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Good for them: More than a thousand pastors have resolved to defy the IRS and preach politics from the pulpit before the election.
“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.” Stanley said pastors attending the Oct. 7 “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” will “preach sermons that will talk about the candidates running for office” and then “make a specific recommendation.” The sermons will be recorded and sent to the IRS.
“We’re hoping the IRS will respond by doing what they have threatened,” he said. “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.”
First of all, the IRS has always enforced this oppressive regulation very selectively. Black churches for example have been allowed to preach Democratic Party politics for decades, without any threats from the IRS.
Second, the regulation really does make no sense. What right does the IRS have deny these religious leaders the freedom to participate in the political debate? Free speech is free speech. To threaten their tax status just because they express their opinions for or against a candidate seems quite oppressive, the kind of thing petty dictators do when they want to shut their opponents up.
In fact, when you think about it, the regulation’s basic consequence was to shut these religious leaders up. Much like the “equal time” regulation that was used for decades to shut up conservative thought on the radio and television airwaves, this IRS regulation has effectively banned religion from the political process. Our Constitution might forbid Congress from setting up an official religion, but it does not forbid people of religion from using their moral teachings to try to influence elections. As I say, free speech is free speech. They are citizens like everyone else, and have the right to express their ideas and to try to persuade people. And in a free society, no one is obliged to listen to them or be convinced by them,