Politics and the pulpit
POSTED: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 5:42pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 10:38pm
An upcoming national event is shining a spotlight on a subject that involves two precious American freedoms…
The freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and what happens when they collide.
It’s an issue that comes up every campaign season.
In the Gospel of Mark it says to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.
But if Caesar has granted you a tax break, the subject gets more complicated.
The Internal Revenue Service is pretty clear on the subject of taxes and religion.
And most people think the government requires complete silence on the subject of politics.
But, it’s not that simple.
The rule is 57 years old.
The IRS says that a church or a member of clergy can take a stand on important issues or even pieces of legislation. But they cannot endorse candidates or parties.
A candidate can even visit your services. But if you endorse them, or refuse to host their opponent, you run afoul of the tax code.
Now an Arizona group, the Alliance Defense Fund, which argues issues of church and state, is holding its second “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”
Spokesman Erik Stanley says that pastors are censored in what they can preach, and that the Supreme Court has never ruled on the subject.
Technically, it has in a Supreme Court ruling in 1964. They said that it’s like using taxpayer money for partisan purposes.
The Rev. Ken Warren, Associate Pastor at Green Acres Baptist Church told us that it’s actually a relief to not endorse candidates.
Whoever the pastor favors, there will be somebody in the pews who is unhappy.