Endorsed by God: Religious Right Defies IRS on Church Endorsements

Dozens of conservative pastors are defying the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ban on ministers using their pulpits to endorse political candidates. Organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, the ministers are effectively daring the IRS to take away their tax-exempt status. The effort is an obvious set-up for litigation, though they may put conservatives like Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito in a tough position. ADF advocates insist that the ADF’s “Pulpit Initiative” is to intended to show that the “proper role” of pastors is to try to direct the voting of the faithful.

ADF attorney Erik Stanley says that “For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church. . . . It is the job of the pastors of America to debate the proper role of church in society. It’s not for the government to mandate the role of church in society.”

This is clearly the view of other nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan where clergy dominate politics and mete out their own sectarian forms of government. Now, the religious right wants to be exempted from taxes while using those tax exempt dollars to expand a church-based political movement.

The ADF was founded in 1994 by Christian conservatives including James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family and William R. Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. It is viewed as an alternative to the ACLU in pushing a conservative agenda.

It would be an interesting test for Roberts and Alito, who tend to be extremely pro-government except in religion cases and a couple of other areas. Alito particularly assembled a record of virtually blind support for governmental claims in criminal, environmental, and other areas. Now, he would be asked to extend the same extreme deference to the IRS.

For the full story, click here.

116 thoughts on “Endorsed by God: Religious Right Defies IRS on Church Endorsements”

  1. Just asking mind you.

    If so then please accept my apologies.

    😐

    It certainly is a rich and fascinating culture.

  2. ignoble
    1, September 15, 2008 at 2:56 am

    And by the way your little joke might be taken as a little racist

    Only if you’re George W Bush, who everyone knows it is mocking. Otherwise this is just another one of your lies trying to invent intent or content that was never there.

    Of course, I guess you might be offended by that if you’re an inbred.

    😐

    Are you an inbred?

  3. Or more technically, a Constitutional Republic.

    And whatever you’d like to call it, you still need to keep your church out of it.

    When you’re ready to address the inherint seperation of church and state, I’ll be listening. Until then, you can stop inventing arguments for me.

  4. mnoble
    1, September 14, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    What we actually have is a republic not a democracy

    No Cornwallace, its a DEMOCRACY.

    A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC.

    If you knew anything about this country, or democracy for that matter, you’d know that;

    A. They overlap, Democracies and Republics

    B. You don’t bring your freaking church into one.

  5. And when you can step up and explain why you call someone honoring the seperation of church and state “obsessed” and when you can ADDRESS the seperation of church and state, let me know.

    In the meantime you can stop lying by way of inventing positions for me, attributing them to me, and then proceeding to debate them as if you were actually debating something I said.

    A. I never called the First Ammendment a founding principle of our country.

    B. I never called 501c or the Tax code, a founding principle of our country.

    C. If you actually knew something about history, you’d know about how this country was formed and the role of seperation of church and state.

    If you want your church mingled with your government I suggest moving to Iran, or perhaps Pakistan. You’ll be much happier there slick.

  6. I’m familiar enough with 501c, you were talking about an amendment and claiming I was calling that amendment a founding principle of our democracy.

    You said “the amendment in question” which since I am talking about the seperation of church and state, the amendment you went on to quote, I assumed you meant the 1st Amendment.

    So now I see instead what you were trying to do, was create yet ANOTHER straw argument by claiming that I was claiming that 501c and religious exemption would constitute a founding principle of our democracy. So you’re lying again.

  7. Cro Magnum Man –
    Try actually reading the news article Mr. Turley has so kindly linked to above. Quote from the article in question: Such endorsements are prohibited by a 1954 amendment to the Internal Revenue Code that says nonprofit, tax-exempt entities may not “participate in, or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.”

    The 1954 amendment is going to be challenged as violating the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    You know it really helps if you actually read and understand what is being discussed.

    And by the way your little joke might be taken as a little racist.

  8. And by the way, before I’d accuse anyone of looking “childish” for simply making a little joke, I’d make sure I actually knew something about the straw argument I was attempting to manufacture.

    1954, lol.

    😀

    Heck, even a 4th graders smarter’n that.

  9. When you’re done purchasing a new encylopedia, you might want to look up early Americans and events like Thomas Jefferson, William Penn, the Flushing Remonstrance, and the histories of other founding fathers and the drive to seperate Church and State, well before the writing of the first Amendment.

    Because at the end of the day, your statement about “the amendment in question” is just another in a series of straw arguments.

    I never, ever said my argument was based on the 1st Amendments seperation of church and state. In fact I never even mentioned it.

    You, in your obvious ignorance of early American history just assumed that one in a myriad of events, documents, speeches and statements, as well as local actions and legislations, that comprise the “founding principle” of seperation of church and state.

    In your pitiful comprehension of the founding of this country you manufacture a weak, monotone position for me, then assign it to me, and proceed to debate it.

    I suggest you open a history book and learn a little about this country before trying to push your simple minded doctrine of mingling church and state.

    Because our founding fathers, were way ahead of you, centuries ago.

  10. mnoble
    1, September 14, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    As the amendment in question dates only to 1954 it can hardly be considered a founding principle of this country

    So I was right, you are from outside of the US?

    Because the 1st Amendment in the United States Constitution, was ratified in 1751.

    😐

    A few years earlier than your countries Amendment.

  11. As the amendment in question dates only to 1954 it can hardly be considered a founding principle of this country.
    What I am addressing is the amendment to the Internal Revenue Code in question while you seem to be ranting in general about your obsession with the “separation of church and state” and your unfounded belief that I would like a theocracy.

    The constitution states in the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,…” And what will most likely be argued in court by real lawyers is that by granting some churches tax exemption and others not based on their exercise of free speech the government has violated the first amendment in two ways.

    And while you say you do not hate churches and church goers you certainly at least do not trust them to exercise judgement as good as you think yours is.

    P.S. What we actually have is a republic not a democracy. Additionally your name calling, “furriners”, makes you appear childish.

  12. Cro Magnum Man
    1, September 14, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    And for someone who proclaims democracy you seem very afraid of what the people may freely choose to do

    Another empty claim. Just a general statement accusing me of “being afraid” without any actual specific rebuke of the issue.

    So lets talk about what YOU seem to be “afraid” of.

    A. You choose to avoid the fact that privileges are based on compliance with guidelines, and that tax exemption is a privilege with guidelines.

    B. You choose to avoid even mentioning the long held standing on seperation of church and state, a founding principle of this country.

    C. You seem oblivious of the historical disasters with regards to societies whose governments were mingled with religion. You seem to have forgotten that those who attacked us were countries where religion was allowed to mingle with affairs of state. And worse, you seem to have amnesia as to the last 7 and a half years where our country fell under the rule of a government that mingled religious faith with affairs of state, resulting in disasters like the hiring of underqualified high level government personnel, the US Attorney Firing Scandals, etc.

    So given the above, am I afraid of America moving further away from the core American principle of seperation of church and state?

    You bet.

    Am I afraid of America electing another President and Vice President based on religious beliefs and in turn, that President staffing the highest levels of government with unqualified bumpkins simply because they go to the same church?

    Absolutely.

    But given A, B and C above, it appears you are likewise afraid. Afraid of the facts, afraid of acknowledging history, and afraid of our time honored core principle of the seperation of church and state.

  13. mnoble
    1, September 14, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Again your arguments completely miss the point. Your appearent extreme hatred of churches and church goers seems to blind you.

    lol, I tell you theres enough strawmen in this room sometimes to form a small army.

    Newsflash mnoble.

    I do not hate churches and I do not hate church goers so you can take back your straw men and stick to the facts.

  14. Again your arguments completely miss the point. Your appearent extreme hatred of churches and church goers seems to blind you. Ironically you express a religious hatred of religion.

    If the 1954 amendment were overturned we would return to the condition existing in 1953 in regards this issue. There was no theocracy nor any chance of one in 1953, neither would there be today.

    And for someone who proclaims democracy you seem very afraid of what the people may freely choose to do.

  15. But please feel free to elaborate as to why in your country, the concept of seperation of Church and State, is considered a bad thing.

    😐

    I’m always eager to learn about other peoples cultures.

  16. mnoble
    1, September 13, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    The elitist idea that the government should be awarding “privileges” based on “compliance” with the wishes of that elite is counterproductive to the cause of liberty

    The “cause” of liberty here in America, includes the seperation of Church and State.

    Apparenlty you are not American, otherwise you’d be familiar with this concept.

    😐

    No worries, I talk to furriners too, so allow me to help.

    In this country, still smarting from a thousand years of tryannical persecution by the mother Church at England, our founding fathers decided that religion should keep its faithfilled mitts out of the affairs of government.

    Thus, America became a Democracy, instead of a THEOCRACY.

    You however apparently live in a Theocracy, like Iran or something.

    In these govts, religious belief is mingled with the affairs of state, and as we see from the September 11th attacks, they produce horrific results.

    Thus, if you wish to move here to America, you will be required to understand the simply concept, of the seperation of Church and State.

    Because we believe in Democracy.

    Not Theocracy.

  17. mnoble
    1, September 13, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    My position does not rely on the notion that tax exemption is a right. Rather my position is that the elitists running the government should not treat people differently based on how they exercise their right to free speech.

    It most certainly does.

    In order for the govt to be restricting their freedom of speech they would have to be penalizing them in some way.

    They are not.

    Tax exemption is a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT.

    If they wish to APPLY for it, then they will have to comply with the rules and the rules are based on the seperation of Church and State.

  18. mnoble: “What you should fear are the elitists running an increasingly tyrannical government.”

    So, a pastor talks to God and God tells him to endorse McCain from the pulpit. That is, the pastor has been commanded to say, “I have talked to God, and God wants us all to vote for John McCain.”

    How is this pastor not elitist?

    Now let’s fast-forward to a world in which this pastor becomes President of the United States and in which this pastor’s like-minded friends form a majority of the Supreme Court. Over a short period of time, the separation of church and state is removed from the Constitution and many federal and state laws are enacted which implement a certain set of Christian values — fundamentalist ones, which are theologically and culturally at odds with other sets of Christian values, not to mention being at odds with non-Christian values. Ultimately, the Constitution is amended to require all federal and state laws to conform with fundamentalist Christian values. The United States is then not any kind of democracy, but a theocracy.

    How is such a government not tyrannical?

    Finally, to return to the present, note that the government in no way curtails the pastor’s freedom of speech in a way that any other person’s freedom of speech is not curtailed. The government does require certain kinds of tax-exempt charities (the ones that are exempt under 501(c)(3)) to refrain from electioneering, which is very reasonable: You’re not a charitable organization if you’re endorsing candidates, so you can’t be tax exempt as a charitable organization if you’re endorsing candidates.

    Pastors who wish to endorse a candidate from the pulpit are in no kind of quandary. They simply need to withdraw their 501(c)(3) tax exemption and proceed to endorse away.

  19. Cro Magnum Man-

    My position does not rely on the notion that tax exemption is a right. Rather my position is that the elitists running the government should not treat people differently based on how they exercise their right to free speech.
    The elitist idea that the government should be awarding “privileges” based on “compliance” with the wishes of that elite is counterproductive to the cause of liberty.
    Perhaps you should research the origin of the 1954 amendment in question, you may find it as illuminating as I did.

    Jill-
    I believe you have nothing to fear from the free and unabridged exercise of free speech. What you should fear are the elitists running an increasingly tyrannical government.

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