Posts Tagged ‘IRS’

Don’t be Intimidated by the Playground Bully

March 30, 2010

Many of us have been there – playing on the school playground when suddenly you find yourself in the cross-hairs of the school bully.  There you are minding your own business when the bully comes up to you and perhaps demands your lunch money or just wants to pick on you to satisfy their own cruelty.  Maybe you stood there with sweaty palms and a racing heart and gave in.  Or maybe you chose to fight back.  But the passage of time gives us a perspective that perhaps many of us lacked in those playground situations.  As we get older and more experienced in life we realized that the bully was really nothing more than a weakling who made up for his own weakness by being loud and obnoxious.  Perhaps that reality dawned on you if you refused to be pushed around by the bully and stood up to him.

Whatever the case, playground bullies still exist today, and one of the organizations that gets a kick out of trying to bully churches is Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  ADF was recently the subject of an AU blog post full of bellicose bullying.  AU basically yells at anyone who listens to them, that ADF’s Pulpit Initiative is a failure and that we should just give up. 

Basically, AU’s blog post boils down to threats and intimidation by the “playground bully” of churches.  And bullying churches is something that AU is very good at.  Every election cycle, AU sends letters to churches trying to scare them into not addressing the issues of the day, and breathing threats that any church who crosses AU’s imaginary line in the sand will get reported to the IRS (put another way, “if you don’t do what I say, I’m going to tell…”).  AU also reports churches to the IRS that it believes have violated the IRS rules and regulations.  What AU doesn’t tell you, though, is that the IRS almost never acts on any complaints AU files.  And what they don’t tell you is that the only substance behind AU’s threats against churches is their own say-so, which doesn’t amount to anything and certainly is not in line with constitutional law.

AU says that the Pulpit Initiative is a failure yet they continue to yell and scream about it to anyone who will listen.  This is the classic behavior of a playground bully who knows deep down inside that his only method of control is to scare people and who actually understands a threat to their regime of fear and intimidation.

And AU is wrong.  The Pulpit Initiative has been a success.  The Pulpit Initiative is a growing nationwide movement of pastors who refuse to be silenced and who refuse to let government agents look over their shoulder and censor what they preach from the pulpit.  And whether AU likes it or not, the Pulpit Initiative has opened to door to a new day where only pastors and the church leadership determine what is preached from the pulpit – and the government has no say-so in what a pastor preaches.  AU says it is an organization dedicated to preserving the separation of church and state yet it argues to continue a system of massive government entanglement and control of churches.  The inconsistency of their arguments is laughable.

Pastors, never let yourself be intimidated by the “playground bullies” of this age.  Preach the Gospel as God lays it on your heart to preach.  As Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”  Never let anyone scare you into silence on the vital moral issues of the day.  ADF will stand with you as we have stood with other pastors, and together we will see that the threats and intimidation by today’s bullies are nothing more than empty words.  And when we stand together, we’ll send these bullies packing.

Show the bullies you cannot be intimidated – sign up today for the Pulpit Initiative.

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How Government Got Its Foot in the Door of our Churches

March 3, 2010

If asked whether their pastor is free to preach however he feels led to preach, many would say, “of course!”  And some might even view the question itself as ridiculous.

But perception is not always reality, and one subtle but potent threat to the freedom of the pulpit has been quietly infiltrating America’s churches since 1954. That was the year Lyndon Johnson – then a powerful senator from Texas facing a tough re-election battle – suddenly found his road to Capitol Hill effectively blocked when two influential private nonprofits distributed thousands of pieces of literature against his re-election bid.

To Johnson’s mind, the impact of that literature had to be neutralized, and he soon hit on an ingenious plan to silence his opponents. On July 2, 1954, he stepped out on the floor of the Senate to propose an amendment to a pending tax overhaul bill. His amendment (which included churches and Christian ministries within its reach) prohibited nonprofits from supporting or opposing candidates for office.  It passed unanimously, without objection or debate.

Pulpit

Johnson’s amendment did more than stop the opposition of these two non-profits in their tracks. It turned 200 years of American history on its ear. For the first time, the federal government was actually authorized to punish a pastor for preaching about candidates during an election season.

Now, whether you believe that your pastor should preach about candidates during election season or not, the point is that it’s not in the interest of religious freedom to allow the government to make that decision for us.  Nor is it the job of the state to decide how closely a church can follow the mandates of Scripture in governing itself and fulfilling the Great Commission.

If today the government can tell your pastor not to apply Scriptures to candidates and election issues, then tomorrow it will be able to restrict his Bible-based speech on other, non-election issues – like homosexual behavior – that the government decides it has an interest in protecting.  After that, it won’t be long before government will move to restrict the speech of your pastor on even the very basics of the faith.

That’s why ADF launched the Pulpit Initiative, where we are looking to kick the government out of the pulpits of America and protect a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing any government censorship or control.  If you are a pastor, let us know if you are interested in the Pulpit Initiative.  It’s time we stand together to reclaim the freedom of the pulpit in America.