Right-Wing Clergy Are Violating the Law With Impunity Right Up To Election Day

church and state
Over the past few years, Republicans have all but boasted, and several federal and state investigations have revealed, that part-and-parcel of being affiliated with the GOP is being corrupt, suppressing voters’ rights, and breaking campaign laws. It is no great shock, then, that the religious right, staunch supporters of corrupt Republicans, are blatantly violating the law right up till Election Day and daring anyone to stop them because they know no-one will. It is an ideal situation that felons, whether violent murderers, pedophiles, or terrorists, would regard as criminal Utopia; conservative Christian clergy regard it as their rightful entitlement because they hold a bible; they do not adhere to its rules, but they hold it and that makes them right.

This column has often commented on the Alliance Defending Freedom, or more aptly named, Alliance Defending Church Crime, crusade to lure the IRS into litigation over the so-called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” activities every election year. The admitted goal of ADF is to videotape clergy campaigning from the pulpit, send the video to the Internal Revenue Service, lose their tax-exemption, and then appeal to the Papal-contingent on the Supreme Court to strike down the 1954 Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment is the law prohibiting all  tax-exempt charities from engaging in political campaigns; believe it or not, churches are actually considered “tax-exempt charities.” When Pulpit Freedom Sunday began in 2008, there were only 33 clergy members willing to violate their 501(c)(3) designation and still collect free money from taxpayers supporting the criminal activities. ADF claim this year more than 1,600 Christian clergy violated the law and extended their one-day “Republican campaign spree” from the pulpit to every Sunday leading up to Election Day in what sounds like an clergy crime spree.

A common refrain from Christian clergy deliberately violating the law, and their covenant with the IRS to receive free taxpayer money for doing nothing, is that “The church is god’s organization — what right does the government have to control this?” That was the statement of  Rev. Kevin Baird of Legacy Church in Charleston, S.C.. Actually, good and right Reverend Baird brings  up a two very prescient points that warrant answers from ADF and the over 1,600 criminal members of the clergy.

First, if the church is god’s organization, and there is no reason to doubt an honest,  law-abiding member of the evangelical clergy, then why are Christians afraid to let god magically provide over $82.5 billion in welfare that American taxpayers are funding every year, and getting absolutely nothing in return? Second, and this is a very important spiritual question; why are the churches and clergy in god’s organization violating his immutable word, and stark commandment, to obey the governing authorities and pay taxes (Romans 13: 1-6)? It is a sin to violate any god or biblical edict according to the religious right, and yet they are violating a god-commandment with the same ‘sod off’  attitude as they have while violating a simple IRS requirement to receive free taxpayer money to the tune of what by now must be close to a hundred billion dollars every year.

One of the co-founders of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Annie Laurie Gaylor, rightly said of the law-breaking Christian clergy that “You can’t have a tax-exempt entity engaged in politics because that involves using tax-exempt money for political purposes, so it’s an unfair playing field.” Gaylor is correct, but like the corrupt Republicans the religious right supports, they only understand playing unfair; likely according to their Neo-American Christianity (NAC). It is noteworthy that FFRF did sue the IRS in 2012 for failing to enforce electioneering restrictions on churches, and they did win a settlement earlier this year. According to the settlement approved by a federal court, the IRS acquiesced to doing its taxpayer-funded job and prosecute clergy and churches violating the law, but there have been zero 501(c)3 revocations.

The IRS clearly understands that this is America and this country holds a different set of legal standards for Christians, particularly evangelical churches and clergy, than the rest of the population. The IRS is well-aware that, although there is nothing in the Constitution or federal legal code regarding religious impunity,  it is a mortal sin to utter anything but high praise for Christianity, much less require compliance to a 60-year old federal statute costing taxpayers well over $82.5 billion annually. Fear of violating that unspoken mortal sin is why no federal agency including the IRS, or politician from the President of the United States to the lowliest rural dogcatcher, will ever denounce clergy violations or enforce any law against a Christian church; it is just not done in a nation on the verge of becoming a theocracy.

Americans need to comprehend that this midterm election is as much about hastening the conversion, by GOP and Supreme Court fiat, of this nation from a dying representative democracy to a full-blown Christian theocracy. A theocracy the bible crowd are going all-out on Election Day to take this country back to and impose Puritanical colonial laws. It has not been enough that over 1,600  Christian clergy blatantly violate the law and campaign for religious-right  Republicans from the pulpit every Sunday and still collect their taxpayer-funded welfare. There is a well-organized cabal of Christian fascists and their Republican facilitators fear-mongering that, among other things, the federal government without Republicans in charge is America’s ISIS inflicting violence and persecution on Christians exactly like their Islamic State cohorts in Syria and Iraq.

There is an easy solution that allows Christian clergy to stump for religious Republicans and Koch corporatism every Sunday and save Americans close to a hundred billion dollars a year; revoke their tax-exemption with extreme prejudice. However, even mentioning that solution is a mortal sin  against the religious right, and one is very well aware that making that suggestion will engender the typical death threats from the ‘followers of Christ’ sect that, besides showing up at this author’s door, will flock to the polls to vote for whichever Republican their preacher campaigned from the pulpit for over the past month. It is why voting is crucial because there is no doubt every evangelical Christian in the nation will flock to the ballot box and vote for theocracy; especially since many polling places are situated in the same churches  violating their 501(c)3 agreements and god’s command to obey the governing authority and pay taxes.

14 Replies to “Right-Wing Clergy Are Violating the Law With Impunity Right Up To Election Day”

  1. It is all perfectly clear, the pastor explained that the church does not have to obey “any stinking government rules, because it IS GOD WILL, and god is well above any other rule and everyone else.

    And if the pastor is driving a fancy new car and a big diamond waltch, well, god wanted him to have it, along with having young females to help him “stay healthy”.

    And it is the church job to keep the traditions “as they were written thousands of years ago”, well, because god said so and it is good for the pastor to keep it as it is…so DO NOT ROCK THE BOAT, nor ask questions

  2. Go ahead and have your theocracy, right wingers. They you will find out as England found out 5 centuries ago what happens when a tiny regime change (think Henry VIII) very quickly puts you on the wrong side of the rack.

  3. I would bet that at least half the Republicans in congress and state legislators do not even believe in the garbage they spout about religion, but they will continue to use the churches and religion to advance their cause.

    However the churches are more concerned with obtaining power to force people to bow to their rules. That will include Republicans too.

    IMO, these so-called “religious” zealots are violating the very bible they profess to love and are spreading as much hate as they possibly can. Not very biblical at all.

  4. Well, I’ve never heard of the Johnson Amendment until now and thank whatever deity that you follow that it’s around.

    Why? The moment it gets thrown out, the churches are going in full throttle with money, all to Republicans who preach the Church of Anti-Americanism.

    Once that happens, church and state will be on the same page… and those who know their history will know that when church and state are on the same page, the people will get screwed massively!

  5. Taxing them will not help but will eventually be even more hazardous to our freedoms. The ONLY! I repeat ONLY way is to defeat the religious Reich and in Grover Norquist’s terms, “weaken them until they can be drowned in a bathtub” Education against religious belief and towards scientific fact is the first step, next comes the removal of ALL references to this alleged “god person” from ANY and ALL government or public edifices or properties. Go back to “E Pluribus Unum” and Shit Can in god we trust from our money. Cut access to the airwaves and satellite channels so that this lie will no longer be cast out like so many spores to infect this world. When this world is no longer under the spell of heaven or hell then and only then will we become ONE human race and only then will we be enlightened.

  6. You’re right. They are already doing it, but imagine if the Amendment was thrown out altogether.

    There are several churches throwing money in. Once it’s gone, then churches become just an extension of the Republican ground game (much like corporations and the Tea Party)

  7. Remember that progressive faith institutions DO NOT VIOLATE THIS LAW. We believe in and uphold the separation of church and state. However, thanks to the Bush era prosecution of a liberal Episcopal church over a phony charge from someone not present, the IRS has become more cautious about taking ANYONE on since they blew that investigation entirely.

    IF you hear something in person, report it. It now – since this administration does believe in the law – requires a personal observation and date/time/place facts. The only investigations that will be undertaken are those with a first hand witness which is good for liberals who are the usual targets. Think about (gag) attending these churches and making reports. It all will help.

  8. Even in light of what I said Churchlady320 I am glad that some people and churches really uphold the meaning of what Jesus really meant, even though I’m an atheist I still hold a great respect for Jesus the Man more than the divinity. Thank You.

  9. Churchlady – There is NO NEED to report violations. The churches and clergy are videotaping the violations and sending them directly to the enforcement arm (CID) of the IRS and daring them to take action. That is why the FFRF won their lawsuit and the federal court approved of the settlement; that these non-Christian churches and clergy are violating the law was never in question and the court concurred.

    The IRS, and Obama Administration, know that if a case gets to the Supreme Court, the Vatican-driven Justices will strike down the Johnson Amendment with prejudice. Then ALL tax-exempt charities, including those run by the Kochs and Karl Rove will be free to “exercise their First Amendment right” of free speech. You think Citizens United was a disaster for democracy? It’s why the IRS will not act.

  10. These right-wing clerics are doing everything BUT God’s will by not only trying to force their parishoners to do as they say under penalty of hell, but also they do the exact opposite of the orders they give–all in the name of God.
    The way I understand it, right-wing clerics are guilty of blasphemy because they’re abusing God’s name not just to gain personal power and wealth, but also to reduce non-conservatives to a state of abject servitude.

  11. The answer is quite simple. WE ALL BECOME TAX EXEMPT CHARITIES!

    In 1968, sitting in a bar in Anaheim, CA, I became an ordained minister in The First Church of God the Father. Upon registering I received a certficate from the state of California issuing said credentials. Getting ordained in the eyes of the law is the easy part.

    With that, you can start your own church, assign all of your assetts to the church, and in essence become a tax exempt entity. I’m sure there are hoops to jump through but the point is that if enough people do this, we can begin to erode the tax base and the legitimacy of such exemptions.

    Anyone wishing for a blessed ordination feel free to contact me. [wink]

  12. The nonprofit status that was granted to this right-wing clergies needs to be revoked. Then watch the right-wing crab about how “unfair” this decision is, even as they broke the law which allows them to get away stock free from their anarchist activities to give the shaft to the government and to the American people!

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