Fighting Back Against The Pulpit Initiative

You may have already heard: The (conservative Christian) Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is asking church leaders to endorse specific candidates on Sunday, September 28th, thereby breaking the law and challenging their own tax-exempt status.

It’s called The Pulpit Initiative:

On Sunday, September 28, 2008, we are seeking pastors who will preach from the pulpit a sermon that addresses the candidates for government office in light of the truth of Scripture. The sermon is intended to challenge the Internal Revenue Code’s restrictions by specifically opposing candidates for office that do not align themselves and their positions with the Scriptural truth. By standing together and speaking with one voice, it is our hope to recapture the rightful place of pastors and churches in American life.

According to The Washington Post, “The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.”

Of course, that would be foolish. The Supreme Court — even in today’s political climate — is unlikely to overturn any ruling against them. The conservatives stand to jeopardize a pretty good thing.

Part of me wants to see them endorse a candidate (presumably John McCain) solely so they can get their tax exemption revoked.

But it would be much easier if pastors simply respected their congregations enough to let them decide on their own whom to vote for.

Thankfully, other Christians aren’t just sitting back and watching this.

In fact, two pastors in Ohio are organizing a challenge to the ADF:

… [T]he Rev. Eric Williams and the Rev. Robert F. Molsberry… have called for hundreds of clergy to preach on Sept. 21 about the value of the separation of church and state.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has begun a new website informing readers of what the law is and how they can respond. It’s called Project Fair Play.

Most importantly, if you witness or hear of any pastor endorsing one candidate or the other (and yes, that includes Barack Obama, though I’m thinking we won’t be seeing much of that), please report the violation to AU.

  • Aethertrekker

    I agree. If they want to exercise their privilege to campaign instead of give to the poor, then there’s no good reason that they should be tax exempt.

  • Polly

    My FIL told me that the pastor of his church (which we haven’t stepped foot in for almost a year! :) )told his congregants that, by law, he’s not allowed to talk about who they should vote for, BUT, if they want his “opinion” as an individual they could talk to him one-on-one.

    Frankly, I don’t see why churches are tax exempt at all. What’s the basis?

  • Karen

    The audacity of these folks – and religious conservatives in general – never ceases to amaze me. They do not cower or make excuses in response to the charges that they are eroding separation of church and state, they go right for the jugular and try to blow up the wall separating church and state without apology or shame.

    Their bravery (if we can call it that) puts liberals and secularists to shame. Atheists and liberals in general do too much backtracking and apologizing in the fact of critics who claims we’re too “militant” and into the vacuum comes the true militants, like this group and the wacky Pentecostals who are wetting their pants over Sarah Palin.

    I’m starting to think that we need to become a whole lot more “in your face” about liberal and secular ideals. If we don’t, we risk losing our entire cherished way of life.

  • QrazyQat

    Let them endorse all they want; remove their tax exemptions. All of them. I’m tired of supporting any church with my tax dollars, and that’s what I’m forced to do when they get a special exemption.

  • mikespeir

    …we are seeking pastors who will preach from the pulpit a sermon that addresses the candidates for government office in light of the truth of Scripture.

    First they need to reach an agreement on what “the truth of scripture” is.

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    Churches also can’t discourage voting for particular candidates.

  • http://www.myspace.com/staticmartyr Tim D.

    That’s so interesting. I’ve heard of Christian groups taking actions with strange premises before….but this is about as blatant as it gets. They think they’re so special that they can (a) break constitutional law, (b) get away with it, and (c) change the law in the process. Pretty damn egotistical, if you ask me.

  • http://www.myspace.com/staticmartyr Tim D.

    I’m starting to think that we need to become a whole lot more “in your face” about liberal and secular ideals. If we don’t, we risk losing our entire cherished way of life.

    I’m already there, friend!

    http://www.myspace.com/timandjeffrey

    That’s pretty much what I do in my spare time: Indoctrinate The Unsuspecting Masses With My Filthy Liberal Ideologies!

    I tell you, it’s totally sweet~

  • cipher

    They’re becoming increasingly brazen as they become a more powerful force in our society. It’s the natural outcome of the “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” mentality. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken them this long. And this is just an attempt at a collective effort; they’ve been doing it individually for years. Rod Parsley used to do it, until the IRS called him on it – and it probably only came to their attention because he’s the commandant of a megachurch. I’m sure there are pastors in little mom-and-pop operations doing it all the time.

    Christine Wicker was here a few months ago, defending her belief that “real” conservative evangelicals are a minority, and that most aren’t out to commandeer society. She means well, but every aspect of my experience of the past three decades tends to prove her wrong. In fact, I may go to her blog and post a link to this.

  • Mark

    I think their impetus to tell the members of their congregation how to vote stems from the need for a clergyman to see them as his “flock” or “children.” He gives them moral guidance and they call him Father. =P


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