Churches Fight For Bigger Political Role

The division between church and state becomes more tenuous as the days go on.

Tired of being restrained by the IRS, many right-wing churches are pushing for a larger role in the nation’s political landscape and have launched a drive to break out of their tax-exempt status:

Defying a federal tax law they consider unjust, 33 ministers across the country will take to their pulpits this Sunday and publicly endorse a candidate for president.

They plan to then send copies of their sermons to the Internal Revenue Service, hoping to provoke a challenge to a law that bars religious organizations and other nonprofits that accept tax-deductible contributions from involvement in partisan political campaigns.

The protest, called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, was organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a consortium of Christian lawyers that fights for conservative religious and social causes. When the fund first announced the protest this year, it said it planned to have 50 ministers taking part. As of Thursday it said it had hundreds of volunteers, but had selected only 33 who were fully aware of the risks and benefits.

As the ADF organizes its forces, activists in California are instructing Churches on how to fight for Proposition 8, a ballot measure aimed at reversing this year’s gay marriage win. This isn’t the first time religious organizations have played a role in politics, but the determination of these recent actions indicates a more aggressive push against our nation’s constitutional foundation. And it’s really, really scary.

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  • KB

    I’ve thought it was time for churches to give up their tax exempt status so that we can have the impact on our society we need to have. The church has been silent for too long! We’ve coward in the corner while the darkness of our society has thrived. We are called to stand firm. Right now we’re caving and cowering. We look more like the darkness than the light. Wake Up People! Or, we’ll lose the little we have!

  • Bob R

    Churches should be stripped of tax exempt status. They too are a business entity that rakes in billions in profits with little or no real accountability. All churches should be subject to taxation like any other business entity.

  • Scott Conger

    Last I heard, 70% of businesses in the US paid no taxes. These ministers should just drop their tax exempt status and get better accountants.

  • polobear

    Yes Tax the Churches a co-worker was handing out flyers that advertised a political forum on Prop 8 in his church
    I am sure the organizers were making a mint, tax free

  • Kevin

    Churches that operate as non-profit 501(c)3 are state churches, bound to the same rules as the rest of the state citizens- mainly to be a good “trustee” under the law. They have no separation of church and state, they are owned by the state. Churches that operate as 508’s are recognized as a spiritual entity, and non taxable. They can speak about whatever they want, they are above the state. If you are a 501(c)3, you are bound by the state and fed. You’re called a church, but are really bound by the laws of the creditors, those who really own the church and message.

  • Krisztian

    I think its fare to give Churches tax exempt status if they promis to stay out of politics because unlike a corporation they can exlude people from their group just because of their religion. If want to be in the political game they should be held to every standard as any large corporation including lawsuits for exluding people on basis of their religion.

  • Kevin

    Churches should not be bound by the rules of a political game, they are supposed to be a higher organization that government.
    The US is backwards, the churches are under federal control.
    If a church is under the state as a tax-exempt, then they are a state church, bound by state “beliefs”. You worship under the state, under their rules. Your pledge of allegiance shows the flow of power. You pledge to a flag, that stands for the corp US (standing in for the republic), under God. You pledge to a flag of a bankrupt corporation, which deals with God on your behalf. So those churches aren’t free to talk about the management.
    Study your law and history and the contracts that bind you.

  • bullet

    1)Kevin is a dork.

    2)All churches are 501(c)(3), whether they file or not. (What the hell is a 508?)

    3)Churches can freely engage in political discourse (like the Proposition 8 flyer), but cannot endorse (or denounce) a political candidate.

    I’ve got links to and a broader explanation of all these statements here. Except for the first one. That should be self-evident.

  • Kevin

    Hi, “Bullet”.

    1) You are a name caller extraordinaire. Impressive tactic for discussion. I imagine you’re enjoying the presidential campaign.

    2) Not all churches are organized as 502(c)3, proof is abundant. Research a 508, and other ways to be recognized. Don’t just dismiss because you don’t know. Present research before publishing ignorance.
    I’d send you links to that information, but you de-spire me to let you find your own. I doubt you will.

    If anyone is truly interested, they can find out about a 508- spiritual entity status. Not all churches are taxable US entities.

  • bullet

    Forgive me for the paraphrase. It’s why I directed everyone to the comments on the other blog (not mine).

    In the absence of filing for status, all entities declaring themselves a “church” are automatically 501(c)(3). That means churches receive tax-exempt status automatically.

    I did look for 508, but 508 clarifies the 501(c)(3) rule for churches. If you are referring to some other part of the tax code or something else altogether please provide a link, as a search for “508 spiritual entity status” yielded no results.

    Thank you for the compliment, Kevin, but I would hardly classify myself as a “name caller extraordinaire”. If “dork” is your idea of extraordinary, I have to wonder. If you don’t wish to be called a dork, the you should refrain from making dorky statements like:

    You worship under the state, under their rules. blah, blah, blah, So those churches aren’t free to talk about the management.

    That’s a very paranoid, right-wing-compound type of statement.

    BTW, dork is a euphemism for penis.

Comments are closed.