From CNN’s Belief Blog:
Garlow’s sermon was part of a wider effort by the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization that since 2008 has hosted Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a day when they encourage and promise to protect pastors who willfully violate the Johnson Amendment and endorse from the pulpit.
The movement is growing. While it started with 33 churches in 2008, 539 churches participated in 2011.
“We basically see Pulpit Freedom Sunday as a means of protecting a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing government censorship in any way,” said Erik Stanley, ADF’s senior legal counsel and organizer of Pulpit Freedom Sunday.
Because making your tax-free status contingent on you not interfering in politics is so onerous as to amount to censorship. Right. More people who want to benefit from the social contract of participatory democracy without having to actually pay in to it. They’re the real parasites on society, you know — the people who use loopholes to avoid paying in to benefit from the same services as everyone else.
And so far, the effort has received little to no response from the IRS. Though the agency did not respond to CNN’s request for specific numbers, according to Stanley, the majority of the messages go unnoticed and only a handful of pastors receive letters.
So, the law exists to keep non-profit orgs who receive federal grants and who are not taxed by the government from endorsing specific political parties. The religious organizations engaged in endorsing politicians from the pulpit want more rights to continue doing so.
I say give it to them.
But close that loophole first, in the most final and unequivocal way possible — make it so no religious institution is tax-exempt. There’s no reason any organization that exists today only to shape people’s minds toward a specific political party’s power (and admit it — godliness and conservatism are highly correlated) should be untaxable. The only argument you could ever make is that these religious organizations do charitable works. Make it so they cannot. Make it so they have to form a separate charitable arm and that the money can only ever flow in one direction from the earnings of the church, after tax, to the charity directly.
If no church is tax-exempt, then there’s no loophole and no need to look like the bad guy when the IRS decides to actually enforce the amendments that already exist that are being flouted so grievously. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.