On Sunday, Oct. 7, more than 1,000 pastors nationwide planned to defy their restrictions on political candidate endorsements by preaching from their pulpits about who their members should vote for in what they are calling “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”. These churches believe that their rights to Freedom of Speech are being violated and are daring the IRS to come after them.
According to their tax-exempt status regulations issued by the IRS, this is a violation of their 501(c)(3) charter in that these organizations are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” These are the same rules for other charities and non-profits.. it is not exclusive to churches.
This is once again not about religious liberty, but rather, privilege. The First Amendment guarantees that you cannot be prohibited from practicing your religion within the bounds of the law. It does not entitle churches or religious adherents exemption from any law which happens to contradict one’s faith. These pastors want to receive government support in the form of tax breaks and then be allowed to tell their members who those government representatives should be. Tax exemption is not guaranteed in our Constitution to anyone.
The facebook group “Hammer the Gods” started an event encouraging non-believers who support the separation of church and state to go into these participating churches to document the violations ourselves, in order to hold these pastors accountable for their illegal challenge to the IRS.
We decided to join in, heading to the nearest participating church, “Park Temple Baptist” in Pasadena, Texas. But we were unable to get any footage of violations as we were met with a high level of suspicion and asked to leave.
It occurs to me that some of the churches “participating” are just taking the opportunity to breach the law in front of their congregations, but were never actually planning on reporting themselves to the IRS. Which, though we got no footage of the violations, proves that the endeavor to take it into our own hands to hold churches accountable for these breaches is worth the attempt.
As also mentioned in the video commentary, many churches break this law regularly. So even though the official “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” has passed, there are countless churches playing politics every week.
If you witness a violation, consider the following (from the “Hammer the Gods” event page):
Contact your state’s “Tax Payer Advocate” to report “Systemic Violations”, as this affects all American Citizens! Tell them we need more oversight and enforcement on this very important issue, and report any violations you have documented!
Taxpayer Advocate Service – “Your Voice at the IRS” Toll-free: 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TTD: 1-800-829-4059
Find the “Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form” Here:
Please note: “Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance” is NOT the correct form for this issue; use the PDF form linked above!
Share your photos, videos, and accounts of any violations here; along with any information you receive from the IRS!
Or sign this petition: