With politics and religion intermingling quite a bit this campaign season, the Pew Research Center for Religion & Public Life decided to investigate how often pastors discuss politics and social issues from their pulpits. The results were pretty encouraging for those who believe churches should respect the law and stay away from activities designed to endorse or oppose candidates – but they also show there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reiterated his desire to change a federal law that prohibits houses of worship from endorsing candidates during his speech last night at the Republican National Convention (RNC).
“At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical community who have been so good to me and so supportive. You have so much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits.
The Republican Party platform approved yesterday includes a call for altering federal law to allow houses of worship to jump into partisan politics. This change threatens religious life in America, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The platform advocates repeal of the Johnson Amendment, a provision adopted by Congress in 1954 that prohibits 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organizations, including houses of worship, from intervening in partisan politics by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed an important appropriations bill (H.R. 5485) yesterday that will help fund the federal government for the next year. Tucked into this legislation are three troubling provisions that would weaken church-state separation and harm true religious liberty.
Some members of Congress are working to limit true religious freedom.
A private-sector committee that advises the Internal Revenue Service branch that oversees tax-exempt organizations says the IRS is “compromising its relevancy” by failing to revise the procedures that govern audits of churches.
In a lengthy report covering many areas of tax exemption, the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT) said last week that the IRS’s leadership has dropped the ball when it comes to policing houses of worship that violate federal law.
“If you are a Christian, you cannot support Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.…Both Hillary and Barack favor the shedding of innocent blood (abortion) and the legalization of the abomination of homosexual marriage,” Booth, senior pastor of Warroad Community Church in Minnesota, said at the time.
My name is Bill Mefford, and I am the new Faith Outreach Specialist for Americans United. I started in mid-March so I am still getting my feet wet, but I look forward to working with AU members as we mobilize faith communities to ensure that religious expression is maintained for all and not used to harm others.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump said recently that the Internal Revenue Service is targeting him because of his religious beliefs.
All high-profile presidential candidates are expected to release their tax returns at some point during the campaign, but Trump had not yet done so as of early March. He claimed he wasn’t able to because he is a frequent target of audits – although it’s unclear why that would prevent him making his returns public.
Some far-right Christians have a hard time obeying the law. Among them is Religious Right attorney Matt Barber, who really dislikes the idea of church-state separation and particularly has a bone to pick with the Internal Revenue Code’s prohibition against pulpit politicking by houses of worship.
In a recent column, Barber spouted the tired, old line that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ are found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution….”