Atheist group wants IRS to cull free speech

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

pastor at pulpitDespite what the Constitution says about religious speech, an atheist group is seeking a gag order in federal court to silence pastors in the U.S.

Freedom from Religion Foundation is upset because an executive order from President Trump blocks the IRS from enforcing the Johnson Amendment against pastors and churches. The Amendment prohibits all 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

Daniel Blomberg, an attorney with Becket, is representing three pastors who want freedom of speech and religion. Becket is a nonprofit religious freedom and educational institution.

"The IRS has been extremely explicit that the [Johnson] rule applies to sermons – but it has never actually enforced the rule against sermons," the attorney tells OneNewsNow. "Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit demanding that the IRS put up or shut up."

gavel with Bible 1The Trump executive order protects the tax-exempt status of churches, but not other tax-exempt organizations. Blomberg contends FFRF wants the court to invalidate the Constitution.

"We're talking about a pastor's sermon [delivered] to his own congregation during a religious worship service," he explains. "And if there's one place in all of American society where reasonable people should be able to agree that we don't want the state intruding, it's in the middle of religious teaching at a religious worship service."

FFRF is calling on the government to be the final arbiter of what a pastor can and cannot say, but a reading of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution would say that's forbidden territory for the government. A court decision is pending.

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