Preachers will pay for pulpit politics

On âÄúPulpit Freedom Sunday,âÄù 33 ministers protested federal tax law by directly endorsing presidential candidates from the pulpit. Backed by an enthusiastic legal team at the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), ministers hope their behavior prods the Internal Revenue Service to enforce code barring tax-exempt, non-profit organizations from partaking in partisan political activities. The pastors overwhelmingly endorsed John McCain for president. ADF deems the IRS rule unconstitutional on free speech grounds. The churches involved should be aware they are on a holy rollercoaster crash course toward losing tax-exempt status, like the New York congregation who urged against voting for Bill Clinton in 1992 âÄî the only church ever to lose tax-exempt status for partisan politicking. ADF had hoped for broader involvement, but of the âÄúhundreds of ministers, rabbis and priestsâÄù ADF contacted, only a small, monochromatic bunch went forward. One of them, the Rev. Bob Beal of New Hampshire preached: âÄúHomosexuality, itâÄôs an abomination unto the Lord. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Sen. John McCain pretty much falls in line with what I believe what the word of God says.âÄù If religious leaders already have the right to preach the values and ideals from which church-goers often derive their vote, how necessary is the ability to preach a candidateâÄôs name? Critics of the ADF move âÄî including Catholic leaders âÄî highlighted the increased charity capabilities and outreach tax-exemption allows churches, and were unwilling to endanger it. Proponents like the Rev. Wiley Drake of CA see it differently: âÄúI have a right to endorse anybody I doggone well please.âÄù Indeed he does, itâÄôs America, but tax-exemption is a privilege, not a right. Ministers, at the very least, must hold their tongues at direct political endorsements, unless they want houses of worship to become PACs. PACs are taxable.