Religious leaders by the hundreds are daring the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to come after them for violating a government regulation that prohibits church leaders from endorsing political candidates.
Organizers are hoping that on October 7, more than 1,000 pastors will participate in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” during which they will tell their followers who they should vote for in November.
The event is intended to provoke the IRS into revoking the tax-exempt status of one or more participating churches, so that they can sue the agency in federal court. Organizers contend the IRS rule banning political endorsements violates the First Amendment rights of preachers, and should be thrown out.
Since 1954, the IRS has prohibited tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from publicly supporting campaigns. The IRS enforced the law under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, however since Barack Obama became president, the IRS has stopped enforcement. Oddly, the “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” movement was created in 2008 by the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom to oppose Obama’s candidacy.
It is estimated that the federal government loses $25 billion a year in revenue by allowing churches, mosques and synagogues to operate tax-free.
I’ve always been dubious about tax-exempt status for churches. When you see the soaring holy complexes that rival imperial palaces, preachers driving around extravagantly expensive cars, their wives dripping with jewelry and painted like the whore of Babylon, but saved by the blood, it looks like a heck of a good deal. As the Rolexes flash from the cuffs of the anointed while they condemn sinners and wheedle for dollars, I contemplate starting my own church. What a racket, I think, I could stand up there in the pulpit and berate others, tell them how to vote, tell them how to think. And have them pay me for the honor! Then give the finger to the IRS, wow. Dare them to tax me, create a mini-holy war of the IRS against Jesus Christ Almighty! That’s a losing battle for the government, surely. Everyone hates the IRS, but no one can defy them, except GOD!
I KNOW, I KNOW, there are good churches and good pastors. There are those truly called to serve and save. Tiny missions that feed and clothe the poor. Among the flock, however, are wolves-predators who crave power and influence. Those who enjoy shaping malleable minds and emptying the pockets of the penitent. Why should they enjoy the benefits of dodging Uncle Sam? If the bulk of tithes go to building vast empires of wealth funneled directly into the pockets of the charismatic leader, why should they not pay their fair share? Please feel free to share your thoughts.