Fundie pastors thumb nose at tax-exemption laws to endorse from the pulpit
Here we go. These bible-beaters are planning to test the boundaries of their tax-exempt status. They feel they are entitled to make political endorsements directly to the sheeple in the pews — this is understandable because these “Christian” leaders are seeing power slipping from their grasp and they believe the government will let flagrant endorsements slide.
The Alliance Defense Fund — a legal outfit launched by James Dobson and other prominent conservatives in the mid-1990s — has recruited 50 pastors to deliver sermons in September that will include direct endorsements of political candidates. Although churches and other religious groups, like all not-for-profits, are required by law to eschew partisanship in exchange for their tax-exempt status, ADF’S Pulpit Initiative advances a premise yet to be fully tested in the courts: that religious leaders speaking from the pulpit should benefit from special speech protections.
“The only thing that should be dictating to pastors what they can and cannot say is the Bible, not the Internal Revenue Service,” said Gus Booth, a Minnesota pastor who has endorsed Republican Senator John McCain from his pulpit. The idea that church and politics don’t mix, he told the Forward, “hasn’t actually always been that way.”
…The new ADF initiative comes in response to the IRS’s increased focus on ferreting out not-for-profit violators. It is an attempt, both backers and opponents say, of using the courts to make a game-changing end-run around the agency, which issued a set of detailed guidelines in 2004, including one that precludes all clergy from endorsing from the pulpit.
…If a case involving an intransigent pastor does find its way to federal court, ADF will likely pursue a number of legal arguments. Erik Stanley, ADF’s senior legal counsel, said it would argue that the tax-exempt status of religious groups “is a right, not just a privilege” and that religious leaders enjoy a number of special protections under the First Amendment.
Jeebus – since when is tax-exemption a right? These people are insane.
Look at what we’re already seeing occur in South Carolina with those “I Believe” license plates. Church-state separation is clearly going to be tested by the moralists who want to be in your bedroom and into your wombs with government subsidization, otherwise they will claim discrimination.