This Sunday, many churches across the country will use their pulpits to openly challenge the Internal Revenue Service.
Pulpit Freedom Sunday is a day when Alliance Defense Fund encourages pastors to look at positions taken by candidates, evaluate them on the basis of the Bible, and then take a stand for or against the office seekers. The IRS has been more or less forbidding that for the past 50 years.
Kerion Theriot, an ADF attorney, explains the situation. “Since the Johnson Amendment was enacted back in the 50s, many pastors have avoided addressing any political topics whatsoever — and that has led to our country losing an important part of its moral compass; and that is what pastors have to say about candidates from behind the pulpit.”
Theriot says the pulpit is one of the places that has the most protection when it comes to free speech and freedom of religion in the country. “However, this is one small area that the government has decided that they’re going to interject and intervene and tell pastors what they can and can’t say to their congregation when they stand in the pulpit,” he comments.
If enough pastors follow what ADF is encouraging them to do this Sunday, Theriot is convinced the IRS and Congress might consider changing the situation.
“If we can get this before a court,” says Theriot, “the idea that the IRS is telling pastors what they can and can’t say from behind the pulpit, if we can get that before a court, we’re very confident that we will prevail because it’s clear that that violates the churches’ First Amendment rights — both the free exercise of religion and the right to free speech.”
This is the fourth year that Pulpit Freedom Sunday has been held and moer than 100 pastors have participated. To date the IRS has not challenged a single pastor.