FFRF challenging pastors' free speech

Thursday, November 15, 2012
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sued the Internal Revenue Service in an effort to force the agency to crack down on churches.

Churches increasingly have spoken out on social issues, including those on the ballot, and some pastors endorsed candidates leading up to the election, even though the Johnson Amendment prohibits them from doing so.

Stanley, Erik (ADF)"Well, I think this is just further evidence that groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation or Americans United for Separation of Church and State are trying to use the Johnson Amendment in the tax code as a tool of intimidation to silence and censor churches," contends Erik Stanley, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation argues that churches and religious organizations have become more involved in political campaigns, "blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions."

The lawsuit, filed in Wisconsin, cites several examples, including full-page ads that ran this fall in The New York Times and other newspapers by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that featured a photo of renowned evangelist Billy Graham urging Americans to vote along biblical principles. Graham met in October with Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney and pledged to do "all I can" to help him.

Stanley points out that FFRF filed the lawsuit against the IRS in Wisconsin -- a politically liberal state.

"Well, the Freedom From Religion Foundation does like to file lawsuits in friendly forums, and so they may think that this court is going to be friendly or sympathetic to their pleas," Stanley asserts.

"But the fact of the matter is, this is really a nuisance lawsuit; it doesn't have any legal basis whatsoever," he continues. "The IRS cannot be forced to interpret the Johnson Amendment to apply it in a particular way that Freedom From Religion Foundation likes." 

But the ADF attorney concludes that one thing is for certain: the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional. And if the IRS files suit against a church, his organization, which has been encouraging pastors to challenge the measure (see earlier story), is prepared to go to court.

FFRF's lawsuit argues that the IRS is not enforcing the federal tax code, which prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering. The suit says not enforcing it is a violation of equal protection rights because the same preferential treatment is not provided to other tax-exempt organizations such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The lawsuit asks that the IRS initiate legal action against any churches or religious organizations that are believed to be violating the restrictions.


Associated Press contributed to this story

Consider Supporting Us?

The staff at Onenewsnow.com strives daily to bring you news from a biblical perspective. If you benefit from this platform and want others to know about it please consider a generous gift today.

MAKE A DONATION

Comments

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSBRIEF

SUBSCRIBE

VOTE IN OUR POLL

What's the big hold-up in 'draining the swamp'?

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

  GOP sets Senate health care vote buoyed by McCain return
  Trump asks about firing Sessions, calls his position 'weak'
Evangelical leaders rally around Kushner amid Russia probe
Immigrants wept, pleaded for water and pounded on the truck
Israel removes metal detectors from holy site entrance
In Google vs. the EU, a $2.7B fine could just be the start

LATEST FROM THE WEB

The truth about Southern black slave owners
The islamophobia industry killed Justine Damond
Sarah Huckabee Sanders called "butch queen" by Daily Beast writer and the left is silent
Post-Christian America: Gullible, intolerant, and superstitious
College official: Drop algebra requirement because minorities keep failing it

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day

REASON & COMPANY

NEXT STORY
Illegally imposed taxes threaten to close church

A small Arizona church is facing illegally assessed property taxes that would force it out of existence if paid.