Modern myths are often termed “urban legends.” We’ve heard the term applied when someone references “alligators in the sewers” of New York City, Bigfoot or Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest, or the “Mothman” of New England, along with a host of other seemingly unbelievable incidents. Sometimes, myths or legends involve a particular activity that can or cannot be done that is based more on vague supposition, conjecture or innuendo. One of the myths most recently encountered comes from various pastors in various churches when approached about teaching, educating and discussing the Constitution in relation to the Bible in a study group of congregation participants. The pat answers are “We can’t do anything political since we would lose our tax-exempt status so we need to be careful” or “I don’t preach anything political just the Word of God as He inspires me and it’s left to those hearing the message what God is saying to them.”
At the weekend long event “Restoring Unity” held by Glenn Beck, Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal firm, sought to dispel the “myths” of what the Church can and cannot do regarding political activity as he spoke to an assembly of pastors. His comments regarding “politics in the pulpit” come one year after the atheist group Freedom from Religion Foundation “waged a war against the IRS, claiming that the tax authority has not been holding churches accountable to rules restricting politics from the pulpit.”
“If we look at churches, churches are unique entities — churches are different than any other non-profit organization,” he said. “You don’t have anything to fear about speaking out.”
Staver outlined what pastors and churches can and cannot do when it comes to political activity.
Churches, and pastors, can lobby. Churches are not prohibited from speaking out against or in support of specific legislation. According to Staver, “No church in the history of America has ever lost its tax-exempt status for lobbying.”
He indicated that churches were limited under IRS rules regarding political endorsements. Staver stated, “You can’t say, ‘This particular church by name supports or endorses this particular candidate’.” He again noted that no church in American history has lost its tax-exempt status.
Pastors can preach on any topic present in the Bible “from the pulpit.” With that said, Staver indicated churches or houses of worship can “offer valuable voter information about candidates and incumbents, including inviting those individuals to speak to congregations about their personal faith and experiences.”
“You can explain their positions,” he said. “You can [hold] a candidate forum. It doesn’t matter whether they all come, you just invite them all.”
Churches can even register individuals to vote since it is not considered a political act.
“Dispel the myth that you’re going to lose your tax-exempt status,” he said.
At the heart of this debate rests the Johnson Amendment — an IRS code added in 1954, strengthened in 1987, that precludes non-profit organizations, which includes churches, from engaging in campaign activities. The addition in 1987 clarified that restrictions on campaign activity included “statements and stances that rail against candidates” in addition to those supporting candidates.
According to the IRS website:
Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.
On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.
Based on the information provided by Staver and the examples on the IRS website, learning about the Constitution, educating individuals on the provisions in the Constitution and its relation to the Bible is anything but political campaign activity. In order to understand each branch of the federal government and their functions, one needs to read and study the Constitution, while using references to impart the Founders’ intent of the clauses and the authors’ intent related to the amendments — the 14th amendment is a good example of one that was perverted from the author’s original intent. Only by doing that will individuals understand what constitutes a piece of legislation as constitutional or unconstitutional and recognize usurpations of power and unconstitutional activity by each branch of government. The Declaration of Independence added to the study presents both founding documents that provide a framework for our nation.
It sounds a lot like the “civics” classes many had in high school. Yet, somehow, many pastors, or as some say “pastures,” identify this activity as political in nature that would jeopardize their tax-exempt status. Challenging their stance gets one a look as though you are the spawn of Satan, spewing green acid vomit while your head spins around as you rise in the air. These “pastures” and their congregation have little difficulty sending their children to the government indoctrination centers disguised as schools to receive an anti-theist education — an education where history is skewed, the Constitution and its meaning butchered, Christianity relegated to non-existence while promoting the false religion of Islam, and the Founding Fathers labeled as “terrorists” and “old white men” with antiquated views of freedom and liberty. The indoctrination of their children to accept a one-world government, violation of freedom and liberty and eradication of God-given rights is acceptable while teaching the Constitution from a Biblical standpoint is “political.”
Even with teaching the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, there will always be those who refuse to accept anything but what government tells them. However, there is the possibility that reaching one individual leads to reaching others and so on. Some pastors view this as advocating revolution, meaning going against the government, which is the furthest from what it is. It is a revolution in the sense of reversing the false teachings that have resulted in subjugating the people to comply with tyranny and to provide a new direction toward restoring freedom. In order to preserve what we have in this nation and reverse the trend toward subjugation, tyranny and despotism, education is the first step — a long overdue one.
Some churches can open their doors to “civic” organizations to make “use” of the facilities for their agenda, such as the church in Miami hosting Louis Farrakhan, yet deny sponsoring a teaching activity or providing a teaching activity to learn the basics of our founding documents. Hosting civic organizations to use the church facilities, as in Miami, rings more of a political activity and association than an educational activity would. Are we not judged by the company we keep and measured according to our associations?
Hopefully, many pastors will be “educated” by Mr. Staver and pass their knowledge on to others. It will be interesting to see if any act on the knowledge received. It all boils down to reconciling government with the Bible. For how can anyone call himself or herself a “pastor” and a Christian when supporting the government eradication of God-given unalienable rights through coercion, silence and abiding by immoral “opinions”?