Tax-Exempt Churches Getting Greedy

As part of their tax-exempt status under IRS regulation, churches are prohibited from endorsing political candidates. A number of justifications present themselves on behalf of this IRS regulation: the undue influence of religious organizations on the political process, the fear that these tax-exempt and difficulty-to-regulate organizations become financial vehicles for political candidates, and the fact that these organizations enjoy a privilege few organizations as large and numerous do: tax exempt status. Some churches, however, disagree:

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.”

Here’s the thing about the last sentence by the ADF attorney: it’s false. There’s even this rule we have- commonly called the establishment clause- that says so. Religion both benefits (free-exercise clause) and is hurt by (establishment clause) the provisions of the First Amendment. If it intends on wrapping itself in the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, it must also acknowledge that there is a provision of the Amendment that deals uniquely with religious organizations. Just as the free-exercise sought to stop unnecessary government involvment from stifling religious expression, the establishment clause attempts to prevent unnecessary religious involvment from poisoning politics. It works both ways. So before  ADF cries foul about its sorry situation, it should be mindful of the implications of its fight against the First Amendment. Maybe they’ll pay taxes next year.

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4 responses to “Tax-Exempt Churches Getting Greedy

  1. Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power [at all] against me, except it were given thee from above.

    For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore [ye] must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

    Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

    No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

    My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.

  2. polisciafterparty

    ^^^^^^

    Why we have the Establishment Clause. Whew.

    – Legal Eagle

  3. polisciafterparty

    wait a minute…wtf just happened 2 posts above me??

    i say let these priests go about and endorse a political party…then tax their collective asses off…theres a quick way to put a dent in that national deficit…

    -trader

  4. polisciafterparty

    That’s the thing. They can have it one way or the other. They want to have their cake and eat it too- officially influencing politics while refusing to pay for the very government programs they put forward. Interesting.

    – Legal Eagle

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