• 308 days Will The ECB Continue To Hike Rates?
  • 308 days Forbes: Aramco Remains Largest Company In The Middle East
  • 310 days Caltech Scientists Succesfully Beam Back Solar Power From Space
  • 709 days Could Crypto Overtake Traditional Investment?
  • 714 days Americans Still Quitting Jobs At Record Pace
  • 716 days FinTech Startups Tapping VC Money for ‘Immigrant Banking’
  • 719 days Is The Dollar Too Strong?
  • 720 days Big Tech Disappoints Investors on Earnings Calls
  • 720 days Fear And Celebration On Twitter as Musk Takes The Reins
  • 722 days China Is Quietly Trying To Distance Itself From Russia
  • 722 days Tech and Internet Giants’ Earnings In Focus After Netflix’s Stinker
  • 726 days Crypto Investors Won Big In 2021
  • 727 days The ‘Metaverse’ Economy Could be Worth $13 Trillion By 2030
  • 727 days Food Prices Are Skyrocketing As Putin’s War Persists
  • 730 days Pentagon Resignations Illustrate Our ‘Commercial’ Defense Dilemma
  • 730 days US Banks Shrug off Nearly $15 Billion In Russian Write-Offs
  • 733 days Cannabis Stocks in Holding Pattern Despite Positive Momentum
  • 734 days Is Musk A Bastion Of Free Speech Or Will His Absolutist Stance Backfire?
  • 734 days Two ETFs That Could Hedge Against Extreme Market Volatility
  • 736 days Are NFTs About To Take Over Gaming?
Zombie Foreclosures On The Rise In The U.S.

Zombie Foreclosures On The Rise In The U.S.

During the quarter there were…

Another Retail Giant Bites The Dust

Another Retail Giant Bites The Dust

Forever 21 filed for Chapter…

  1. Home
  2. Markets
  3. Other

IRS Threatens Political Speech

Five years ago, I wrote about threats made by the Internal Revenue Service against conservative churches for supposedly engaging in politicking. Today, the IRS is again attempting to chill free speech, sending notices to more than 15,000 non-profit organizations -- including churches -- regarding its new crackdown on political activity.

But what exactly constitutes political activity? What if a member of the clergy urges his congregation to work toward creating a pro-life culture, when an upcoming election features a pro-life candidate? What if a minister admonishes churchgoers that homosexuality is sinful, when an initiative banning gay marriage is on an upcoming ballot? Where exactly do we draw the line, and when does the IRS begin to violate the First amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion?

I agree with my colleague Walter Jones of North Carolina that the political views of any particular church or its members are none of the government's business. Congressman Jones introduced legislation that addresses this very serious issue of IRS harassment of churches engaging in conservative political activity. This bill is badly needed to end the IRS practice of threatening certain politically disfavored faiths with loss of their tax-exempt status, while ignoring the very open and public political activities of other churches. While some well-known leftist preachers routinely advocate socialism from the pulpit, many conservative Christian and Jewish congregations cannot present their political beliefs without risking scrutiny from the tax collector.

The supposed motivation behind the ban on political participation by churches is the need to maintain a rigid separation between church and state. However, the First amendment simply prohibits the federal government from passing laws that establish religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion. There certainly is no mention of any "separation of church and state," yet lawmakers and judges continually assert this mythical doctrine.

The result is court rulings and laws that separate citizens from their religious beliefs in all public settings, in clear violation of the free exercise clause. Our Founders never envisioned a rigidly secular public society, where people must nonsensically disregard their deeply held beliefs in all matters of government and politics. They certainly never imagined that the federal government would actively work to chill the political activities of some churches.

Speech is speech, regardless of the setting. There is no legal distinction between religious expression and political expression; both are equally protected by the First amendment. Religious believers do not drop their political opinions at the door of their place of worship, nor do they disregard their faith at the ballot box. Religious morality will always inform the voting choices of Americans of all faiths.

The political left, however, seeks to impose the viewpoint that public life must be secular, and that government cannot reflect morality derived from faith. Many Democrats, not all, are threatened by strong religious institutions because they want an ever-growing federal government to serve as the unchallenged authority in our society. So the real motivation behind the insistence on a separation of church and state is not based on respect for the First amendment, but rather on a desire to diminish the influence of religious conservatives at the ballot box.

The Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom must not depend on the whims of IRS bureaucrats. Religious institutions cannot freely preach their beliefs if they must fear that the government will accuse them of "politics." We cannot allow churches to be silenced any more than we can allow political dissent in general to be silenced. Free societies always have strong, independent institutions that are not afraid to challenge and criticize the government.


Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment