The Battle for Americas Soul: Pastors Take Politics to the Pulpit

Oct 29, 2004

Orlando, Florida: On the eve of the next Presidential election, America prepares to draw lines in the sand about where she stands on political, military, and social issues. However, the heart of this election and the major division in America that has split her right down the middle has been caused by social issues. Where candidates stand on topics such as same-sex marriage and abortion, have played a significant a role in this political divide.

Recognizing the need for moral and spiritual guidance on these social issues, pastors across America have been mobilizing their congregations to vote in order to win the cultural war in which America is engaged. History shows that pastors and churches should not be intimidated by baseless threats seeking to silence them. Since 1934, when lobbying restriction was added to the Internal Revenue Code, 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.

This Sunday, like any Sunday, pastors may preach on such issues as traditional marriage, abortion, and a Christian’s duty to vote and elect godly leaders who will respect Christian values. Churches may distribute voter guides and may register people to vote in those states where registration remains open. Although the IRS has published a guide stating that a pastor’s personal endorsement of a candidate from the pulpit is considered the church’s endorsement, that opinion has never been enforced, nor do I believe it would be constitutional. When a pastor preaches about political/social issues in the pulpit, the IRS has no business on the platform monitoring the sermon. A pastor can reveal personal beliefs and opinions to the congregation so long as the church corporate body does not expressly endorse a candidate. And, even if the line were accidentally crossed, next Sunday begins a new week. So long as the church does not continue to endorse or oppose candidates, it remains tax-exempt. Churches, unlike other nonprofit corporations, don’t need a letter of approval from IRS to be tax-exempt. Churches are tax-exempt under the Code from the moment of conception. Mat Staver has written an informative article about this subject entitled, Pastors, Churches and Politics. To obtain a copy visit Liberty Counsel’s web site at www.lc.org.

Mathew Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel stated, “I am pleased to see that pastors have finally thrown off their muzzles and replaced 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. This is the most important Presidential election this generation has seen. The next President may potentially appoint several Supreme Court Justices. Traditional marriage and the brutality of abortion hangs in the balance. With so many issues before the Court, such as what constitutes marriage and when does life begin, there has never been a better time for the spiritual leaders of America to become actively engaged in the political process.”

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