Posts Tagged ‘tax code’

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.

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