Next Sunday, October 7, about a thousand preachers will violate the requirement they agreed to honor with the Internal Revenue Service by actively providing specific guidance about how to vote on issues and candidates. The yearly ritual started in 2008 to challenge the I.R.S. rules prohibiting campaigning from the pulpit, and it informs the callous disregard the preachers have for the law and financial gifts from American taxpayers. It is important to remember that these members of the clergy are leaders of their respective congregations, and in openly flaunting their contempt for the law, are using god to frighten their adherents to vote for, or against, specific candidates for political office, violate an agreement, and model dishonesty Jesus Christ forbade.
According to the agreement churches make with the IRS to receive their taxpayer subsidies, IRC 501(c)(3) “prohibits an organization from directly or indirectly participating in or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements (verbal or non-verbal) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of, or opposition to, any candidate for public office violates the prohibition against political campaign intervention.”
The ritual, Pulpit Freedom Sunday, is an ongoing attempt to challenge the law so evangelical Christians can do what they have been doing without fear of losing their tax payer subsidies, and despite the clergy’s contention, the law does not violate the preacher’s right to free speech or the religious content of their sermons. However, the approximately 1,000 preachers this year hope the IRS will revoke their tax-exempt status and allow them to take the case before the Supreme Court to begin imposing evangelical state-sponsored religious rules at the taxpayers’ expense. One of the sponsors of Pulpit Freedom Sunday explained why religious leaders have the right to disobey the law and breech their agreement with the government, and as usual, instead of the nation’s founding document (the Constitution), he cites evangelical’s law of the land; the Christian bible.