T or F: Partisan politics have no place in pulpits

8201-pulpit-colonialJack Moline, of Interfaith Alliance, writes at Huffington Post:

Clergy can stand at the pulpit and say just about anything they want without government interference. The only thing they can’t do is make a political endorsement while they are on the clock. Most clergy, I am sad to say, have more to fear from their lay leaders than they do the government.

Those on the Religious Right know this as well as I do.

So what happens if a clergy member tells members of a faith community how to vote?


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  1. So what happens if a clergy member tells members of a faith community how to vote?
    Nothing. (Well…it would depend on the pulpit. I disagree wth Moline. If that was an Imam telling folks how to vote the way Christians do he’d be jailed. Guantanamoed. Disappeared. And Moline knows it.)

    But Christians are doing that now. They’ve been doing it forever. They spin it around a little bit to avoid drawing unwanted attention, but Christian churches and Christian religious organizations do whatever they damn well please without worrying about their tax exempt status.

    The IRS is never going to investigate any 501(c)(3) organization unless it has received a significant amount of complaints from the public or government officials of some sort. They have enough problems keeping the funding they have now. Do you seriously think they’re going to risk challenging Christian political activism?

    There’s only one way to make the system fair for everybody. Remove all automatic tax exemptions for churches. No more 501(c)(3) status without the same yearly reports, and filing fees, required of every other nonprofit in the country. Complete transparency. Just like any other business. No favoritism.

    1. That’s what makes me wonder about the discussion in general. Is there someone watching out with this? It’s obvious that it happens time and again. This would involve members speaking up and is there any motivation to do so? Other than your pastor wants you to vote for the candidate you don’t support?

      1. Nobody within that sphere wants to lose a revenue stream. Churches and religious organizations (501(c)(3)) don’t want to see contributions go elsewhere, (where they are tax deductible), and the IRS doesn’t want a neoliberal Congress inextricably linked to religion cutting its funding any further.

        So absent a significant…and I mean Significant…outcry from an entity or entities powerful enough to challenge those special interests in the pubic square, agents of neither Church nor State are going to act.

        Notice Moline’s article is little more than finger wagging. No actual solution to protecting of the integrity of the law…the 501(c)(3) rules…is offered. No mention is made concerning eliminating Church favoritism, the automatic exemption, and making churches responsible to the same rules that govern all other nonprofit organizations, (which is likewise routinely ignored…MoJo for example…but at least the paperwork exists if someone has the guts to make a challenge). Don’t want anybody thinking about that. Wouldn’t be prudent.

      2. Related…from WaPo:

        Conservative lawmakers went to the House floor to force a vote on the impeachment of Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, setting up a showdown that has pitted hard-right members against not only Democrats but also Republicans wary of a partisan battle weeks before the election. “The impeachment effort is rooted in the controversy over the IRS’s treatment of conservative nonprofit groups and the handling of subsequent congressional investigations,” Mike DeBonis reports.

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