I personally think this is a victory for the secular world. Some however, disagree.
There’s an article at Investors Business Daily discussing the recent settlement between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) where the IRS agrees to monitor churches to ensure they are obeying the law.
The law I’m referring to is the Johnson Amendment of 1954 which basically states that churches should stay out of politics to retain their tax-exempt status.
The author of the article gets it wrong. The author discusses the First Amendment to the Constitution,
Congress can make no laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
I don’t think that’s what the FFRF is arguing though. What they’re arguing is that there are some churches that regularly try to influence the voting habits of their congregations. How do they do this? Well, we all know of examples of churches inviting certain candidates to speak. We all know that churches will sermonize against some legislation that goes against their beliefs. This behavior has been going on for years and it’s time to stop it.
I wouldn’t have a problem with churches inviting candidates for office to speak if they invited all candidates running for a particular office. They don’t. They invite the one that they’d prefer you vote for when you cast your ballot.
I think the author chooses badly, when mentioning freedom of religion and then he goes on to strawman when comparing this agreement to the non-monitoring of mosques for speech that might lead to terrorism.
The author also gets it wrong that churches can’t speak out about gay marriage or contraception. If it’s against their religious beliefs, they absolutely can speak. They just won’t be able to use those topics politically.
This is a great outcome. I hope the IRS actually follows through. We all need to monitor the IRS to make sure they do as they agreed.
I believe that if churches want to be political, they should be able to be political. Just give up your tax exempt status. Why should religion be any different than the rest of us?