Freedom in the pulpit

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is warning churches and pastors that they must abide by federal law as Election Day approaches, but one attorney says the 60,000 churches and religious organizations that have received the letter shouldn't be afraid.

Stanley, Erik (ADF)Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom says Americans United is trying to frighten churches into silence about elections and "moral and biblical issues confronting the candidates."

"But the reality is that no pastor should ever fear the IRS or Americans United for that matter when they stand in their pulpit to preach biblical truth," Stanley asserts. "That's our message, and … no church or pastor should be afraid of these letters that are being sent out by Americans United."

The letter cites the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches or pastors from endorsing candidates from the pulpit. If they do so, under that amendment they risk the threat of losing their tax-exempt status.

"It's very ironic that a group with 'separation of church and state' in its name is arguing for more governmental monitoring and control of churches. That's not the separation of church and state. These letters are nothing more than intimidation tactics," Stanley contends. "But churches must not be afraid. They need to stand and proclaim biblical truth during this election season, and there's nothing wrong with doing so."

The ADF attorney goes on to argue that the Johnson Amendment is "blatantly unconstitutional," and he notes the upcoming Pulpit Freedom Sunday -- a day in which pastors are encouraged to speak out for biblical principles. Any pastor challenged for doing so will be offered the legal representation of Alliance Defending Freedom.

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