Political Pastors Pick Fight With IRS

Glenn Beck calls on 1,000 religious leaders to break law
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2011 3:33 PM CDT
Pastors Flout IRS Law Banning Political Sermons
On Pulpit Freedom Sunday, hundreds of pastors will flout a law that forbids tax-exempt churches from hosting political sermons.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Hundreds of pastors are trying to goad the IRS into a political battle over free speech from the pulpit, the New York Times reports. Organizers of tomorrow's Pulpit Freedom Sunday are urging pastors to flout a law that prohibits tax-exempt churches and other charities from political campaigning. Sponsored by the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, the event has been promoted by Glenn Beck, who is calling on 1,000 pastors to partake. “There should be no government intrusion in the pulpit,” says one.

Supporters and critics alike are miffed that the IRS seems to have stopped enforcing the 1954 law. The IRS posts "guidance" on church do's and don'ts on its website, and says it audits churches, but a lawyer for Ohio ministers who want the rule enforced says church audits have fallen off. Meanwhile, the Times notes, Republican candidates like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann will "presumably" benefit from tomorrow's "pulpit politics ... since they have been courting Christian conservatives this year." (Read more sermon stories.)

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