Clerics to Defy IRS, Endorse Candidates From Pulpit

Ministers aim to test constitutionality of ban
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2008 12:08 PM CDT
A religious conservative demonstrator holds a sign promoting US military power during the Democratic National Convention on August 26, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Pastors from 22 states plan to purposely defy the IRS this Sunday by endorsing presidential candidates in their sermons, the LA Times reports. The so-called “pulpit initiative” aims to trigger a legal showdown, testing the constitutionality of the law forbidding such endorsements by tax-exempt groups. “There is nobody who will ever tell me what I can and cannot say from behind my pulpit,” said one reverend, “except the spirit of God.”

Backing the group is a conservative Washington law firm, which admits the plan could backfire and costs all 32 participating pastors their tax-exempt status. Many critics hope it does. Some 234 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clerics have filed complaints against the pulpit initiative, citing the sanctity of church/state separation. Political activity is important, said one reverend, but “partisan politics are a death knell to the prophetic freedom that any religious organization must protect.”