"Pulpit Freedom Sunday" Seeks to Clarify Freedom of Speech in Religion
Sun, 09/26/2010 - 7:45am
Pastors participating in...“Pulpit Freedom Sunday” will preach from their pulpits Sept. 28 about the moral qualifications of candidates seeking political office. The pastors will exercise their First Amendment right to preach on the subject, despite federal tax regulations that prohibit intervening or participating in a political campaign…“If you have a concern about pastors speaking about electoral candidates from the pulpit, ask yourself this: should the church decide that question, or should the IRS?”
The purpose…is to challenge IRS rules, adopted in 1954 at the request of then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson, that prohibit any speech from a church pulpit favoring or opposing a political candidate. Johnson found himself bearing the brunt of critical comments from Christian pastors…However, the ADF says that rule unconstitutionally restricts a pastor's freedom of speech…The ministers hope to provoke a court case, so they can have the regulation overturned.
Then they'll package up recordings or transcripts of their sermons and send them to the IRS, with a dare to the government agency to come after them for their comments.Ministers…have done…that for the last two years. But of all the direct violations of the IRS ban on ministers addressing politics from their pulpits, only one investigation was begun, and it was dropped almost immediately…