Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pastors and Political Speech - #3272(a) - VIDEO: Pastors Unite Against IRS Tax Code Restrictions on Political Speech in the Pulpit The Blaze

Pastors United Against IRS Tax Code Restrictions on Political Speech in the Pulpit - The Blaze - Are American pastors free to share their political views from the pulpit? The answer to this question is complex. While some issues can certainly be discussed, there are also government-sanctioned limitations on partisan preaching (especially if churches expect to keep their tax-exempt status).  A regulation added to the IRS code back in 1954 has muddied the waters for pastors, creating a scenario in which some leaders are too fearful of federal consequences to exercise their right to free speech from the pulpit.  With pastors unsure of just how far they can take their partisan comments about specific candidates, some religious leaders find themselves purposefully avoiding the subject — a result that has potentially led to a decline in church education on issues of great social and political importance.  As faith influences an individual’s take on social and political issues, one wonders why religious leaders face restrictions on speech that is so intertwined with personal religious beliefs.  The fear and uncertainty that some faith leaders experience is driven by the aforementioned ban on political campaign activity that was instituted on both charities and churches, alike, nearly 60 years ago. It was back in 1954 that Congress approved of what has become known as the “Johnson Amendment.” The provision, which still stands today, explicitly prohibits 501(c)(3) organizations (churches and charities) from engaging in campaign activity.  Read more........

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