Atheist group gets green light to sue IRS over 'politicking' churches

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has won an initial victory in a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service, but it may be a short-lived victory.

Wisconsin-based FFRF sued in that state to force the IRS to enforce the Johnson Amendment, which requires pastors and other tax-exempt groups to be silent in terms of endorsing political candidates.

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Erik Stanley tells OneNewsNow the atheist organization won an initial ruling allowing the IRS lawsuit to proceed.

Stanley, Erik (ADF)“But I would be surprised if they're ultimately successful,” says Stanley, noting that the federal judge “expressed some doubts” about whether the atheist group could obtain the relief it was seeking in the courts.  

 “This is really an unprecedented lawsuit,” says Stanley, “and I'd be surprised if it's ultimately successful.”

The co-president of the FFRF, Annie Laurie Gaylor, said in statement that the “free ride for churches is over,” referring to their tax-exempt status, and claimed that if churches are allowed to engage in “tax-exempt politicking,” it “would be the ruination of our democracy.”

Elsewhere in her statement, the atheist leader claimed that “the rest of us pay so much more in taxes because clergy pay so much less,” apparently unaware that many pastors are considered self-employed. The self-employment tax in 2013 is 15.3 percent of income.

Stanley says the lawsuit is a misdirected effort by FFRF to permanently deny pastors and non-profits freedom of speech.

“That's really what Freedom From Religion Foundation is after. They do not want pastors to be able to speak freely from their pulpit,” says Stanley. “They want government control over the pulpits of America. That's not freedom from religion. That is hostility to religion by the government.”

ADF has conducted “Pulpit Freedom Sundays” since 2008 in which pastors are encouraged to speak from the pulpit about political issues and candidates.

The IRS has yet to challenge the churches, but if they do ADF has pledged to defend them and challenge the constitutionality of the Johnson Amendment. 

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSBRIEF

SUBSCRIBE

VOTE IN OUR POLL

What factor in the 'Brexit' vote most closely aligns with the concerns expressed by Donald Trump?

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

Trans-Atlantic Trend? Trump sees UK vote as validation
House ethics panel finds no wrongdoing by GOP Rep. Buchanan
Latest: Obama says UK committed to orderly transition
Judge: Lawyers can have Michael Brown juvenile records
Bermuda voters reject same-sex 'marriage' in non-binding vote
Clinton's State Dept. calendar missing scores of entries
14 people have died in West Virginia flooding
Trump, in Scotland, links Brexit vote to his campaign

LATEST FROM THE WEB

At least 23 dead in West Virginia floods, official says
US media ignores Obama's role in Brexit disaster
Brexit vote: 5 things to know about UK leaving EU
Kansas lawmakers pass school funding fix to avert shutdown
When the mobs come -- will you be prepared?

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day

REASON & COMPANY

NEXT STORY
Even after court ruling, couple still awaits adopted daughter

Weeks after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in their favor, Matt and Melanier Capobianco of South Carolina are still awaiting legal custody of their adopted child.