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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mayer: The Pulpit, Politics, RFRA, and Institutional Free Exercise

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame) has posted The Pulpit, Politics, RFRA, and Institutional Free Exercise on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

More than fifty years ago, Congress enacted with little deliberation a prohibition against political campaign intervention for all charities, including churches and other houses of worship. For many years the prohibition lay mostly dormant, invoked only rarely by the government and never against a house of worship for statements made from the pulpit. That period of relative peace is now over, however, as the government has begun a systematic enforcement effort and both religious liberty groups and houses of worship have reacted with increasing defiance. Yet predicating the ultimate result of this conflict is complicated by the shifting sands of free exercise of religion law, including still unsettled issues arising out of the Supreme Court's landmark Employment Division v. Smith decision applying the First Amendment and Congress' enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in response.

This article navigates that legal landscape, identifying and attempting to answer the open questions that courts may need to resolve to address this almost inevitable conflict. Those questions include the scope of the various exceptions to the rule announced in Smith and what exactly it is that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act restored. This exploration reveals that the First Amendment as currently interpreted by the federal courts is unlikely to prevent the government from applying the prohibition to sermons, but that churches and other houses of worship have a strong argument that RFRA does block the prohibition in the unique context of in-person, in-service sermons. This exploration also uncovers another possible line of argument for houses of worship - that, the First Amendment and the RFRA protect "institutional free exercise" as well as individual free exercise. Building on the existing but still somewhat incoherent church autonomy doctrine, an institutional free exercise approach would protect all religious communications between the leaders of a house of worship and its members from the reach of the prohibition under both the First Amendment and RFRA.

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It should be well noted that JUDAS ISCARIOT tried to use Jesus' ministry as a platform for political and military uprise.
He was in extreme error to say the least.

Jesus rebuked Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane for trying to use force on Jesus' captors putting to rest any misconceived notions that this was some uprising.

There are many other examples where Jesus went to great lengths to distance himself and his ministry from being considered political or military.
I am sickened by many things in the pulpit and find this "vain revolution for political freedom of speech" particularly irreprehensible and contrary to the teachings and overall impetus of Jesus' ministry.

As a sideline note I would also like to point out that none of the candidates are running for office of priest or pastor.
To criticize one politician for being "pro choice" or in favor of stem cell research while giving full support to a candidate who advocates fully the use of war, torture, and nuclear armament not only for defense but also as a " first strike" option, is garbage and contradicts all that Jesus came to establish as his message and legacy.

I would like to add another thought that sacrificing a church's tax exempt status is extremely irresponsible when considering that the minister is being entrusted with money that did not come from him nor belongs to him.
(see all the biblical listings for stewardship).

I would like to charge and challenge all elders and/ or board members to challenge and rebuke your pastor if you feel he is abusing his post of shepherd for the sake of spewing politically in a place that should bring respite from all of this rather than becoming a platform for it.

Remember...America is a democratic republic with the first amendment to the constitution protecting in large part our freedom of speech...

God's Kingdom is NOT a democracy but an absolute monarchy with one true king and emperor.
Jesus NEVER used His authority or exclusive privileges as God's Son to advocate or support any political or military entity.
We need to remember which kingdom we are in and which King we serve.


Posted by: chris | Nov 7, 2008 7:26:38 AM