aruajo at Mirror Of Justice Blog: The July 30th issue of America Magazine will have an article entitled “Politics and the Pulpit—Are some bishops putting the church’s tax exempt status at risk?” written by Nicholas Carfardi a law professor and former dean at Duquesne University School of Law who is also an acquaintance, friend, and colleague of many of us at the Mirror of Justice. Unfortunately, one needs a subscription to read the Nick’s article online, but there is one link [HERE] that provides more information about the views expressed in his article. Today I write to convey my disagreement with Nick and to explain why I think he is wrong in criticizing two bishops who have exercised their teaching office on public policy issues with which Nick and others probably hold opinions different from the bishops.
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 . . .
Nathan A. Cherry at Engage Family Minute (7/5): It’s all part of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a day of speaking up to defy unconstitutional speech limitations the IRS and government try to bully pastor’s with in order to keep them silent (ironic for a group that wants to pass “anti-bullying” legislation) . . . For now, check out www.speakupmovement.org/church for more information on Pulpit Freedom Sunday.
CNSNews (includes video): “Because ultimately, these are not just political issues – they are moral issues,” she said. “They’re issues that have to do with human dignity and human potential, and the future we want for our kids and our grandkids.”
The Church Report: Even so, Garlow not only intends to break the rules, he also plans to spend the next four months recruiting other pastors to do the same as part of Pulpit Freedom Sunday. On that day each year since 2008, ministers intentionally try to provoke the IRS. Some even send DVD recordings of their sermons to the agency.
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.
WTAM.com (includes video): Attorney General Eric Holder, the IRS, and the liberal lawyers at the ACLU will brief several hundred pastors in the African American community on how to participate in the presidential election
Charlotte Observer: Americans United asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Providence Road Baptist Church, whose pastor, Charles Worley, on May 13 delivered a sermon urging the congregation to vote against President Barack Obama. | AU press release and letter to the IRS | Freedom of Religion Foundation press release and letter
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.”
NonProfit Quarterly: With little fanfare, the [I]New York Times[/I] hosted an online debate among five thoughtful people (actually six, but two wrote as a team) addressing the question, “Should churches get tax breaks?” That is, in part, should institutions of religious worship continue to be eligible for charitable tax-exempt status? In summary, here are the perspectives of the participants . . .
AU: Kentucky church violated federal law when its pastor demanded the ouster of President Barack Obama during church services, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the Internal Revenue Service today. During a May 13 service, Pastor Ronnie Spriggs of Hager Hill Freewill Baptist Church in Hager Hill, Ky., demanded that Obama be voted out of office for supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Acton Institute Power Blog: “The New York Times’ “Room for Debate” feature highlights religious freedom this week by asking the question: “Should Churches Get Tax Breaks?” The contributors, who span the continuum of opinions on the issue, include Susan Jacoby, Christopher L. Eisgruber and Lawrence Sager, Winnie Varghese, Dan Barker, and Mark Rienzi.”
Thankfully a commenter, Roger McKinney, makes two of the most critical points: Now socialists want us to believe that if the state doesn’t take your money, it is subsidizing your behavior . . . The original argument for tax free status of churches was that they church is a sovereign in its sphere and one sovereign does not tax another . . .
Erik Stanley at the
Speak Up Movement Church Blog: How deep are your religious convictions? Are religious beliefs merely a colorful veneer decorating the exterior of an individual’s life, or are they more akin to a rudder guiding the course and direction of the whole person? Questions such as these might be ones that we ask ourselves individually as we wrestle with the role of faith in our own lives. But they are also being debated at a societal level. And the worldview of government officials specifically on these questions affects their willingness to either protect religious freedom or to disregard it.
Kelly O’Connell at Canada Free Press: But today, American Believers languish in a ghetto assembled for anyone suggesting religion should influence public policy. Yet, as our currency reveals, previously such influences were assumed. If our forebears were under the same secularist strictures seen today, the early West would have never escaped mediocrity . . . There are federal sanctions for American pastors preaching on political issues. The Alliance Defense Fund describes IRS rule against political preaching . . . The Alliance Defense Fund is calling for a Pulpit Freedom Sunday where pastors talk specifically about political issues, in rejection of IRS rules. Writes the Christian Science Monitor . . . Ironically, ADF reports no church has ever lost its tax exempt status over the rule, and yet hundreds of thousands of pastors are cowed into silence every week by such fears . . .
Erik Stanley at the Speak Up Movement Church Blog: A bill was recently introduced in the House of Representatives to repeal the portion of the Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) popularly referred to as the Johnson Amendment. The bill is H.R. 3600
FRC Washington Update: Lynn and his friends make that claim repeatedly, but that doesn’t make it accurate. ADF has created an entire website called “Speak Up” to dispel myths like this one. There, you can find all sorts of rich information about the rights of churches and pastors to voice their cultural concerns. One document in particular, “The Dos and Don’ts of Political Activity for Pastors” is a great resource for understanding the boundaries of political engagement. Check them all out at SpeakUpMovement.org/Church.
Religion Clause Blog: Americans United announced yesterday that it has filed a formal complaint (full text) with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Illinois . . . Bishop Daniel R. Jenky (later reprinted in The Catholic Post) in which Jenky compares President Obama’s attitude toward churches with those of Hitler and Stalin . . .
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.
Acton Institute Power Blog (includes video): Eric Metaxas, author of the recently published biography Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, sat down with the Alliance Defense Fund to speak on the role of the church in public policy and how Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s example is especially relevant today.
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.”
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: 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
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.”
Barry Lynn at Opposing Views: Nothing I heard in the news reports about this incident indicates that Jarrett told people how to vote. Yes, she praised Obama and criticized the GOP. But pastors laud or blast politicians all of the time. Unless they take the additional step of advising congregants how they ought to vote or engage in some other action (distributing candidate literature in church, endorsing a candidate on the church website, donating church funds to a candidate), they’re not likely to attract IRS scrutiny.
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 . . .