More Persecution of the Christian Minority, Part 4: What Happens When the IRS Chooses to Enforce the Law

Posted: November 8, 2014 in politics, religion, taxes
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I chose my words carefully for the title of this post, specifically the “Chooses” part. At issue is the law that churches cannot engage in political speech. Churches, since 1954, for purposes of the tax code so that they are not taxed (which is apparently constitutional and ruled on by the Supreme Court in 1970 — see this page), are 503(c)3 organizations. Meaning that, as I said, they are not taxed. But a restriction on 503(c)3 groups is that they cannot engage in political advocacy and lobbying.

Which seems to make sense to me. If you want to keep the church separate from the government such that the government won’t tax you, then the church shouldn’t have influence over the government, including telling its parishioners who they should or should not vote for.

And, that’s the law.

But, the IRS, for years if not decades (which I realize are the same thing, but it’s a common phrase), has ignored this. They have overlooked the blatant, deliberate, and even well-advertised politicking that churches do. And some might argue that ignoring the law in this case is breaking the law.

In fact, the well-advertised and -organized “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” this year had an estimated 1800 pastors around the country defying the IRS and deliberately endorsing political candidates. From RationalWiki:

Pulpit Freedom Sunday — which is scheduled for the last Sunday of September/first Sunday in October — is the day when right wing fundy batshit crazy American pastors decide to flout their churches’ tax-exempt status by making political speeches during their Sunday services, despite the fact that the Bible repeatedly commands Christians to obey secular law. The first Pulpit Freedom Sunday occurred on 28 September 2008, when it looked more and more likely that One Of Those People was about to win the presidency.

The actual goal of this was to have the IRS revoke their tax-exempt status so that they could sue the IRS/government with the gaol of the Supreme Court saying it was an infringement on the churchs’ freedom of speech to not be allowed to speak about politics.

And yet, the IRS has remained silent. Until they were sued by the Freedom from Religion Foundation for not enforcing their own rules and the law. The IRS reached a settlement with the FFRF earlier in 2014 where they agreed to enforce the law. And WND had the Sadz:

Much of the content is fear-mongering and allegations of Christian Persecution (see the third headline, for example). Some of it is clearly not knowing the law (fourth headline). While others (fifth, sixth headlines) clearly demonstrate that WND knows it’s against the law for pastors to do this. Meanwhile, Bob’s “clandestine” word in the second headline is ridiculous, because this is not secretive on the part of the IRS, as Bob himself has been crowing for years about churches openly flouting the law.

All told, about 1200 comments were written to these six posts. And, they are similar to the headlines: Showing their true hypocrisy of claiming that what the pastors are doing is perfectly legal, while at the same time crowing about how they should preach politics because it is illegal.

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