October 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Over 1,200 pastors from across the country have signed up to challenge IRS regulations that threaten churches with the loss of their tax-exempt status if they wade into politics by participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday this Sunday, October 7. The event, associated with the Pulpit Initiative, is being held by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Despite IRS regulations forbidding 501c3 organizations from endorsing political candidates, pastors participating in the event are encouraged to give biblical perspectives on topics relating to the election such as abortion and gay “marriage” from the pulpit, and then to mail these sermons to the IRS.
Pastors will be represented from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Thirty-three pastors participated in the first Pulpit Freedom Sunday in 2008 and since then the numbers have skyrocketed.
Pastors of America are “not instructing people about how the bible applies to the national life of the voting electorate,” says Pastor Jim Garlow in a video about Pulpit Freedom Sunday featured at iPledgeSunday, an event held last month by the Family Research Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. Garlow, who has been involved in the event since its inception, is the pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, California.
Garlow notes that 40 years ago, everyone would have agreed that abortion is wrong and kills a baby inside the womb. Ten years ago, no one would have argued that marriage is anything but between one man and one woman. But now, says Garlow, when pastors speak out on these issues, their congregations say, “Pastor, you’re being too political.”
The IRS regulation in question, known as the Johnson Amendment, has become a popular tool of activist groups, who routinely threaten pastors who speak up on political issues with the loss of their tax exempt status. Recently one leftist organization, Americans United, sent 60,000 letters to churches nationwide urging them not to endorse political candidates this election season.
President Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for submitting the Johnson Amendment in 1954.
In a statement on the website for the event, Alliance Defending Freedom explains, “The goal of Pulpit Freedom Sunday is simple: have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional – and once and for all remove the ability of the IRS to censor what a pastor says from the pulpit.”
“Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS,” said Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley.
Garlow says, “We will not see the spiritual awakening we all long for until the pulpit is unfettered and unmuzzled.”
For more information about Pulpit Freedom Sunday, go to pulpitfreedom.org.