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At Least Two California Pastors Want Taxpayers to Subsidize their Political ActivitiesYesterday, organized by the Christianist Alliance Defense Fund, 33 pastors across the country defied U.S. tax law, hoping to set up a court challenge regarding the prohibition restricting tax-exempt churches from endorsing political candidates:
"Johnson and 32 other pastors across the country set out Sunday to break the rules, hoping to generate a legal battle that will prompt federal courts to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.
The ministers contend they have a constitutional right to advise their worshipers how to vote. As Johnson put it during a break between sermons, "The point that the IRS says you can't do it, I'm saying you're wrong.""Ministers have every right to advise their worshipers how to vote, provided they don't seek to wave their tax liability as a political organization. This is the standard for all supposedly charitable organizations seeking tax-exempt status, not just churches. Here's the relevant tax code:
"In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."
It is not the role of the government to subsidize house churches of political parties.
The persecution complex evident in this action spread to at least two pastors in California, one of whom is doggone unhappy:
"I am angry because the government and the IRS and some Christians have taken away the rights of pastors," Drake said to about 45 people at his service. "I have a right to endorse anybody I doggone well please. And if they don't like that, too bad."
If you wish to evade taxes, that comes with a price: like all charitable organizations, you can't function as a political organization. Your rights are no more taken away than any other organization on this list. But please, I encourage open defiance on this matter. The law is weekly abused at churches across the country, but the visibility of this campaign will hopefully force the IRS's hand. They have promised to "monitor the situation and take action as appropriate," and appropriateness is rather clear under the law.
Image courtesy Say Cheese.
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