Whining aside, religious groups already have far too much power and infuence on the political process -- this is the last thing the country needs. The solution to this problem is simple: get rid of the tax exemption for churches.
Pastor Jody Hice of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Bethlehem, Ga., said in an interview Sunday that his sermon compared Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain on abortion and gay marriage and concluded that McCain "holds more to a biblical world view."
He said he urged the Southern Baptist congregation to vote for McCain.
"The basic thrust was this was not a matter of endorsing, it's a First Amendment issue," Hice said. "To say the church can't deal with moral and societal issues if it enters into the political arena is just wrong, it's unconstitutional."
At the independent Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla., pastor Paul Blair said he told his congregation, "As a Christian and as an American citizen, I will be voting for John McCain."
"It's absolutely vital to proclaim the truth and not be afraid to proclaim the truth from our pulpits," Blair said in an interview.
Because the pastors were speaking in their official capacity as clergy, the sermons are clear violations of IRS rules, said Robert Tuttle, a professor of law and religion at George Washington University. But even if the IRS rises to the bait and a legal fight ensues, Tuttle said there's "virtually no chance" courts will strike down the prohibition.
"The government is allowed, as long as it has a reasonable basis for doing it, to treat political and nonpolitical speech differently, and that's essentially what it's done here," Tuttle said.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Pastors Who Want to Eat Their Cake and Have it Too
In case you missed it, yesterday was "Pulpit Freedom Sunday", a protest by church leaders looking to defy the IRS's edict against political endorsements: