A hot keyword search in Google today is “skyline wesleyan church”, which displays results that include a post in our blog that Ken wrote back in June. The post includes a quote from the controversial pastor of the Skyline mega-church and his anti-gay marriage stance.
However, today’s search is regarding a new story in which a group of 1000 pastors plans to defy IRS regulations prohibiting tax-exempt churches from involvement in political campaigns by telling their parishioners who to vote for in sermons that will take place on October 7th. They’ll surely use the semantic argument that they’re just “endorsing” candidates and parishioners are free to vote for whomever they chose, but endorsing a political candidate is still illegal for non-profits. Their legal counsel is using the same sideways argument used after the Issa panel debacle that made Sandra Fluke a household name: “religious freedom”.
The purpose is to make sure that the pastor — and not the IRS — decides what is said from the pulpit.”
Fact-is, no one in the IRS is deciding what is said from the pulpit of their churches. The federal tax code is law written by Congress and the IRS must enforce the law. Churches receive special tax relief (which in my opinion, should have been revoked after the first child was raped) while the rest of us must pay our full share of taxes. In exchange for this special, tax-free status granted by Congress, religious leaders must stay out of politics. Its fair and it only makes sense; why should the left half of the country have to pay these churches in the form of tax breaks if they are going to campaign for candidates on the right? If that’s the case, then the left deserves an equal right to tax-exempt status for organizations that will campaign for candidates on the left. How would these conservative pastors feel about tax-exempt status for labor unions? What about activists for minority rights? LGBT rights?
These 1000 pastors can either play by the rules that apply to all non-profit charities and churches or they are free to give-up their tax-exempt status and preach politics and endorse candidates until the end of time.