Evangelical Churches Are Blatantly Violating The Law By Electioneering From The Pulpit


It is beyond refute that criminals, from petty shoplifters to vicious mass murderers, adhere to the principle that they do not have to obey laws or rules. Like American corporations, the fossil fuel industry, and Wall Street institutions, they think they are immune to and above the law; likely because of their wealth and influence over Republicans in Congress. That mindset of supremacy over the laws of the land, and really, special entitlement to disregard laws, for whatever reason, still makes violators criminals. One thing those who believe they are above the law share with common criminals is crying foul and claim they are victims of persecution when they are held to the same standards as every other American; this is particularly true of the religious right.

Americans should prepare themselves for an outcry of biblical proportions from the religious right in the near future after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) won a lawsuit and a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service. The lawsuit demanded that the IRS start cracking down on churches and religious groups who blatantly violate the rules of their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by “electioneering from the pulpit.” The IRS agreed to start doing its due diligence and enforcing the law against mainly Christian evangelical churches that “have been blatantly and deliberately flaunting electioneering restrictions” with impunity because they believe they are above, and immune from, the nation’s laws; because they are evangelical Christians.

At the rate evangelicals blatantly violate the law, one might think there are myriad scriptural admonitions to Christians to openly disobey laws imposed by governments of man, but they would be patently wrong. According to the Christian bible in Romans 13:1-2, Christians are commanded toBe in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

The bible goes farther in verses 5-6 where Christians are warned that “It is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of (god’s) wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes.” Well, god in all his wisdom could not possibly have known that in America, churches and the clergy class are so special they do not pay taxes, but they are not special enough in the eyes of the law to be free of paying taxes if they campaign from the pulpit. Now, the IRS will finally begin enforcing that small requirement to be free of taxation and the Alliance Defending Freedom is outraged that a court ordered the IRS to force evangelical churches to do precisely as god commanded; “be in subjection to the governing authorities.

In the FFRF’s lawsuit against the IRS, besides citing a number of specific complaints against churches violating the IRS rules, it informed the court it had filed 27 complaints with the IRS that were never even investigated. The lawsuit asked the court to force IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman “to authorize a high-ranking official within the IRS to approve and initiate enforcement of the restrictions of 501(c)(3) against churches and religious organizations, including the electioneering restrictions, as required by law.” The IRS received a similar court order in 2009, but naturally deferred to the Christian prerogative and supremacy over the law and failed to comply with the court order. The new court-approved settlement means the IRS adopted new procedures to follow through and begin investigations into church and religious non-profit groups in general that are violating the law.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious tax-exempt non-profit that sponsors and organizes “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” where thousands of evangelical preachers actively campaign for Republicans from the pulpit, videotape the violations, and send them to the IRS daring them to take action was incensed at the court’s decision. After wildly celebrating the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, the evangelicals predictably lashed out at the court settlement as a violation of their religious supremacy over the government and American people. The Christian legal group claims their legal agreement with the IRS is unconstitutional because churches have always been above American law. ADF senior legal counsel Erick Stanley said, “For almost the first 200 years of America’s history, pastors frequently spoke out with great boldness about the great moral and social issues of the day and about the candidates running for office. Yet today, the voice of the Church has been silenced by the Johnson Amendment – an unjust and unconstitutional law. Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS. It’s outrageous for pastors and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for applying Biblical teachings to all areas of life.” It is a typical criminal mindset that regards having to abide by the law as being “threatened or punished;” especially evangelicals claiming persecution for not being allowed to run roughshod over the people and established law.

First, the Johnson Amendment did not happen “today;” it became a legal government statute in 1954 because a preponderance of churches were violating the Founding Fathers’ Constitutional separation of church and state. Second, “the church” is not being silenced, it is being required to abide by the conditions of its 501(c)(3) status to get free welfare from American taxpayers according to the government god commanded Christians to be in subjection to out of “conscience” and to avoid god’s “wrath.” Third, if evangelical “pastors” were applying “biblical teachings to all areas of life,” they would be preaching to their congregants to “be in subjection to the governing authorities” like god commanded, and lead by example by abiding by their agreement to continue receiving welfare from taxpayers. Taxpayers, by the way, that are in subjection to the governing authorities and abide by IRS rules that takes their money and pays for services evangelical churches use for free.

There is a very simple solution to put a screeching halt to these ADF-inspired evangelicals violating the law and god’s commandment in Romans 13:1-2, and save American taxpayers more than $82.5 billion annually not include a rash of unknown subsidies because churches are not required to keep financial records. It is damn high time to strip tax exemption from every church in America, let evangelical pastors preach according to Republican dictates, start paying their fair share instead of leeching off law-abiding taxpayers, and save them from facing god’s wrath for opposing “governing authorities.”

The reason evangelicals “assume” they are above the law and have supremacy over the governing authorities, women’s bodies, and gays is because they do not pay property taxes on their land or buildings. Do not pay sales taxes when they make purchases, do not pay capital gains taxes when they sell property at a profit, and when they spend less than they take in, do not pay corporate income taxes. Further, priests, ministers, rabbis, and their underlings get unfair “parsonage exemptions” that let them deduct mortgage payments, rent, and other living expenses when they do their income taxes; they also are the only group allowed to opt out of Social Security taxes. Religion is a very profitable business and it is time churches start paying their fair share like every other American; except their American corporate partners-in-crime.

Republicans condemn Americans who receive taxpayer-funded assistance as moochers, lazy, and entitled, even when they pay in to Social Security, Medicare, and sales and gas tax, but they never complain about their reliable evangelical campaigners’ draining billions upon billions from the rest of Americans. It is because of the preferential treatment, and free taxpayer dollars, that the religious right feels entitled, with Republican and Supreme Court support, to flaunt their criminal disregard for the law and force their religion down the rest of the population’s throats.

Most Americans are sick to death of entitled evangelicals leeching Americans’ tax dollars and imposing their dictates on the public. The Freedom From Religion Foundation finally got a court to force the IRS to hold evangelicals accountable for violating a sixty-year-old law the god of the bible says will “bring condemnation upon themselves.” God may condemn them in that bizarre concept of Judgment Day, but until then, a court ordered the IRS to investigate and condemn them to lose their 501(c)(3) status for “electioneering from the pulpit.” For Americans sick and tired of paying evangelicals for violating the law, it is about time. Thank dog for the FFRF.


39 Replies to “Evangelical Churches Are Blatantly Violating The Law By Electioneering From The Pulpit”

  1. Great article and I’m all for church’s paying their fair share. But like all corporations will the pay or find the loops holes that make up a lot of our tax laws. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  2. The federal government should never have granted tax-exempt status to — and it should have long ago rescinded said status for — religious congregations and organizations that use their congregants’ money to lobby for or against public policies or legislative proposals, as well as those that use the pulpit as a means to proselytize a specific political agenda.

  3. This is the best news I’ve heard in some time. If churches want to be political, that is their right, but we should not be forced to subsidize them.

    As far as what the bible tells them to do, it is not a surprise that “chirstians” don’t follow the things they don’t like. It is like the Constitution, they only seem to be aware of the parts that agree with their warped worldview.

    The evangelical right’s reaction to this should make for some very interesting reading, I can’t wait.

    It is about time that the hypocritical preachers of fear and intolerance got their comeuppance.

  4. Should have said they are only aware of the parts that they can twist around to support their warped worldview.

  5. This has been happening for decades. Nearly every Christian church I’ve ever attended, Baptist, Catholic, non denominational, Calvary Chapels, Nazarene, evangelicals..since the 80’s when I was a church going Christian (the constant hypocrisy and fear mongering chased me away) have not only told people who to vote for, what to vote for or against, but basically if you voted for the baby killing democrats you would be going to hell as baby killers. You were neglecting your children’s spiritual welfare if they were in public school (but wouldn’t bring down costs so average people could afford it), or you were on Satan’s side doing Satan’s work if you voted for gay rights… But I’m not one for double standards, hypocrisy, and fear based evidence, so I quit the church (not my relationship with God). Just as the bible states in the quotes God said to “render into Ceaser”…But this happens every Sunday and Wednesday night bible studies in millions of churches in this country. I’d…

  6. Not all evangelical churches do this! It’s only the extremists cult like churches that par take in the “Taliban” like movement. “These” people are lost souls, that go to the KKK meetings or miltia group meetings after church service. The republicans take advantage of their inner hatred and fear to get them to vote against their own interests.

  7. How does the effect black churches? Souls to the polls? Moral Mondays? Those are all church-led efforts. What about passing the plate for candidates in black churches on Sundays? Has anyone told the Mayor for Life in DC?

  8. And how do we know these evangelical ministers aren’t getting kick-backs from GOP surrogates, for using their pulpits as political marketing tools? “Church Donations” could just be another way to set up an unaccountable dark money funnel, to crooked ministers who think they are above the law, and politicians willing to use them.

  9. I know going to a black church is something you wouldn’t dare do but they don’t outright tell people unless you vote for one candidate you going to hell. They lay the issues out as far as social justice is concern and get people to the polls to vote their conscious.

    The Mayor for life. Hell he was elected in 2010 and you call that life? You are beyond stupid

  10. So the ADF openly believes that churches are above the law in this country, and somewhere in the Constitution it says that huh? Sorry ADF, but not only does it state that nowhere in that Constitution, but if you fake religious people would care to read your bible, it also says the opposite, showing you have no clue what you are talking about, either legally or biblically speaking.

    As for the IRS trying to silence your political pandering, that too is a total lie. You are free to preach whatever total BS you want, and to preach whatever political stance you want. You are just not free to receive a tax exemption under the very code you are now getting it under, if you choose to do so. In other words, preach politics instead of religion if you want, but lose you tax exempt status UNDER THE LAW if you do. That is called CHOICE!

  11. OK, then lets do it on a case-by-case basis, with clear criterion for deciding what is and isn’t abuse of tax free status.

  12. Moral Mondays? Why would you consider this a political agenda? This is what churches are supposed to Do! Advocate for the less fortunate, show leadership in protecting the disenfranchised, bring all people together to help each other.
    What about “white” churches where they tell their members that unless they vote a certain way they are going to HELL? What about “white” churches saying that the POTUS is NOT AN AMERICAN BECAUSE HE’S NOT ALL WHITE. What a load of BULLSHIT!

  13. It is rare to see this talked about at all. We all need to be talking about it! My dream is for the day after elections to see hundreds of pieces of legislation filed and voted on within a week by our new blue house and senate. Lets face it we have years of work to make up for. Everyone needs to pay, same as I do. Hammer time everyone!!

  14. huh?? Maybe you’re talking about a different “Mayor for Life”. I’m talking about Marion Barry. “Mayor for Life” is the name of his autobiography, and its been his self-declared moniker since the 1980’s. He was first elected mayor of DC in 1978, and served four non-consecutive terms as mayor, and is now in his fifth term as a member of City Council. Not sure who you are talking about that was elected in 2010.
    And you don’t think “souls to the polls” is electioneering?? That’s funny. Why do Democrats in DC hold primary debates in churches? See March 18 DC primary debate. You don’t think the churchgoers are told who to vote for in the general election?
    What about Rev. Barber’s flock in NC? They aren’t told to vote for Dems? HA!

  15. I think any church, white, black, brown, green, evangelical, baptist, that advocates for candidates or is politically active ought to lose tax-exempt status. Ditto for Temples, Mosques, etc. Beside the obvious violations of church and state, that’s a TON of lost property tax revenue for local governments, too.

  16. Marion Berry hasn’t been mayor since 1991. Now I know you people live in a different reality but today is 2014. I don’t think that qualifies as mayor for life but I MAY BE WRONG.

    Offering rides to the polls are influencing people to vote? Hey I have a suggestion stop suppressing the vote, have equal numbers of precincts and polling machines in the OTHERS neighborhoods and you can solve that problem.

    What is the key word about debates in churches? Primary. You think a small race has the money to rent out sports arenas or convention centers for a primary? Every party does it and quite frankly that is a stupid argument on your part.

    About the Pastor in NC, since you didn’t provide a link so we can hear/see what he said and since your post have been bovine excrement I will chalk this up as you don’t know WTF you are talking about and even if true unlike you teabillies blacks on the most part do not vote against their interest. Why would any black leader tell their followers to vote for a party that wants to take away your right to vote? Please stop being stupid

  17. I thought this was an excellent article, but was disappointed that the author had to speak ill of believers in Christ. A lot of Christian people also think what is going on in our churches is very wrong and agree to the points made in the article. It is hard to share the information however, if that information also contains slams against the Christian people themselves. Just sayin…

  18. Then I’ll ask you what Christians are always asking Muslims when it comes to radicals: Why aren’t you speaking out against it?

  19. Agreed. President Carter was “bullied” by his “fellow” evangelicals during and after his term in office; he’s never been “one of them”.

    These people are radicalized
    fundamentalist; it’s all about behavior, not about belief.

    They are driven by two behaviors; fear and coercion (if you vote for a Dem you are voting for baby-killers).

    Pick any radical fundamentalist aberrant charismatic preacher; they demand brand-loyalty or else. Who cares what Jesus said!? If you don’t up-hold their “brand”, you’re not loyal/not doing whatever you are told to do! Whatever you believe from your heart, soul, spirit, conscious really doesn’t matter; they don’t care what you “believe” just as long as you “behave” like them. Are you buying into their conjured up crap, or, are acting “differently” than what they demand/allow? Are you brand-loyal and do whatever they coerce or frighten you into doing or not? And, if so, are you brand-loyal by giving them anything they ask for;…..

  20. You’re saying here that you don’t think it’s right, but I have yet to hear one single thing on the news, or read an article anywhere where Christians are speaking out against politicizing the pulpit.

    I’m glad that you realize that it’s wrong, and will say so here, but it needs to be much more widespread.

  21. Was any kind of standard attached to addressing complaints, or initiating or completing investigations, etc. in the settlement?

  22. Oh, thanks…

    I’m here but, haven’t had “time” to keep comments alive and well.

    Actually,I have written gobs and bucket loads on this subject; it’s all contained at my a forum on Delphi. It’s not “fair” to advertise or suggest,”Hey-go-there-and-read-MY-stuff”; I get cynical when other comments have personal links elsewhere. Article links as evidence, yes; personal websites with political opins, not so much.

  23. I disagree out of my own experience in the midwest. This type of egregious violation is business as usual in churches, not just the radical ones.

  24. Terry, I understand. But your own personal experience does not make you a expert. We need to be “very careful” not make a generalized statement about evangelical churches without putting the word “some” in front of the statement. Because there are some that do this and some that do not. Do not put them all in the same category or you will alienate your faithful liberal/progressive people….

  25. This illegal electioneering is one of the main reasons for the Republicans public affectation against women’s choices. Before abortion and contraception they were all about the racism. Then that became verboten so they moved into the uterus. Its a guaranteed winner with the religionists.

  26. Religions have always tried to influence politics. They have also always felt they are above the law and could do anything they pleased. This has been especially true in the USA of christians churches where they have enjoyed the “christian privilege” in all areas, particularly in being tax-free.

    This has made them smug and arrogant as well as condescending and dismissive of anyone else.

    All religions should be taxed the same as any other business. They should also be subject to the “Truth in Advertising laws”. Yes, I realize the latter would put them out of business. That would be a good thing.

  27. Churches are free to preach whatever they choose to preach; be it moral, social, or political. They are not, however, free to preach a political agenda and continue to receive a tax-free status. Churches have been getting away with this for entirely too long. It’s about time the IRS is forced to crack down on them. Thanks to FFRF for forcing this issue.

  28. They should have never had tax exempt status to begin with.

    They should have ALWAYS paid taxes and ALWAYS been allowed to say almost anything.
    Just like any other taxpayer.

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