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Preaching and presidential politics
Why 33 pastors are hoping for trouble from the IRS
 

A group of 33 ministers in 22 states agreed to endorse a presidential candidate from their Sunday pulpits, said the Las Vegas Sun in an editorial, to challenge a 1954 law that says nonprofits, including churches, lose their federal tax exemptions if they back candidates. The “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” organizers hope federal courts will say the law is an unconstitutional attack on free speech—the courts won’t, and they shouldn’t.

“The restrictions are a farce,” said E.J. Montini in The Arizona Republic, both because they “fly in the face of the Constitution” and “because they don’t work.” Pastors can make their choices clear without using names, and have always “had an impact on American politics.” Why make them hide in code words?

This protest is a horrible idea, not least because “pulpits are already free in this country,” said J. Brent Walker in Alabama’s Montgomery Advertiser. Preachers have wide latitude to “speak out” on political issues, so long as they’re not “electioneering.” There are constitutional rights to free speech and free religion, but not to freedom from taxes.

 

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