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:

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.

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.


Vicki Cana said...

"Pastors who want to ..." truly irritate me. As a christian, I don't want anyone telling me how to vote, subtly or otherwise. Teach the biblical truths and let the congregation (me) decide how to interpret them in my life. After all, God did/does give freedom of choice. This blind robotic mentality that some 'spiritual' leaders espouse really tick me off.

Actually,I'm inclined to agree with you about taxing churches.

Sean said...

I'm a Bible believing person, but this deeply worries me. Our Founding Fathers set up a style of government based on separation of church institutions and state institutional power, Because they remember the hundreds of years of religious wars waged for political reasons at the behest of both Catholic and Protestant denominations. That's why many of us are here, out ancestors wanted to escape from that garbage. Why would they want to blur the lines again and subject us to it. That is truly unconstitutional.

The role of the state is to only do that which supports it's best interest gay people will be gay and women will get abortions (legally or illegally) whether these "Christians" want them to or not.

We should tax these Religious Right clowns for wanting to use their influence to throw the elections. Just because a pastor says something is right or wrong doesn't make it so. Like I said I'm a Bible believing person and I don't agree with their political stances on these issue. Because they shouldn't be political to begin with. Just another case of the Conservative Right using its 1st Amendment Rights to impose its 'values' upon everybody else.