Pastors Preaching Politics From Pulpit - WSET.com - ABC13

Pastors Preaching Politics From Pulpit

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Lynchburg, VA - Election Day is just around the corner and as candidates are campaigning, and they may have a little help from an unexpected platform. It could be your local pastor.

The group Alliance Defending Freedom is behind a campaign called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, asking pastors to preach politics from the pulpit on October 7.

In 1954, the Johnson Amendment prohibited churches from endorsing, or opposing, political candidates.

More than 1,000 pastors, including Pastor Carl Weiser at Hyland Heights Baptist Church in Rustburg, are challenging the IRS to take them to court over the amendment.

The group Alliance Defending Freedom says it's the pastor's job, not the IRS, to determine what is said from the pulpit. The group is also asking pastors to send their sermons to the IRS, in hopes a court battle ensues.

They want the courts to make a decision, once and for all, whether this amendment is constitutional.

Liberty Counsel says they often look into cases where groups, such as the ACLU, threaten legal action against churches, but they say these threats are often just scare tactics.

"Pastors retain the first amendment rights of anybody to speak on various issues, specifically to speak as to what God's word says," said Richard Mast, Litigation Council for Liberty Counsel.

"The law should be enforced equitably against churches and any other tax exempt non-profits that intentionally break the law, said Claire Gastañaga, executive director of ACLU of Virginia.

The penalty if one of these churches were to lose in a court battle, would be that the church could lose their 501(c)3 tax filing status.

 

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