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Fundies plan to test ban on political endorsements from the pulpit

By pams
Monday, September 8, 2008 18:00 EDT
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Daddy D-founded Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting right-wing pastors to test the IRS ban on making political endorsements from the pulpit, an act that can result in the removal of a church’s non-profit status. The “Pulpit Initiative” is being launched as desperation mounts in the social conservative movement — its leaders know they are losing the culture wars — and they are looking for ways to ensure that low-information voters out in the pews are guided into voting “correctly.” (WaPo):

Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.

The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

“For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church,” ADF attorney Erik Stanley said. “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.”

Yet an opposing collection of Christian and Jewish clergy will petition the IRS today to stop the protest before it starts, calling the ADF’s “Pulpit Initiative” an assault on the rule of law and the separation of church and state.

Backed by three former top IRS officials, the group also wants the IRS to determine whether the nonprofit ADF is risking its own tax-exempt status by organizing an “inappropriate, unethical and illegal” series of political endorsements.

This is happened in past elections, with rampant charges of violations of the IRS rules on the matter. This time the ADF is purposely and publicly challenging the laws, in an attempt to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds.

After all, the right knows how important this election is — the future of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance. So far there are three dozen church leaders in more than 20 states who plan to deliver bluntly political sermons naming specific candidates and issues and recommend how people should vote.

And why do these churches continue to believe they deserve to receive a tax exemption?

 
 
 
 
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