Pastors Nationwide Observing ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ to Challenge Government Speech Restrictions

church pdNearly 1,500 pastors nationwide are expected to participate in an effort today that seeks to challenge government restrictions against political speech from the pulpit.

The effort is called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, and was organized by the Pulpit Initiative, a project of the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). As the seventh annual event of its kind, ADF is encouraging pastors to “speak truth into every area of life from the pulpit.”

Pastors from all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have committed to preach today about Biblical marriage as being solely between a man and a woman. ADF says that in doing so, “they will exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to engage in religious expression from the pulpit.”

“Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who oversees the observance. “Churches should be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to talk about. The IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status. There’s a growing chorus of pastors’ voices calling for a solution to this very real constitutional violation.”

“Churches don’t have to give up their freedom of speech to remain tax-exempt any more than they have to give up their protection against illegal search and seizure or any other protection in the Bill of Rights,” he added.

ADF says that one if its goals since the effort was established in 2008 is to have the Johnson Amendment struck down in the courts. The amendment, passed in 1954 and introduced by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, states that churches may not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

“The real effect of the Johnson Amendment is that pastors are muzzled for fear of investigation by the IRS,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Rather than risk confrontation, many pastors have self-censored their speech—afraid to apply the teachings of Scripture to specific candidates or elections. As in years past, the participants in Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2014 are taking a stand against being intimidated into sacrificing their First Amendment freedoms.”

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According to the documentary “A Defense of God’s Law,” the nation’s decision to allow tax exemption for churches was grounded in Scripture. It cites Ezra 7:24, which outlines, “Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.” Many pastors throughout history have preached on political matters, that is, until the last 60 years.

Some churches and non-profit organizations refuse to apply for 501 (c)(3) status because they would rather pay taxes than forfeit their freedom of speech.

“A church that voluntarily initiates an application to the state for corporate status expects ‘limited liability’ and ‘tax exemption.’ It in turn owes to the state its right to exist and prosper,” stated Art Fisher of Reformed Bible Church in Central Islip, New York, who has not applied for tax-exempt status for his congregation. “It is obvious that its legal status and that of its of its ‘flock’ has been drastically altered.”

“Why are the churches of today almost always found to be incorporated? Why would the churches elect to place themselves under such jurisdiction — to find regulation under governmental franchise preferable to their own Divine Law?” he asked. “Are they not in fact serving two masters?”

Over 3,500 pastors have signed an agreement since the launch of Pulpit Freedom Sunday stating that churches should have the freedom to preach about whatever they wish, including political matters.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday VNR from ADF Media Relations on Vimeo.

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  • MC

    The atheist crybabies are always screaming, “separation of church and state’, so, preachers can preach anything they like without Government interference. Sorry atheists, just following the rules.

    • James Grimes

      The Useless, unaffected by what takes place during worship, will cry “Foul!” These people look to be offended. Now, the topic of today’s messages is very necessary as so – called “Christians” will try to justify same – sex “marriage” with appeals to emotions (“Jesus loves everyone and would never condemn two people who love each other”, etc.) What they cannot do is to quote any Scripture that would justify such abomination.

      • MC

        LOL! Yes, I love to see them squirm trying to scripturally justify such sin. It’s like trying to justify adultery using Scripture, it’s illogical..

      • Gregory Peterson

        Spoken like the proslavery Evangelicals of my great grandfather’s day, in their opposition to abolitionism. You really don’t know how to think morally, do you?

      • James Grimes

        I heard two wonderful sermons on this topic yesterday. Same sex “marriage” is such a disgusting practice.

        • fruitcake555

          So is smoking a pipe. Which my friend is both disgusting AND gay.

      • L777

        Hey James have you heard what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah? God said homosexuality is a abomination and it is!!!

    • fruitcake555

      Oh yeah, great way of thinking. And when Islam takes over as the most popular religion
      in the Country, I’m sure you’ll be more than happy to allow them to preach politics as well.

      • MC

        I have no problem with them preaching politics from their alter and neither should you. Christians can preach anything they want in their Church, you guys aren’t the “Religion Police” even though you think you are. Your opinion about what the Church does is irrelevant.

  • MC


  • Jeff

    Tax the churches.

    • L777

      I have a better idea, lets tax your ass every time you take a dump, believe or not a politican wanted to do just that, so lets start with your ass

  • fruitcake555

    I am so sick of these people being tax-exempt and
    continuing to break the law… Just take away thier
    status and be done with it. And any politician that
    encourages anyone to break the law should also
    be held liable.

    • MC

      You don’t go to Church so it doesn’t concern you, it’s unconstitutional and the churches will win so you better start getting over it.

      • James Grimes

        MC, look at this guy’s comments. He is so pathetic that he has no clue as to what is really happening. In any event, there were some good sermons delivered on Sunday. The truth was proclaimed.

    • tmpy1

      most fitting username.

    • L777

      you are right, lets start with the phony POS Barry aka Obama, this pos has broken all of our laws and if this POS M.F has his way all of our rights will be taken away including yours you moron!!! Fruitcake, by the way are you a fruitcake? do you swings both ways? if you do, disgusting!!!! YUK!!!!

  • tmpy1

    This WAS October 5, 2014?

  • tmpy1

    When human law becomes perfect, there MIGHT be cause. Until that time, imperfect government needs to be held at bay. Original plan for U.S. government.