IRS Being Sued for Allowing Church Free Speech
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF, the national, non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin that promotes the separation of church and state and educates the public on matters relating to atheism, agnosticism and nontheism)—is now taking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to court over its failure to enforce electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations, calling it “a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and of FFRF’s equal protection rights.” In other words, the IRS is being sued for allowing churches their right to FREE SPEECH.
“As many as 1,500 clergy reportedly violated the electioneering restrictions on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012,” notes FFRF’s legal complaint.
According the FFRF, “The complaint also references “blatantly political” full-page ads running in the three Sundays leading up to the presidential elections by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.”
But unfortunately, FFRF does not understand the original intent of the First Amendment. The Establishment Clause states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The Establishment Clause was originally written to prohibit an established state (national) church, a government-sponsored denomination or specific religion like the Church of England—from which many of the original colonists had fled in order to seek religious freedom. The Founders wanted all denominations to be legally equal so religious freedom could fully flourish.
However, there is actually nothing in this clause that prohibits churches from expressing their political opinions. The First Amendment was designed to keep government out of the affairs of the church, not to keep the church out of the affairs of the government.
In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, President Thomas Jefferson responded to the Danbury Baptists’ concern that the government may someday wrongly believe it did have the power to regulate public religious activities, Jefferson wrote:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, …I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion of prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”
Jefferson argued that when the government left the church alone and did not force its citizens to be members of an official state church, religious freedom could flourish.
Before Jefferson’s “separation of Church and State” phrase became so distorted, many churches were indeed very involved in the political process. In his book, The Role of Pastors &Christians in Civil Government, David Barton writes:
“A sermon called the ‘Election Sermon’ was the longest traditional form of annual sermon in America. The first documented election sermon was preached in 1634 in Virginia, and for each year thereafter until the twentieth century, election sermons were preached in pulpits across America. Christians understood their dual citizenship. They were indeed citizens of heaven, but they were also citizens of earth. God had placed them here in America with a stewardship government that belonged to “We the People,” so what did God expect from them in their stewardship capacity concerning the civil government that He had given them? What did He expect from them in the selection of their leaders? What did the Scriptures teach about the election process? For almost three centuries, this was a topic addressed annually in the pulpits across America.”
While FFRF claims 1500 churches were in violation of the Establishment Clause this past October, FFRF is actually violating their First Amendment rights with this ridiculous lawsuit. By compelling the government to get involved with the affairs of churches (including their political opinions), the FFRF is attempting to compel the government to interfere with Free Speech of all churches (well, except for theirs).
To be honest, I personally don’t care what discussions FFRF or any other secular (godless) group chooses to have at their own “church” services (I embrace FREE SPEECH of others, even if I don’t care for their opinions). They can talk politics all they want if they like. So, why should these groups care what my church discusses on Sunday mornings? When they try to influence the government to silence my own priest or preacher at the pulpit, they are violating his First Amendment rights. I’m an adult. If I don’t like what he says, I’ll simply go to another church. I don’t need the government to try and silence him. Neither should these secular groups.
Unfortunately, FFRF’s attempt to stifle the First Amendment doesn’t end with the lawsuit against the IRS. FFRF is now requesting that President Obama remove the phrase “so help me God” or any other biblical phrase from his inauguration speech on Jan. 21, 2012.
FFRF has also been very busy attempting to eliminate religious symbols from the public eye, including a Latin cross that has been displayed in an Illinois village for nearly 35 years. The village’s water tower is infamous for having this Christmas cross displayed throughout the holiday season. But, Mayor Patrick Kitching posted a letter on the village’s website during the week of Nov. 18: “A tradition for almost 35 years here in the Village of Alsip is coming to an end. You will notice this year our holiday decoration on the West Water Tower (Holiday Cross) will not be erected nor lit.”
In recent years, FFRF has been very successful at influencing the government to establish its religion as the government-endorsed denomination. It appears the FFRF has been pretty successful at establishing the National Church of Secularism (godlessness), violating the free exercise of my religion at its every opportunity.
Many churches are now realizing that secular groups (like FFRF) are on the rise and gaining powerful influence in the civil government. Unfortunately, the objective of these secular groups is to ultimately remove from government any sense of accountability to God for its actions. It’s no wonder so many churches and religious organization are speaking out and get more involved in the political process these days.
The entire purpose of government is to protect the rights that are given to us by our Creator (including right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.). So, as these secular groups are successfully gaining influence in our government, we can see how our rights are steadily dwindling.
The more government becomes secularized (godless), the less government officials feel accountable to God to “secure” the precious rights of their people, including the right to Free Speech.
The Bible says that government is “God’s servant for your good” (Romans 13:4), but how can government officials effectively serve God if churches are no longer allowed to teach what they believe God expects from them? The Bible says that government officials are sent “to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good (1 Peter 2:14), but how can they do that if the church is no longer allowed to give advise on what is “good” and what is “evil”?
Psalms 33:12 declares: “Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord.”
This nation has been blessed from its beginning, and if America does not stay blessed, it will be because Christians did not stay involved. Stay involved, my siblings!