Main | Thursday, September 25, 2008

Christianists To Defy IRS Ban On Policial Speech And Sermonize For John McCain

Sigh. More wingnuttery from the pulpit.
Setting the stage for a collision of religion and politics, Christian ministers from California and 21 other states will use their pulpits Sunday to deliver political sermons or endorse presidential candidates -- defying a federal ban on campaigning by nonprofit groups.

The pastors' advocacy could violate the Internal Revenue Service's rules against political speech with the purpose of triggering IRS investigations.

That would allow their patron, the conservative legal group Alliance Defense Fund, to challenge the IRS' rules, a risky strategy that one defense fund attorney acknowledges could cost the churches their tax-exempt status. Congress made it illegal in 1954 for tax-exempt groups to publicly support or oppose political candidates.

"I'm going to talk about the un-biblical stands that Barack Obama takes. Nobody who follows the Bible can vote for him," said the Rev. Wiley S. Drake of First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park. "We may not be politically correct, but we are going to be biblically correct. We are going to vote for those who follow the Bible."

Drake was the target of a recent IRS investigation into his endorsement last year of former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. In the end, Drake was cleared.

These critics, such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State, argue that Sunday's sermons at churches in Oregon, Texas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and other states will violate federal tax law by politicizing the pulpit. That, they believe, will undercut the independence churches have long enjoyed to speak out about moral and ethical issues in American life, including women's suffrage, child labor and civil rights.
Of course, this bit about Obama's "non-biblical" stands are about his support for LGBT rights. The Alliance Defense Fund (which recently lost a challenge to NY Gov. Paterson's recognition of out-of-state gay marriages) plans to sue the IRS if the agency challenges any church in order to "restore the right of each pastor to speak scriptural truth from the pulpit." Spiritual truths like John McCain being an adulterer?

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