A Montana pastor has won his case against a state law designed
to remove pastors from the political process, giving one attorney
hope that similar laws will soon be deemed "outdated and
Pastor Calvin Zastrow was arrested on a trespassing charge after
refusing to leave a location where he was trying to convince voters
they had a duty as Christians to support pro-life initiatives and
candidates. The charge was dismissed, but he sued over a 1913 law
that could still be used against pastors -- a law a federal
court has now ruled unconstitutional.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Erik
Stanley says the incident could clear the way for dealing with
similar unconstitutional laws that restrict pastors' speech.
"We're happy that this
Montana censorship law has been struck down because it's blatantly
unconstitutional to stop pastors and churches from being involved
in the political process," he remarks.
"This law seems like it's an outdated, outmoded law that was
never enforced, and it's good to know that it's now
unconstitutional and off the books."
The law is similar to the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which
threatens the tax-exempt status of churches that endorse
"I would like to see the Johnson Amendment go the way of this
Montana law and be known as an outdated, outmoded attempt to get
churches to be silent during election season and that it's
blatantly unconstitutional," Stanley tells OneNewsNow.
"Pulpit Freedom Sunday" was this past weekend,
and 1,586 pastors defied the IRS by preaching a biblical stance on
social issues and candidates. If necessary, Alliance Defending
Freedom is prepared to take the IRS to court to gain the freedom of
speech for pastors.