Pastors Prepare For Pulpit Freedom
Special Report - October 1, 2012
Over 1,000 pastors, and counting, have publicly committed to “preach sermons that present biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates” on October 7 during the fifth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF, which sponsors the annual event, says the number of pastors who have registered to participate in the 2012 Pulpit Freedom Sunday (1,050 so far) is nearly double the number of last year, when a total of 539 pastors participated (go here for a list of the 2011 church participants).
The annual event began in 2008 and is part of ADF’s Pulpit Freedom Initiative, which is “a legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit.” According to ADF, the event is intended to give pastors the opportunity to “exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to engage in religious expression from the pulpit, despite an Internal Revenue Service rule known as the Johnson Amendment,” which has been used by activist groups, such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, to attempt to “silence churches by threatening their tax-exempt status.” Eventually, ADF hopes to challenge the constitutionality of the Johnson Amendment in federal court.
A 2011 poll of 1,000 pastors conducted by ADF and Lifeway Research found that nine out of 10 pastors (or 86 percent) disagreed with the following statement: “The government should regulate sermons by revoking a church’s tax exemption if its pastor approves of or criticizes candidates based on the church’s moral beliefs or theology.”
“Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS,” said Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley in a statement. “It’s outrageous for pastors and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for applying biblical teachings to all areas of life, including candidates and elections. The question is, ‘Who should decide the content of sermons: pastors or the IRS?’”
More information about Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which is scheduled for October 7, including information on how to register to participate, is available at ADF’s Speak Up Movement website, along with a number of resources on the legal rights of churches.
Church Voter Registration Endorsed - September 19, 2012
Pastors Want Government Out of Pulpit - September 15, 2011
Groups Fight For Religious Freedom - August 31, 2010
Freedom Of Religion Statement Issued - January 20, 2010
Taking a Stand - Findings - 2006
Church Involvement - Findings - 2004
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