Friday, September 26, 2008

Sunday's Pulpit Initiative Will Challenge IRS Limits On Non-Profits

This Sunday is Alliance Defense Fund's "Pulpit Initiative". ADF has encouraged pastors to use the day to challenge Internal Revenue Service restrictions on churches (and other non-profits) that preclude them from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Today's Toledo Blade reports on ADF's plans. (I am among those interviewed for the article, and some of my comments on the reasons for the IRS limits are quoted.) An ADF White Paper outlines its arguments against the constitutionality of the IRS provisions, and an FAQ document describes the Initiative as "a strategic litigation plan". ADF says that participating pastors:
will deliver to their congregations sermons of their own that apply Scripture to the subject of candidates for government office. The sermons are intended to restore a pastor’s right to speak freely from his pulpit without fearing censorship or punishment by the government. By standing together and speaking with one voice, it is our hope to recapture the rightful place of pastors and churches in American life.
Some 33 pastors from 22 states will participate according to the Los Angeles Times. Participants will include Rev. Gus Booth of Warroad Community Church in Minnesota and Rev. Wiley S. Drake of First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California. [CORRECTION: ADF has informed me that Drake will not be one of the participants in the Pulpit Initiative.] Americans United issued a release on Wednesday criticizing the Pulpit Initiative, calling it "a Religious Right-led effort to politicize America’s pulpits." The Interfaith Alliance has posted a video titled Pulpit Politics: The Race for Pastor-in-Chief pointing out dangers of endorsements from the pulpit. (See prior related posting.) [Updated]