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IRS in Hunker-Down Mode on Pastors’ Political Sermons

Posted on October 7, 2014

Many of you are aware that in 2008, ADF launched Pulpit Freedom Sunday.  This initiative is intended to restore a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing any government censorship or control.  Pastors have the right to proclaim biblical truth from their pulpits without having to worry about the government looking over their shoulder and threatening their churches with revocation of tax exempt status if they say something the IRS doesn’t like.

On September 28, 2008, Alliance Defending Freedom conducted the first Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Starting with 33 pastors from 22 states in 2008, Pulpit Freedom Sunday participation has grown steadily to a high of 1621 participants in 2012.  Pastors who have participated have openly preached sermons that make specific recommendations about the candidates for public office and, in many cases, these pastors send their sermons directly to the IRS.

So we are six years into the Pulpit Initiative.  How has the IRS responded to the efforts of these pastors to restore their right to speak freely from their pulpits without IRS oversight?

Mostly, the IRS has remained silent.  In 2008, one pastor was audited by the IRS but the IRS dropped that audit soon after it began.  No other church has been audited by the IRS as a result of the church’s participation in Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

The IRS seems to have simply ignored Pulpit Freedom Sunday.  So what is going through the IRS’ collective mind on this issue?  Well, answering that question requires a level of prognostication and insight reserved for the Divine. But I think we can take some educated guesses as to what is going on.

First, the IRS may not be sure how to handle these pastors.  There are a couple of pieces of evidence that may suggest that the IRS is simply unorganized in its efforts to respond to Pulpit Freedom Sunday.  First, several pastors who participated in 2010 who sent their sermons to the IRS received basic form letters thanking them for their “referral” to the IRS of their situation.  The letters are normally the kind of letters the IRS sends out to anyone who refers a possible violation of the regulations. Here is what the letter said:

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11 thoughts on “IRS in Hunker-Down Mode on Pastors’ Political Sermons

  1. Phillip the Bruce says:

    1st, Churches should NOT be incorporated, because incorporating is asking the gunvermin for permission to exist. Set them up as trusts (or possibly foundations).
    2nd, churches should not apply for 501c3 status. That was originally enacted to provide tax-exempt status for non-church charities. Churches are automatically tax exempt.

  2. When I formed a corporation, I did not "ask the government for permission", I merely told them the company now exists and gave them the information they require. In granting the corporate charter, government merely acknowledges what already exists, and now have a record of contact information, location, etc. The corporation does not exist at their grant.

  3. I have to disagree with a small but significant point: : "This initiative is intended to restore a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing any government censorship or control.".

    No, government need to be retrained to stop any attempt to interfere, sanction, or controll what pastors and leaders might preach from their pulpits, blogs, etc. The liberty exists, churchmen need to simply ignore the threats and carry on. Sooner or later there will be a test case wherein the government SHOULD get smacked hard for such interference.

  4. WhiteFalcon says:

    Pastors are protecetd by the First Amendment just like other people. They have the right to say whatever they damd well please from the pulpit or anywhere else, so the Government can just shut up about it.

  5. virginkiller says:

    Abolish the IRS and shoot all the agents now. If we do not kill them they will be placed into another cabnite and continue the work of destroying America. IRS agents threatened us for years, time for a fear change. I am not tea party, I am a killer and a clown.

  6. Phillip the Bruce says:

    I beg to differ – w/o gunvermin sanction, you might have a company, but you would not have the limited liability of a corporation.

  7. I don't see why the govt doesn't include Muslim hate speech towards America in their place of worship, why do they attack other religions? Muslims do preach Radical Islam and kill Americans, why not hit them first

  8. That the IRS has not responded (yet) is not the issue. The issue is why churches have become 501(c)(3) incorporations, making the State their head, in the first place?

  9. Patsy Autry says:

    Not necessarily replying to Tionico…my thoughts are: why should the IRS have a say so about what churches/ministers say. It is not their concern. I have wondered why our Ministers don't speak out. Now I see.
    Where is the freedom of speech in this mess. Why have the churches been pinned down like this. It is time the IRS got out of the business of controlling lives, controlling taxes. Churches should not be corporations. Churches should not have to pay taxes. Their paid workers have to pay taxes. That should be sufficient. Churches give food, help, clothing to people in need. Was their freedom of speech tied up in the idea that churches should pay taxes, so this was a jacked up reason to control their speech. Should not be…Should not happen…

  10. Patsy Autry says:

    I certainly hope so. Look forward to the day…

  11. Patsy Autry says:

    Right on, White Falcon…however, I know they have been intimidated. I don't believe it has stopped…it should be
    stopped. Pastors are the church leaders. People need their opinions, their assistance in many ways. That is
    one reason they are there.