Beliefnet
Lynn v. Sekulow

The trends that Barry cited are interesting, but the Pew Research poll has other important findings that should be noted:

 

·         “Roughly comparable numbers say political leaders express their religious beliefs too much (29%), too little (36%) or the right amount (28%)”;

·         “Compared with 2004, there has been a slight increase among the public overall in the number saying there has been too little religious talk from politicians (36% now vs. 31% in 2004), and a ten point increase among Republicans taking this point of view (46% now compared with 36% in 2004)”;

·         Those who are comfortable with politicians discussing how religious they are still outnumber those who are not;

·         “An overwhelming majority of the public continues to say that it is important to them that a president have strong religious beliefs. More than seven-in-ten Americans express this opinion, and attitudes on this issue have not changed in recent years”;

·         “People who view a party as unfriendly toward religion tend to express unfavorable views of that party, while those who see a party as neutral or friendly toward religion are much more positively inclined toward that party overall”;

·         “As has been the case throughout the campaign, [religious group] engagement with the current election is considerably higher than in previous years. . . . This increased engagement cuts across most religious groups”;

·         “[T]here is little to suggest that social conservatives want religion to be a less important element in American politics”;

·         “Social issues, and especially the question of moral values, are more important for white evangelicals than for other voters: 77% say moral values will be very important to their vote, and 54% say this about abortion”;

·         “67% say they favor allowing churches and other houses of worship to apply, along with other organizations, for government funding to provide social services, such as job training or drug treatment counseling, to those who need them.”

 

Regarding the freedom of speech from the pulpit, a pastor or other leader of a house of worship should be accountable to God and his congregation for his speech, not the government. If a pastor is not comfortable discussing moral issues or political candidates, he is not obligated to do so. However, many religious leaders feel compelled to speak out about the moral issues of the day, and they should be able to support or oppose a political candidate, in their capacity as a pastor, based on where the candidate stands on those moral issues. The IRS has acted as the “speech police” for houses of worship for far too long.

 

One of this country’s most compelling calls to action came from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on July 4, 1965, when he said, “Legislation, executive orders, or judicial decrees will have to control the external effects of bad internal attitudes. Therefore, if we are to realize the American dream, we must continue to work through legislation. So it is necessary for Congress to pass meaningful legislation.”  (listen here)

 

So Barry, on the Sunday before the election, what if a Pastor says, “We all have a civic responsibility to vote. I believe that the issue of abortion is a moral and ethical one that you should consider when you are voting for a candidate. Our church generally shares a pro-life position, which means that we believe that an unborn baby is entitled to human dignity and constitutional protection. This Tuesday, vote your conscience.”

 

Barry, would the church violate IRS code section 501(c)(3)? Would it be constitutional for the IRS to review the church’s sermons and revoke their tax-exempt status due to the content of their speech?

 

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