Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The IRS Warnings: Scare Tactics or Signs of Things to Come?

From the daily report of the Family Research Council --

Today's New York Times features an article with the chilling title, "IRS eyes religious groups as more enter election fray." The alarm is misplaced; the law is clear that pastors have every right to speak out on the important issues of the day without endangering the tax status of their churches (after all, church members are citizens, and the issues concern the common good). The only thing churches may not do is engage in partisan politics, e.g., endorse candidates.

There is, for instance, a continuing controversy over an IRS investigation into a prominent liberal church - All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, California. Unless the pastor endorsed a particular candidate, he was legally free to speak, critically or otherwise, about issues of public policy.

To respond to confusion about these issues, today, along with our friends at Alliance Defense Fund, FRC is sending a letter to thousands of churches that makes it clear that our tax laws do not require pastors to hide their light under a bushel.

On October 15, in a nationwide "Liberty Sunday" simulcast, FRC is joining with Boston churches to educate Christians about the threat posed to religious freedom by cultural and legal developments. In a nation that was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and where pastors have always been the leaders in denouncing injustice, FRC is determined that pastors are not frightened into silence.

My note --The problem here is that our era has seen an awful lot of unconstitutional, unfair and previously unthinkable things happen. I'm not at all confident that the IRS will back off nor am I at all confident that the courts wouldn't support their power grab. After all, the courts okayed McCain-Feingold and a more obvious example of flying against the Constitution could be imagined. No, the creeping constriction of free speech (unless it is profanity, blasphemy, threats against the President, and so on) continues with each passing day.