Pastors and Churches May Actively Support the Federal Marriage Amendment And State Constitutional Initiatives Designed To Preserve Traditional Marriage

Sep 13, 2004

Orlando, FL - Pastors and churches should not be intimidated by baseless threats seeking to silence them. They may actively support the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment and state initiatives designed to preserve traditional marriage. Liberty Counsel provides free representation to pastors and churches regarding political activity. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, represents Rev. Jerry Falwell and Dr. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of the 14,000 member First Baptist Church of Springdale, AR, against baseless complaints by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

History does not support the baseless threats hurled against conservative churches. Since 1934, when the lobbying restriction was added to the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), not one church has ever lost its tax-exempt status. Since 1954, when the political endorsement/opposition prohibition was added, only one church has ever lost its IRS letter ruling, but even that church did not lose its tax-exempt status. That case involved the Church at Pierce Creek in New York, which placed full-page ads in USA Today and the Washington Times opposing then-Governor Bill Clinton for President. The ads were sponsored by the Church and donations were solicited. The IRS revoked the Church’s letter ruling, but not its tax-exempt status. The Church sued, and the court ruled that churches are tax exempt without an IRS letter ruling. The Court noted that “because of the unique treatment churches receive under the Internal Revenue Code, the impact of the revocation is likely to be more symbolic than substantial.” Not even this Church lost its tax-exempt status, and not one donor was affected by this incident.

Pastors can preach on biblical and social issues, such as traditional marriage and abortion, can urge the congregation to register and vote, can overview the positions of the candidates, and may personally endorse candidates. Churches may distribute nonpartisan voter guides, register voters, provide transportation to the polls, hold candidate forums, and introduce visiting candidates.

On September 27 at 1:30 pm, Rev. Jerry Falwell is hosting a conference for thousands of pastors entitled “Politics and the Pulpit” during the Super Conference (September 26-29) on the campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Attorneys Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Mat Staver will be the featured speakers.

Staver, stated: “Pastors should throw away their muzzles and replace them with megaphones. It is far more likely to be struck by lightening twice than for churches to lose their tax-exempt status over political issues.” Staver’s recent article, “Pastors, Churches and Politics,” outlines in detail the permissible activities of pastors and churches. Free copies are available by calling Liberty Counsel at 1-800-671-1776 or visiting the web site.