Four years ago when I touched on the issue of politics being addressed from church pulpits (see article here) I was overlooking one big fat problem that the IRS cannot overcome: it’s called the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Fortunately, Gary DeMar over at Godfather Politics has set me straight with the following post:
Pastors meeting in Washington were warned by officials from the Internal Revenue Service that there are some political activities that could jeopardize their churches’ tax-exempt status. IRS regional manager Peter Lorenzetti told the Faith Leaders Summit that that pastors in their official capacity are not permitted to endorse or oppose candidates, campaign for them, or make contributions to their campaigns. Pastors can, as private citizens, do these things.
The First Amendment does not prohibit churches from speaking out on any issue including political ones, even if they are tax exempt. The amendment is so clear that liberals almost never cite it:
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.
Rob Boston, Assistant Director of Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Assistant Editor of Church & State magazine, engages in similar constitutional fiction: “A church cannot link or direct people to an organization telling people how to vote. . . . All nonprofits, including churches, cannot endorse or oppose candidates. The IRS does warn nonprofits about linking to campaign-related websites.”
To prohibit a church from linking to any site for any reason is a violation of the First Amendment. Notice that the First Amendment gives everybody, churches included, the right to speak about religion, write about religion, congregate about religion, and “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
I stand corrected, and encourage you to read DeMar’s entire article.