Warning Letter to 60,000 Pastors: We’re Watching What You Preach

Americans United for Separation of Church and State evidently sent copies of this letter to 60,000 pastors recently. It’s important to remember that Americans United is not an official agency of any governmental entity. This letter has no force of law and is just their opinion. Our local AU affiliate here in Oklahoma has sent similar letters to pastors in my House district in the past. The pastors I talked to about it tell me they threw it in the trash.

 

  • http://biltrix.wordpress.com Biltrix

    The part about being wary of voter guides is what gets me. How does one interpret what constitutes “thinly veiled partisan materials”? Is it up to the IRS to determine that? These pastors are right to throw this letter in the trash. It amounts to little more than a flimsy scare tactic.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Flimsy scare tactic: Exactly right. I would be surprised if they sent these to those pastors who support abortion or the HHS mandate.

  • http://reflectionsofacatholicchristian.wordpress.com/ Paul Bradford

    Rebecca,

    You do such a good job of keeping track of what’s going on! I’d be curious to see if anything develops in the upcoming weeks.

    Peace,
    Paul

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Paul. I’m curious about that, too.

  • http://bigmatsblog.wordpress.com/ Mathew

    Maybe it’s just me but, it sounds like the regulation is self defeating. In order to keep the affairs of churches and the government separate, it makes the affairs of the church a government affair.

    As far as the letter goes, it looks like a threat thinly veiled under the guise of neighborly advice.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Mathew, I agree with everything you said. Great comment.

  • http://ackans.com Mr. V.

    If I were a priest, I wouldn’t throw the letter in the trash. I save junk mail like that, and have a box that I regularly throw such trash into. When I go out to do some BBQ, I grab a few and use them as a means of getting my charcoal lit. I have a couple of those charcoal chimneys, and methinks the letters described in your post above would make great ‘kindling’ to get the charcoal lit and nicely hot and ready for grillin’.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      :-)

  • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

    Each of you (as an Italian this is not directly my concern) should send a letter to the nearest Americans United etc. representative saying something like, we are monitoring your attempts to intimidate the clergy, and if you do anything that even looks like stepping over the line, you’ll be in court so fast you’ll think you’ve been taken there in a Formula One car. Or perhaps a more elegant phrasing, but why should sauce for the goose not be sauce for the gander?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      This is a good suggestion Fabio. It needs refinement to fit America, but the underlying point is well-taken. Are there legal remedies for well-funded, organized intimidation?

      • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

        If there isn’t, there should be. Perhaps as a legislator you might look into it?

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          This wouldn’t be a legislative action. Lawsuits are a civil action. As for spark-plugging a movement, I think this is a great idea, but I can’t do it for the simple reason that I am overburdened with what I already have in front of me. I can, and will, pass it along to some attorneys I know who might be interested. Also, some other activists. If they take it up, I’ll post their petitions, sign their amicus curiae briefs or whatever (if they need me to do that.) But that’s all I can do without abandoning other things that I can NOT abandon.

          • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

            Whoops! That was an airy bit of nonsense, or at least very little sense, and I did not realize you would take it so seriously. I KNOW that you are doing everything that is in your power as a lawmaker, and I apologize if I ever sounded like I suggested otherwise.

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              NO worries Fabio.

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  • Jewels Green

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_W._Lynn

    Barry Lynn is a suspended attorney in Washington D.C. http://www.dcbar.org/find_a_member/results.cfm
    It could be worthwhile to forward this to their bar association, as he’s essentially issuing legal threats, which is generally frowned upon. http://www.dcbar.org/inside_the_bar/contact_us/index.cfm
    http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/YourABA/201108makingthreats.authcheckdam.pdf

    The real issue is whether (a) Mr. Lynn is acting as a lawyer in sending the letter: the disclaimer about the letter not constituting legal advice suggests that he IS acting as a lawyer for SOMEBODY, just not the recipient of the letter; and (b) whether the content of the letter constitutes a cognizable “threat” under the attorney ethics rules and any relevant law (for example, (a) the IRS rewards snitches with a cut of any recovery that comes from the tip: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Whistleblower—Informant-Award; (b) the ethics rules contemplate an attorney threatening criminal prosecution to gain leverage in a civil matter, not two non-attorneys smack talking each other).

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      These are interesting points Jewels. How do you know he’s a suspended attorney? I’d like to see more about that.

  • JT

    PriorPrior to churches becoming 501c3 non-profit corporations the church enjoyed tax immunity, but under the 501c3 status the churches are just tax exempt. Anything the government can grant it can just as easy take away, it also puts the church under state jurisdiction. You can’t serve two masters, in fact it is forbidden in the scriptures. Questions? “Would you rather have tax immunity or be tax exempt?” and “Would you rather be under the Heavenly Father’s jurisdiction or the government’s jurisdiction?” If you look at the history of the 501c3 church, it was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1952 who pushed for the churches to give up their immunity for the status of exemption as a 501c3 corporation. LBJ knew the influence the church had over political choices and wanted to stop it. Churches need to repent and come back to the Heavenly Father’s jurisdiction and protection. Think about it, pray to the Heavenly Father for the answers!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      JT, I don’t know about about the income tax law to comment on this. I do know that there is more to this threat than just the question of money. If the government can tax churches, this will open a whole new door (one big enough to drive absolute tyranny through) for government interference in churches

      You are correct: We need to pray.

      • JT

        The government already interferes in the 501c3 churches as they are under the government’s jurisdiction. You are right, the threat is more than mere money, it is more about influence and false worship and steering the people away from the true teachings of Jesus the Christ. I am sure LBJ worked for the deceiver as well as many of our higher up government officials, alleged public servants.

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  • Pastor Bob

    yawn – looks like any derp sitting at starbucks can have a website

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