(RNS) The Internal Revenue Service said it will monitor churches and other houses of worship for electioneering in a settlement reached with an atheist group.

The settlement was reached Friday (July 18) in federal court in Madison, Wis., where the initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist advocacy group that claims 20,000 members nationwide.

The suit alleged the IRS routinely ignored complaints by the FFRF and others about churches promoting political candidates, issues or proposed legislation. As part of their tax-exempt status, churches and other religious groups are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity.

At the time the suit was filed, the IRS maintained it was not ignoring complaints of electioneering, but had failed to hire an official to investigate church politicking, which it had been ordered to do in 2009 as the result of another lawsuit.

Annie Laurie Gaylor is co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Annie Laurie Gaylor is co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. RNS photo courtesy Freedom from Religion Foundation


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“This is a victory, and we’re pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF’s co-president.

However, under the current congressional investigation of the IRS for improperly monitoring conservative groups, there is a moratorium on all IRS investigations. Still, Gaylor said the suit may be revived if the IRS fails to police what she called “rogue political churches” after the moratorium is lifted.

But Rob Boston, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a First Amendment watchdog group, was more reserved.

“If the FFRF has managed to wrench some concessions from the IRS over the issue of church politicking, I think that could be very helpful,” he said. “But the fact is, the IRS has been dragging its feet over this matter for some time. What is taking so long?”

Indeed, in 2009, a federal court ordered the IRS to appoint a “high-ranking official” to investigate complaints of politicking by churches and other tax-exempt organizations. A spokesman for the IRS declined to comment on the settlement, saying the IRS does not comment on litigation.

Without IRS confirmation, it is unclear if anyone has been hired.

Rob Boston is the Director of Communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Rob Boston is the Director of Communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. RNS photo courtesy Americans United for Separation of Church and State

“I see no signs of progress,” Boston continued. “If the IRS has indeed formulated a new rule for church audits and a process that could lead to a crackdown on the blatant forms of church-based politicking that we have seen, that information must, by law, be published in the Federal Register. I hope to see it there soon.”

Of particular concern to FFRF and other First Amendment advocacy organizations is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” a project of Alliance Defending Freedom, which focuses on freedom of religion issues. On Freedom Pulpit Sunday — which was last held in June 2013 with the participation of more than 1,100 churches — pastors are encouraged to advise their congregations on political matters, such as marriage and abortion rights, and even endorse or oppose candidates.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is widely seen as the most litigious of the dozen or so national atheist advocacy groups. It claims to have brought 40 First Amendment lawsuits since 1977 and is currently involved in legal challenges to a Ten Commandments monument, graduation prayers and a Catholic shrine on public land.

KRE/AMB END WINSTON

76 Comments

  1. Wait….what?

    So tax exempt orgs cannot express an opinion on politics? I admit I don’t know the specific details on this one, but I kniw there is probably a thousand faux “religious” 501c3 groups in DC that certainly engage in propagandizing exclusively political issues. Namely the current one, gay marriage.

    Wonder why we don’t go after those groups too, huh atheists?

    • Churches are allowed to participate in political issues but churches are not allowed to endorse political candidates. Learn to read before you post.

      • TheKnowerseeker

        “The suit alleged the IRS routinely ignored complaints by the FFRF and others about churches promoting political candidates, **issues or proposed legislation.**” from the article, third paragraph.

    • Churches cannot have partisan viewpoints. If one candidate speaks the other has to be allowed to also speak and the Church cannot support one candidate over the other. Churches HOWEVER CAN speak out on social issues that are addressed by the Bible FREELY.

      http://ffcoalition.com/legal-dos-and-donts-for-churches-and-pastors

      Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

      • Amendment I

        Amendment I
        CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        There are many reasons why the1954 Johnson amendment violates the Constitution.Here are some of the key reasons why the amendment is unconstitutional:

        The amendment violates the Establishment Clause by
        requiring the government to excessively and pervasively monitor the speech of churches to ensure they are not transgressing the restriction in the amendment.The amendment allows the government to
        determine when truly religious speech becomes impermissibly
        “political.” The government has no business making such decisions.

        The amendment violates the Free Speech Clause because it requires the government to discriminate against speech based solely on the content of the speech. In other words, some speech is allowed, but other speech is not. The Supreme Court has invalidated this type of speech discrimination for decades.

        The amendment also violates the Free Speech Clause by conditioning the receipt of a tax exemption on refraining from certain speech. Put simply, if a church wants the tax exemption, they cannot speak
        on any and all issues addressed by Scripture. This is an
        unconstitutional condition on free speech.

        The amendment violates the Free Exercise Clause because it substantially burdens a church’s exercise of religion. The government does not have a compelling reason to burden religion in this way

        Alliance Defense Fund

    • The distinction is that churches are not supposed to promote partisan agendas–candidates in particular. If you are an advocacy organization for gay rights then that is your stated purpose. When you register for special tax consideration you have to stick to your purpose. Go to church for worship and being a positive force in the community. Period.

  2. About time! The IRS has been as guilty as many, many churches in violating the First Amendment and tax laws by overlooking the bold and daring violations by innumerable churches of that law.

    Much more than talk needs to be done about this gross violation of the Constitution and our tax laws. The churches must be stopped.

    One current example is the bold exemption given to ministers for their residences. Why should any religious officials receive an exemption from any state sales taxes? It is even questionable that the rest of us, all of us, pay for fire and police protection for churches when the churches don’t contribute a cent toward that protection.

    Yet, like the Catholic bishops, they certainly are not timid about trying to be the 5th or 6th estate and control what happens in our state houses and in Washington. A good example of that has been the steady flow of comments flowing from the Catholic bishops about abortion and birth control.

    There is no problem relating to religion in either of those areas. The solution is very simple. If you don’t believe in abortion or birth control, don’t practice it! But mind your own business when it comes to the rights of others to mind their own procreative and sexual practices.

    Catholic clergy can’t keep their zippers zipped yet they have the nerve to go about telling others how to conduct their sex lives!

    • Your dislike of the Catholic Church is obvious. A generalized comment like “Catholic clergy…” proves the point; to cast all in the same light.

      Sex offenders knows no political, geographic, racial or religious / atheist boundaries.

    • Another Anti-Catholic Bigot rants against the church. Your hatred is so apparent.

      Funny thing is, the left uses predominantly African-American and Mainline churches to push its radical leftist agenda all of the time.

      The American Left will not rest until traditional Christianity is silenced in a Stalinist manner.

      • Satsu Dankersen

        Catholicism is the longest tradition of Christianity, and its pretty well-known they actively hid and protected child molester clergy. Pope Francis is merely there to try to lipstick the pig, because people are leaving religion in an accelerating rate in all of the first world.

        Welcome to the 21st century, the century where religion is going to die.

      • Horse manure!
        It is true that African American churches are usually Christian and stand up for Christian principles. Since when is advocating for good considered ‘leftist activity? That perception could only occur in a very twisted and very politicized mind – one convinced that Christians own the franchise on righteous acts.
        If you were paying attention (and maybe just a tad brighter) you’d be quite aware that many important Christians have said – and correctly so – that Christianity has thrived in the US, that we are far and away the most Christian and the most religious of all the developed nations of the world, precisely because of our government principle of separation of church and state. Keeping religion separate from our secular government is important to this principle and a very fair trade off for protecting that principle.
        Have you any idea how many non-Christians pay taxes that support government services to churches or to make up for those missing property taxes?
        Have you the faintest notion what valuable treasures the Catholic Church owns tax free, or how many industries the LDS Church operates tax free?
        If you should ever have a moment of intellectual curiosity about the matter just imagine yourself living in a nation that was predominately Muslim.
        Of all the worst I’ve ever heard expressed from atheists, agnostics and non-believers 99% are very happy living in religious America – if you would only keep your views out of their faces – including out of their government!
        Your problem like many of your religious fellows is your blind faith that you know what’s best for the rest of us.

        • Bigot: : a person who strongly and UNFAIRLY DISLIKES other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who HATES OR REFUSES TO ACCEPT MEMBERS of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)

          Sorry but we see the ‘bigotry’ coming completely from the religious.

          IF it is not bigoted to preach Jesus
          to an unbeliever
          It CANNOT BE bigoted
          to preach anti-Jesus to a believer.

          You Christians really think you own the whole world!

      • An argument ensues–whether people who are progressive can be “authentically” religious–and what constitutes being a radical. The religious right engages in a lot of authentically non-Christian behavior and the uber-traditionalists easily qualify as reactionaries on the political spectrum. It is hard to be an observant member of any church and see your leadership becoming more and more feckless and clueless–and particularly unwilling to strip those who cover up crimes of their titles and offices.

    • I am for this applying to any tax exempt entity doing the same thing, whether they share my views or not.

      Why do you wish to allow church’s to skirt the law? Because they share your beliefs? So you only care about obeying the law and adhering to the constitution when it is something you agree with?

      But then again I don’t identify with any political group. It’s the partisan liberals and conservatives that are okay with breaking the law/violating the constitution as long as it serves their purposes.

    • You really think that your steady and undying faith that you know what is right for the rest of us is A-OK and all the rest is just some supposed, ‘liberal agenda’?
      Such a notion proves that living a life based on faith incapacitates one’s reasoning and cognitive abilities.
      You were born with as much potential as the rest of us and it would not necessarily destroy your testimony to work on restoring those faculties.

  3. CONSERVATIVES, PAY ATTENTION AND GET SCHOOLED.
    THIS IS WHAT TRUE PATRIOTISM
    AND DEFENSE OF THE CONSTITUTION
    LOOKS LIKE!

    BECAUSE THIS IS TREASON:
    “On Freedom Pulpit Sunday — which was last held in June 2013 with the participation of more than 1,100 churches — pastors are encouraged to advise their congregations on political matters…and even endorse or oppose candidates.”

    This is an outrageous, direct and blatant breaking of Constitutional Law.

    Churches may not be used for political purposes!
    just as
    the Government cannot be used for religious purposes.

    CHRISTIANS, GET OVER YOUR ‘EVER SO HUMBLE’ TREASON.
    Save yourselves from Hell on your own dime!

    • Chaplain Martin

      Dear Bro. Max
      ‘EVER SO HUMBLE’ TREASON.? Boy you do like to stir things up. I know it wont do any good to tell you that if it hadn’t been for the descending religious groups (to the state-church) joining with Jefferson and Madison the first amendment would have not been so worded. When John Adams ran for a second term his campaign slogan was “Adams for God, Jefferson and no God”. Baptist backed Jefferson, there was no 501c3 back them.
      The church to which I belong never endorses any political candidate for office. If they ever do, I’m gone from there.

      • @Chaplain Martin,

        you said, “Baptists backed Jefferson, there was no 501c3 back then”

        Right !!!!!!!
        EXACTLY !!!!!

        And do you know why The Baptists of Danbury Ct.
        supported Thomas Jefferson
        so strongly?

        Because
        Thomas Jefferson got an EMERGENCY 911 CALL
        from The Christian Baptists!

        THE BAPTISTS WERE BEING OPENLY AND VIOLENTLY PERSECUTED BY….

        WAIT FOR IT….

        WAIT….

        THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATIONALISTS OF DANBURY, CT. !!

        ——

        To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.
        Gentlemen

        The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

        Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
        I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

        Thomas Jefferson
        Jan. 1. 1802.

        ——-

        THE CHRISTIAN BAPTISTS KNEW THE VALUE
        OF CHURCH STATE SEPARATION!

        PERSECUTION WAS NOT FROM THE ATHEISTS!
        PERSECUTION CAME FROM OTHER CHRISTIAN SECTS!

        I HOPE YOU KNOW
        THAT I AM SCREAMING THIS
        INTO MY COMPUTER.

        —-

        (calmly) I’m glad you support church state separation.
        We have an enormous amount of work to do to educate Americans.
        Their profound ignorance on church/state separation will destroy the wall and bring about Christian conflagration.

        Long live the Constitution of the USA!

        • Chaplain Martin

          Bro. Max
          I apologize for underestimating you so badly. I too have read the letter from Jefferson. It was too bad that he was not able at the time to do anything about it using federal power because at that time the first amendment (Bill of Rights) did not apply to states. Many of them did make laws of their own to meet with the “First”. I think it took the fourteenth to make Bill of Rights apply to all states.

          Brother, we have a job in front of us. This is something we can agree on.

          • @Chaplain Martin,

            No need to apologize. My caps were on to get the attention not of you so much but of others who peruse these comments looking for the occasional screamer.

            “This is something we can agree on.”
            ABSOLUTELY! WITHOUT ANY DOUBT!!

            I fully support religious freedom for all.
            Long live the US Constitution!
            May we all unite and defend the establishment clause forever.

        • The government can not have control of religion. The opposite is not stated or implied.
          Also while Jefferson was the major force behind the Declaration of Independence, he had no physical connection with either the constitution or the bill of rights.
          By the rules of the so called freedom from religion zealots, church lead opposition to slavery, segregation or suffrage would have been allowed. The same for prohibition.

    • You believe the comment? Not so certain it is true.

      I’d like to have more sources directly verifying this story’s take on Freedom Pulpit Sunday.

      I say there is a strong chance that the description of this event is inaccurate.

      Over 1,000 churches would not be so foolish as to put their 501c3 status in jeopardy.

    • Ya’ll are hilarious!!
      It is not against the constitution for churches to speak about political views or the first amendment. It’s only against the 501c3 tax code. The day the government tells me I cannot stand in my pulpit and preach what God thinks about abortion homosexuality or any other scriptural moral issue , is the day my church revokes our 501c3 status and pays taxes… The tax code is what is against the constitution , stifling FREE SPEECH !!

  4. Pastors have no business endorsing candidates. Transparency is good. Besides, if an IRS agent comes to my church for a few weeks he’s likely to get saved!

  5. I don’t have a problem with the IRS trying to keep tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from direct involvement in partisan politicking. I do, however, have every expectation that it will be selectively enforced. What would make anyone imagine that the IRS won’t be just as uniformly partisan in removing tax-exemption as it has proven itself to be in granting tax exemption status?

    Does anyone really believe such a policy would be enforced against African-American churches that solicit votes for partisan candidates and causes as vigorously (if at all) as against “conservative” churches and religious groups?

    • @brucechap,

      If Republicans find a liberal church pushing a democratic candidate
      they can sue the church – even get the church closed down and make a big stink.

      How is that a bad thing?
      You want Pastors to be above the law?
      How well has that worked in the Pedophile cases?

      The law has been ignored for years – until now!
      And thousands of churches were guilty of breaking the law.

      If Preachers want to do politics, let them try to get the votes
      instead of exploiting the fools in the pews with threats of Hell!

      • Max: If you would actually read my post, you’d notice I said I didn’t have a problem with the IRS ensuring that tax-exempt organizations stay out of partisan politics.

        Perhaps you’re just trolling. If not, try to stick to the issue and reply to comments made, rather than making everything a forum for your anger.

        • @brucechap,

          you said, “I do, however, have every expectation that it will be selectively enforced.”

          You seem to think this is a problem, but I think ‘selectivity’ is exactly the right way to begin to solve this mess. Imagine if the same energy went into laws against religion’s collusion with a network of pedophiles.
          That is my point.

          And yes.
          Religion’s encroachments on American Law are particularly infuriating, damaging (to everyone) and a needless burden on a country still reeling from too many other serious problems.

          Religion is in the way, putting up roadblocks on every good idea and practical solution from Climate change legislation to Women’s rights.

          But we won this round.
          Long live the USA and its wondrous Constitution.

          • @ Max: Again, did you read what I wrote? Are you saying you favor selective enforcement, where the IRS shows favoritism to churches of one political persuasion by allowing their partisan political activities (because their politics agrees with your own), while actively working against churches that might support causes with which you disagree? If you want a selective partisan IRS intrusion into politics, then you are advocating anything but a constitutional separation of church and state – you are advocating the state’s endorsement and establishment of one religion over another.

          • @brucechap,
            Well. You were right to point out that selective enforcement is likely.
            But I’m saying I’m perfectly fine if the IRS starts out selectively going after certain churches for political reasons. I don’t have a problem with it because from my point of view anything that diminishes the power of the churches is a net IMPROVEMENT for American Politics generally. The churches have gummed up enough of the political system as it is.

            Further, Separation of Church and State is well maintained in this balance. Because it is not in the interests of either political party to tolerate selective enforcement over time.

            The churches will have to behave or they will be inviting the party out of power to challenge them. This is great.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        It seems those on the left are afraid of the voters in the pews They say “let them try to get votes”–then go bezerk if religious people actually do that and vote. Then they become “fools in the pew” if they don’t grovel at the feet of liberal politicians for disagreeing with them.
        I suppose only politicians should be allowed to give speeches on hot issues and candidates to members of their party , but church leaders must say nothing to their communities or be punished.
        A recent survey in a state that toyed with the idea of ending church exemptions discovered that a huge number of small churches would be driven into bankruptcy–which is what some atheists really want to do.
        But that survey made it clear that forcing huge number of churches to close would eventually create a state dictatorship on many issues.. .
        Interestingly,Virtually all historians agree the American Revolution was won from Congregational pulpits (Sam Adams,, the revolutionary firebrand ,was a deacon of his church). Most of the people leading the fight against slavery were religious or had religious roots. The same in the Civil Rights era (ever hear of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
        I guess King and Adams should have had their pulpits taxed into bankruptcy.

      • What this thing comes down to is: if a pastor or rabbi or othe clergyman wants to endorse a political candidate then he or she should not count on doing it on the public dime. When you do not pay any taxes that is money not being collected for the public good. I’m sure that is the IRS’s thinking. Churches are totally free to describe and explain what is in the best interests of social justice and leave it to the consciences of the congregation how to vote. That’s what I’d do if I were at the pulpit.

  6. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The problem is almost every political issue has a moral-religious component and almost every moral-religious issue has a political component.
    That is why the broadest latitude should be given to churches (and other groups) to state their case without fear of Big Brother stomping on them by corrupt manipulation of IRS tax exemption rules as has been happening over the past few years to help out one side of the political spectrum.

    • @Deacon,

      You said, “let the churches….state their case without fear of Big Brother”

      BIG BROTHER?
      You invoke George Orwell to *defend* THEOCRACY !?
      This is too rich!

      The churches state that the entire religious enterprise is about
      THE AFTERLIFE and that we must “give unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s.”

      This has always been a lie.

      Because religion is only interested in the one power they know is truly available. The power over people in the HERE AND NOW who are still alive.

      Religion is ultimately interested in fascism; the extension of God’s authoritarian dictatorship over everyone. It cannot seem to keep to itself in its churches or in its community or in its homes. It must always project its power.

      This ruling restrains religion. You should celebrate that.
      Long live the USA and its wondrous constitution.

  7. Chaplain Martin

    First, I am a firm believer in the First Amendment, in total freedom of religion and speech.
    Please understand that individual churches who apply and receive 501c3 status by law are to refrain from becoming a political organization endorsing politicians for office. It’s either that or drop the 501c3. THIS DOES NOT MEAN that the pulpit or teachings of each church cannot speak truth to government. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT FREEDOM OF THE PULPIT, THUS, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, SHOULD BE DENIED, thus, the narrow path that the IRS must walk.
    Pamphlets and other printed material put out by any tax-exempt organization would provide proof if it endorses a candidate.

    The 1100 churches which supposedly disobeyed the rules should be honest and admit they have broken their agreement to the rules of the IRS and carry on their work as a church without tax-exempt status. Remember, however, taxing can be a danger to free speech. In a previous comment the writer wrote that those against abortion should keep it to themselves, thus, denial of freedom of speech.

    I believe the use and misuse of the tax-exempt status is widespread, from rock-collecting clubs, model airplane clubs, to colleges and universities and to “non-profit” hospitals.

    The minister housing allowance is a sticky issue. Secular organizations can be made to contribute a percentage to each employee’s Social Security. Social Security percentage cannot be mandated for ordained ministers. However, if the minister gets a housing allowance, he or she has to pay both the employer’s part and the employee’s part of Social Security. For me this was 15% of the amount of the housing allowance (also 15% of church salary). This was only when I was a pastor. As chaplain I got no housing allowance. Housing allowance should be phased out. I believe it started when many small churches could pay the pastor little but could provide some type of housing for him/her, when they were “on the field.” The pastor had no choice of housing and was expected to live near the church and, usually,”take care of things”.

  8. Take away their tax-exempt status and religious organizations can then do and say what they want to do and say. It is only when one asks the government to allow an organization to be free of taxes [even though the religious groups enjoy the benefits that tax dollars bring to a community] that rules come into play. This religious freeloading needs to stop – take away their tax exempt status and see how well they fair.

    • Chaplain Martin

      Dear Bro. Max
      ‘EVER SO HUMBLE’ TREASON.? Boy you do like to stir things up. I know it wont do any good to tell you that if it hadn’t been for the descending religious groups (to the state-church) joining with Jefferson and Madison the first amendment would have not been so worded. When John Adams ran for a second term his campaign slogan was “Adams and God, Jefferson and no God”. Baptist backed Jefferson, there was no 501c3 back them.

      • Chaplain,

        Please look for my passionate reply to you – somewhere above.

        I know all about Thomas Jefferson and why The Baptists of Danbury loved him.

        • Actually the Danbury Baptist’s where quite disappointed with Mr. Jefferson, which is what prompted their letter to him. You might want to review the attached, take a look at pages 230-232: http://www.leduclaw.org/Leduc_Liberty_Law_Review_Article_5-2_Printed_Edition.pdf

          (P.S. A fool states in their heart, there is no God…which explains why your thoughts are nothing but rubbish…read the link, and you might learn something)….

          “Mr. Jefferson wrote little on religion between 1786 and his
          election in 1800; but from his election until his correspondence with the
          Danbury Baptists, he wrote more letters with religious content than he had in his entire life.120 Without exception, each of these letters contained criticism of the clergy.121 Jefferson saw the Danbury petition as an opportunity to promote his views—something he was eager to do. He was disappointed at the lack of response from the public, whom he had hoped to persuade to accept his point of view as expressed in the letter.122 While some papers in New England published the letter, the Danbury Baptists essentially ignored it.123 The Baptists, not seeking the separation of Church and State, considered this view a radical departure from what they believed was proper.124 They simply sought disestablishment of the recognized Connecticut church so one religion would not be favored above all others.125

          • @Patrick,

            1. Christians and other religionists cannot be trusted to keep the peace between themselves.

            2. The Christian Baptists of Danbury were being persecuted by the Christian Congregationalists of Danbury who ran the county. The Baptists asked for help.

            3. President Thomas Jefferson – who did not trust religion – reinforced a wall between church and State in response.

            4. Jefferson ensured the power of the state would never get into the hands of clergy.

            P.S. – Since you quote the Bible I see You have fallen for the Bible’s sales pitch.

            “The fool says in his heart; “There is no God!””
            (Proverbs 14:1)

            “Buy a Toyota Carolla today, it is the best in its class”
            (Toyota Car company)

            What is the difference?

            Besides, why quote The Book of Proverbs
            which Jesus clearly hated?

            “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)
            “Woe unto you that laugh! for ye shall mourn and weep.” – Jesus (Luke 6:25)

            Flip a coin and take your pick. It is nonsense.
            Can’t make much use of any of it.

            “Blessed are the peace makers” – Jesus
            “I come not to bring peace, but division” – Jesus

            It is all just contradictory gibberish.

          • @PATRICK,

            God Himself says
            He cannot be trusted:

            “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
            (2 Thessalonians 2:11)

            AND YET…

            “If what a prophet proclaims does not take place or come true,
            that is a message the Lord has not spoken.”
            (Deut. 18:20-22)

            This is like your Uncle saying “I do tell lies”
            but “if you hear a lie, it wasn’t me.”

            Good grief!
            Human beings must have more respect for themselves
            than to engage seriously in this primitive drivel.

    • Chaplain Martin

      Rockerbabe
      “Take away their tax exempt status and see how well they fair.” The argument for taxing citizens in the early days of the forming of the republic was that churches could not exist unless tax dollars were paid to the churches. Instead churches grew tremendously and nations which continued with state supported churches have seen a great decline in growth of churches.
      “Religious freeloading” I’m with you if all 501c3 organizations are held to the same standard.

  9. Simple fact: Churches don’t HAVE to take the tax exemption.

    A tax exemption is a subsidy, and when you take a subsidy you are effectively an employee. Churches that choose to be employees of the government shouldn’t complain when the boss tells them what to say.

    A few churches have chosen not to take the exemption, because they value the freedom to speak without IRS supervision.

    Take the emperor’s silver, become the emperor’s slave.

    • Not many of my parishioners would buy into the notion that they are receiving a subsidy (although it is true–maybe better characterized as a tax expenditure). But that they are employees of the state? Never.

  10. Too many folks here have no clue about Constitutional law. The reason the IRS does nothing to enforce their own regulation is because it runs afoul of the 1st Amendment, freedom of speech and right to assembly. Just because the speech is said in a church does not make it illegal. Speech is protected, regardless of the venue. The idea the tax status is threatened over speech finds no foundations within constitutional jurisprudence. It is an IRS produced administrative rule, not constitutional law…that is why the IRS fails to enforce a rule they know will find no support in Court. The Government cannot tax a church. Period. However, one may speak freely in a church, about any subject, and the Government can not regulate what is said. For the government to do so would be to regulate speech. The government cannot regulate speech. Threatening a tax status given under the 1st amendment for promoting speech protected by the same amendment, in a venue protected by the free exercise clause, is a black letter as it gets.

    Suggestion: If you do not have a J.D….then feel free to state an opinion, but don’t act like you know what you are talking about when it comes to issues such as these.

    • And just to make the above clear for the lay person….let me provide an excellent example….Say a Pastor comes out against his local County Commissioner, who supported a Gay Rights ordinance without an exemption for Religious organizations (so called conscience clauses). The Pastor preaches a message about the importance of marriage, and how earthly marriage between one man and one woman, being Biblical, also reflects the Church’s relation with Christ as the Bride of Christ. The Pastor encourages his congregation to support the opponent, who has taken a stand in favor of traditional marriage. In addition, he tells his congregation that they should not vote for anyone who takes position anti ethical to scriptures (those who are pro choice, pro gay marriage, etc…) The FFRF decides that they don’t like these views, and wants the IRS to suppress view with which they disagree. The IRS attempts to do so at their urging. In court, the Federal Judge inquires how this is not suppression of speech, and how this is not a violation of church state separation (which runs both to and from Government…in other words, it works both ways)…..

    • “Too many folks here have no clue about Constitutional law.”

      You can count yourself among them.

      The issue is not whether a clergyman’s speech is legal or not. That is a given. The issue its whether their activity is a taxable event or whether it is simply religious practice which is not.

      The test is simple, when a church acts like a PAC, they get taxed for such activity. Government is not regulating speech as much as it is preventing abuse of the tax free status afforded to churches by administrative legal statute. You do not have a constitutional right for churches to be tax free. It is just good practice most of the time.

      “he tells his congregation that they should not vote for anyone who takes position anti ethical to scriptures (those who are pro choice, pro gay marriage, etc…) ”

      And at that point the Pastor has ceased being performing a religious rite and become a political aide. Once you cross the line to use the pulpit to tell people how they should vote, you have become a politician. Such activity is strongly discouraged because it promotes sectarian discrimination, abuse of power of religious authority, and a level of entanglement of religion with government which is expressly forbidden in our constitution.

        • Or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Perhaps you’re referring to Jeffersons Danbury Baptist letter which promoted freedom of religious speech against a state abetted Anglican Church? Yes the state should make no laws respecting the establishment of religion. Not sure how martin luther king speaking politics from the pulpit qualifies as congress mandating a state religion.

  11. Bruce Langwiser

    While the back and forth talk about IRS, churches and taxes is both interesting and amusing, no one has mentioned that these statutes came into being because Lyndon Baines Johnson was facing election, the churches almost succeeded in keeping him out of office so in retaliation the IRS laws preventing political speech were instituted through legislation he initiated.

    • It also closes a loophole which allowed political parties to have tax free electioneering. LBJ was probably the most successful president of all time in getting far-reaching legislation passed on his watch. I would not hold his part in the laws against him.

  12. As an evangelist I do get invited to churches to preach and I just want to say that I am not going to be bullied or intimidated into silencing myself on important moral issues by the Nazi IRS. What we are forgetting here in this discussuion is that number
    1. as a private Citicizen I do have full first amendment right protections whether I am in a pulpit or not and nobody is going to take that away from me.
    2. The US Constitution under the First Amendment clearly prohibits thwe Fed government from interfering with or trying to control the free excercise of religion and the excercise of free speech which would make the IRS tax code illegal and unconstitutional.
    Lastly i think that any church that is 501C should renounce that status and get rid of it because under the US Constitution the chrurches already tax exempt, secondly, the Churches still under this illegal and Unconstitutional statues should defy the IRS and preach the full council of the word of God, if the iRS trys to inerfere with their God given rights they should sue them!

  13. Longl ive the first amendment, keep the facist federal government out of our pulpits and our churches!
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.[1]“

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