Paul L. Caron

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thirty Churches to Endorse Presidential Candidate From Pulpit Today

The Alliance Defense Fund is sponsoring Pulpit Freedom Sunday today:

[F]or the last 54 years, out of fear of losing their tax-exempt status, our nation’s pastors and priests have largely remained silent. Rather than risk confrontation, pastors have often self-censored their speech, ignoring blatant immorality in government and too often pronouncing their aversion from speaking about public policy. Those pastors who have longed to be relevant to society, to preach the Gospel in a way that has meaning in modern America, have studiously ignored much that has gone on in every tumultuous election season lest they drew wrath from the IRS.

On Pulpit Freedom Sunday, pastors from 20 states will reclaim their constitutional right. From the pulpit, they will advise their congregation what scripture says about today’s issues apply those issues to the candidates standing for election just like their forefathers did for 150 years.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State opposes Pulpit Freedom Sunday and plans to report participating churches to the IRS.

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What happened to seperation of church and state? I really hope those churhes lose tax exempt status! Please somebody take this on!

Posted by: rose | Oct 20, 2008 4:22:17 PM

These churches take money from the poor to feed the glutonous preachers and their cronies. They should all be taxed.

Posted by: Rey | Sep 30, 2008 6:59:47 AM

It is sad that so many are ignorant of the extremely significant role of churches and pastors in fanning the flames of liberty necessary to give us this country. At the time, many were righteously vociferous and harshly critical of their own government. This government many of us who have come to despise for its ceaseless encroachment upon our liberty knows of this history. In order to maintain and expand powers it was never meant to possess, this government is determined to keep its People ignorant and religious leaders and institutions muzzled? Would we not be better served by our churches recinding their 501(c)3 nonprofit status and returning to their true purpose? Submission to God should come BEFORE submission to ungodly government?

Posted by: dicktater | Sep 29, 2008 6:57:25 PM

The ADF is a highly conservative Christian legal organization, which frequently aligns itself to Focus On the Family; I am sure at least 20 of the 30 (or perhaps, even all of these churches) are backing John McCain. Today, on NPR, the pastor they got backed McCain.

Posted by: leongcpa | Sep 29, 2008 1:11:25 PM

"(1) It's easy to be critical of the government while staying within the confines of the law. Really. Pick an issue and present your church's teaching on it. People are smart enough to figure out whom to vote for.

(2) The headline should read "Thirty Churches to Endorse Barack Obama," because that's unquestionably what will happen."

1. I agree.
2. The pastors would have been wise to have chosen Barack over McCain. McCain doesn't believe in himself, much less God. McCain recruited the less than qualified VP, Sarah Palin, in an effort to recruit the other idiot church members who think Jesus came and killed the dinosaurs and Creation is science.

Posted by: Right In Your Face Truth | Sep 29, 2008 7:35:38 AM

It was Lyndon Johnson, while still in the congress, who had a loathing for evangelical Christians. In short, he hated them and sought revenge. That is why we ended up with a law that was meant to stifle the first amendment rights of pastors everywhere.

I agree with those who have commented from experience. I have been a member of churches in four states. I have never heard a pastor come anywhere close to endorsing a candidate for any office. I happen to be Baptist, and we are obviously pro-life, but the pastor's opinions every election cycle are muted.

For those who don't believe that churches should be treated as 501(c)3 organizations, I have some advice. First, take away that same tax-exempt status from the thousands of left-wing organizations who hold it.

Then, if you think you have to go after the institutions that feed the poor, provide shelter to battered woman, build homes for the homeless and provide Christmas gifts to kids who would have no Christmas, then you can go after the churches.

Posted by: truthteller | Sep 28, 2008 11:40:27 PM

If a tax on political speech is to be collected it should be collected from everyone. And the tax should be limited to the moneys invested into that speech. Not taxing services to the poor.

Taxing of food donations that are given to the needy because a pastor said "I support Obama" is cruel and it defines the type of people who desire to do so.

I have linked to your post from Jeremiah Films' Pulpit Endorsements: The Sky Will Not Fall

Posted by: Wayne | Sep 28, 2008 10:31:04 PM

Professor Caron,

This is something that has bugged me for the longest time.
Why is it that churches are demanded to gag themselves,but organizations like SEIU that have the same tax exemption status are blanently allowed to campaign for the candidate of their choice?
It just bugs the h___ out of me.

Posted by: flicka47 | Sep 28, 2008 7:07:42 PM

I'm sorry, I didn't realize that the names of commenters are below their comments, not above, so the names in my earlier post are incorrect.

Also, I should clarify that I'm eager to see which candidate received the most endorsements today because the ADF's ideology doesn't necessarily translate into a slam-dunk for McCain.

Posted by: Alligator | Sep 28, 2008 5:28:22 PM

AMTbuff, Bob, and everyone else who thinks the Democrats are behind this: Are you familiar with the Alliance Defense Fund? In case you aren't, here's a little background:

"ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family." (Boilerplate from a press release on the ADF's web site, available at )

ADF issues:

Assuming (for the purposes of this argument) that the ADF has a partisan goal, it seems to me that the ADF wouldn't urge churches to endorse a candidate if it suspected that 2/3 of them would endorse the candidate who is least sympathetic to the ADF platform. (I say 2/3 in response to the assertion that 20 of the 30 churches would endorse Obama. I'm eager to see which candidate garnered the most church support today.

Posted by: Alligator | Sep 28, 2008 4:58:23 PM

It looks like a lot of tax professors must have been sleeping in con law. Isn't there something about separation of church and state there? And at least some conflict between religious freedom and tax subsidies for political activity?

Posted by: mike livingston | Sep 28, 2008 1:38:19 PM

I think it's high time churches (synagogues, mosques)are taxed. We are going to need the money to fund Barack's schemes.

Posted by: miriam | Sep 28, 2008 1:38:08 PM

"t's well past time to tax church organizations. They do nothing but feed fear and loathing of anyone who doesn't follow their narrow set of values and beliefs."

That sounds like a religious belief (defined as a belief concerned with the content and function of religion and society, whether advocating or objecting). So your reasoning that these taxes should be implemented is based on your beliefs about religion?

So be it, but then understand the legitimacy of those who conclude precisely the contrary, based on their beliefs about religion.

Posted by: rasqual | Sep 28, 2008 12:45:10 PM

It's time to seperate church monies. Tithes are business income and should be taxed. Money donated to go to specific missions and charity programs should be tax free, but only in the amounts dispersed. Any monies not dispersed within 3 months should be taxed as church income.

As we all know, there is nothing stopping preachers from spouting politics from the pulpit. If that is what the tithers want to hear, then they should be allowed to vote on whether to drop the church's tax free status.

Simple solution for a simple problem.


Posted by: Tired of the Noise | Sep 28, 2008 12:03:21 PM

I find it interesting that churches can endorse candidates. We have at every election cycle a letter read over the pulpit in our church. It declares the Church's neutrality, but encourages every member to do their duty, study the issues and vote. That's it. There is no endorsement. To watch some of these Church, particularly churches with primarily Black congregations have a political rally every week is absolutely amazing to me.

Posted by: Gregory G. Oman , DDS | Sep 28, 2008 12:03:15 PM

I would be fine with this but I smell a rat, a giant left wing highly organized pure evil steal the election by gaming the system Obama sized rat. That guy's just not happy if he's not winning by cheating. With this guy, all I keep saying is, "What's next?"

Posted by: bc | Sep 28, 2008 11:44:39 AM

Church leaders who believe that their members will be persuaded by an official endorsement of a political candidate have a very low opinion of their membership. If I were a member of such a church I'd be insulted.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Sep 28, 2008 11:31:42 AM

And I bet most of those "churches" will be endorsing Barack Messiah Obama.

Thoughout the last thirty years, I have attended any number of mainstream denominational and non-denominational Christian churches in Texas, California, Minnesota and now Illinois, and never once was a candidate ever endorsed explicitly or implicitly from the pulpit. Yet this kind of thing happens with some frequency in certain minority "churches" ... and the liberal Democrats merely wink at it since they benefit from it. How many Democrats have had their hands in the offering plate of these "churches"?

"Separation of church and state" (a total misreading of Jefferson singular missive in an 1802 personal letter to the Danbury Baptist ... Jefferson never attended a constitutional convention nor was he involved in passing the U.S. Constitution since he was an ambassador to France at the time) has always been used by atheist fundamentalists and nominal "Christians" as a club against mainstream Christendom. But with the rise of Islamism in America and the further radicalization of black churches in America, the left will continue to hypocritically look the other way when overt left-wing electioneering happens at these supposed houses of God.

How someone who sat for twenty years in the whacked-out, conspiracy-addled "church" of one "Reverend" Jeremiah Wright has gotten this close to the POTUS is almost beyond comprehension. The equivalent would be someone being a former member of a radical KKK church making an awfully convenient last minute conversion in hopes of burnishing their mainstream credentials having made it to the final round of the presidential race. Can you imagine how liberals would indignantly howl how such a person is simply unqualified to be POTUS coming from such a whacked out background? You know, the very "guilt by association" tactics they accuse conservatives of engaging in when we simply point out Obamessiah's long-term relationships with people like Weathermen Bill Ayers and black nationalist Jeremiah Wright (whose social gospel is little different than one Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam). Think about it.

Posted by: Hankmeister | Sep 28, 2008 10:43:19 AM

I doubt these churches are going to endorse Obama. If you look at the Alliance Defense Fund's web site, one of their central tenets is a pro-life position.

Given Obama's opposition to infanticide (aka partial birth abortion), I would be highly surprised if this initiative saw churches endorsing him.

Posted by: Bob | Sep 28, 2008 10:13:12 AM

Do ministers pay income tax? FICA? I don't know, but I don't see why they should not.

Churches have income (donations, investments, whatnot) and expenses (building maintenance, utilities, transportation, personnel, whatnot). Presumably, what is left over is 'profit'. And presumably, this is what would be taxed. For the mega churches, watch them engage in creative accounting.

The real issue here is property taxes. How do you evaluate the value of a religious building for property taxes?

Posted by: Half Canadian | Sep 28, 2008 9:54:45 AM

revantive, would that include the churches pastored by Reverend Wright? or MLK?

Posted by: SDN | Sep 28, 2008 8:42:47 AM

(1) It's easy to be critical of the government while staying within the confines of the law. Really. Pick an issue and present your church's teaching on it. People are smart enough to figure out whom to vote for.

(2) The headline should read "Thirty Churches to Endorse Barack Obama," because that's unquestionably what will happen.

Posted by: AK | Sep 28, 2008 8:13:34 AM

Be interesting to see if all these churches take the right to life path that they all teach

Posted by: sigmoidal | Sep 28, 2008 8:12:40 AM

It's well past time to tax church organizations. They do nothing but feed fear and loathing of anyone who doesn't follow their narrow set of values and beliefs.

Church organizations are essentially advertising agencies, and should be treated accordingly. Evangelical church leadership are often found driving nice, upscale cars, live in nice houses with amenities that make Jesus blush, and draw six-figure (or more) salaries for both themselves and the folks (often family members) who serve in the inner circles. It is a total scam bought and paid for by donations from people who can barely afford to tithe. This has been going on for centuries, and that's why many of our Founding Fathers (such as Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry) advocated for the complete separation of Church and State.

However, given the dominance of Christianity (and its derivatives) have essentially place a religious test for our current leaders. Would an atheist (or perhaps a Hindu follower) reach the Presidency? In today's political environment I would have to say no. However Article 6 of our constitution states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States". Essentially that means that anyone can become president on paper, but the reality is that you must be a christian (or at least talk like one) to sit in public office because of the dominance of a religion as morality view of the world.

If we're going to allow this kind of political dominance, we must take steps to keep religion in its rightful place.

Posted by: revenantive | Sep 28, 2008 8:12:27 AM

As long as the churches endorse Obama, they have nothing to worry about.

Posted by: AllenS | Sep 28, 2008 7:39:14 AM