Atheist organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) certainly believes so. In fact, in a lawsuit Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Koskinen, the FFRF accused the IRS of failing to investigate churches the way this atheist group would like the government agency to do. FFRF is attempting to use the IRS as a weapon against Christianity. The organization wants Bible believers to shut up. Period.
What’s more troublesome is that in a recent settlement agreement, the IRS has actually agreed to begin keeping a closer eye on pastors and churches for political speech. The IRS has also presented a letter to the Justice Department that states 99 churches “merit high priority for examination.”
The Christian Post reported:
“The Internal Revenue Service has reached a lawsuit settlement agreement with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, agreeing to investigate churches that violate a federal law that activist groups often cite in an attempt to silence them by threatening their tax-exempt status.”
Following the agreement settlement, FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor stated, “This is a victory, and we’re pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions.”
And, who determines what is ‘political speech’ these days, anyway? The IRS? FFRF? CAIR? After all, simply stating that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins (the very heart of the Gospel) is already politically incorrect and extremely offensive to many. It’s no wonder the FFRF wants to turn belief (in God) into a political issue—it allows them to use government force to silence believers altogether.
Erik Stanley, an attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom recently said,
“Every American should fear an IRS that uses its vast power to target, threaten, and punish political opponents,” he added. “Churches have succumbed to this regime of fear for the last 60 years under the Johnson Amendment, which was added to the tax code specifically to silence speech a politician didn’t like.”
The 1954 Johnson Amendment prohibits tax-exempt organizations (including churches) from endorsing or opposing political candidates.
Stanley’s organization is opposed the Johnson Amendment and the IRS crackdowns on pastoral speech from the pulpit. Yet, the Alliance Defending Freedom is not the only organization standing up against FFRF and the IRS’s violation of free speech. Many churches are also standing up and exercising their First Amendment rights.
As Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, explains:
“Since biblical times, spiritual leaders have boldly addressed the surrounding culture and that includes government, government officials and their public policies. Indeed, from the very beginnings of this nation, Patriot pastors were on the leading edge of shaping the public debate and the choices the public servants within the transcendent truths of Scripture…Fortunately, under the Constitution, we STILL have that freedom in America.”
Let’s keep it that way.
Perkins encourages pastors and churches to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday scheduled this year for October 5, 2014. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is a growing movement of pastors who preach Biblical Truth about candidates and elections from their pulpits.
Perkins also says, “Many churches and pastors have been bullied (by the IRS) into silence when it comes to preaching the whole counsel of God, as it applies to righteousness, just laws and electing godly leaders.” He adds, “What you preach from your pulpit is between you and God. It is to HIM that you will give an account, not the IRS. The IRS has no right to censor your sermons. Your God-given right as outlined in the FIRST AMENDMENT trumps any rule the IRS can use to try to silence you.”
Who are we supposed to obey: God or man?
In fact, government was actually God’s idea. He established civil government to be a minister– to reward good and to punish evil, and also to secure and protect the inalienable rights of the people (including free speech). And since the government is a servant of “we the people,” we (you and I) are to be involved in helping our government be the best minister God designed it to be.
But how do we do so if our spiritual leaders aren’t teaching us how? As Pastor Jim Garlow encourages fellow pastors and priests, “If we would all preach how to go into the voting booth without surrendering your Christian values, it might make a difference in this nation.”
Vote Biblically. Vote vertically. Vote the values of God.