Why is it some people in this great country can say virtually anything they want while others seem to be required to place a bridle firmly in their jaws? Why can some sects of people in this nation spew venom, hate and death threats, while others are not even allowed to voice their opinions in regards to political matters? Why are pastors, who by their very calling are to lead their flocks in their walk with God, not allowed to give advice regarding political candidates?
I know many will say “because it’s the law.” That’s not what I asked, though. Let’s get down to brass tacks: why are some so afraid of allowing pastors to speak their minds? There are a few interesting articles at the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) which speak to this very issue. Basically, there is a 54-year-old federal tax law prohibiting religious leaders from exercising their constitutional rights regarding free speech while acting as pastors or heads of religious, tax-exempt organizations.
Guess who brought us the law that infringes on pastors’ constitutional free speech rights? If you guessed Senator Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), you would have been correct. For information about what happened, you can look at the history of the amendment from Firebuilders.org. Apparently, Senator Johnson didn’t want to adversely affect churches, but it still happened and now the IRS has put a stranglehold on the First Amendment.
According to Townhall.com, the Johnson Amendment was quietly inserted into the tax code in 1954; there was no legislative analysis or debate on the issue. Following is an excerpt from the article by Townhall writer Erik Stanley:
Most scholars recognize that the Johnson Amendment had nothing to do with churches. It was a cleverly designed bill to silence some nonprofit organizations who opposed Lyndon Johnson’s Senate campaign. But that hasn’t stopped activist groups from wielding the IRS weapon to silence churches across the country. The tax agency’s rule is unconstitutional because it muzzles free speech and improperly entangles the state in church affairs.
Please don’t give the ridiculously lame argument about separation of church and state (non-existent). According to David Barton’s WallBuilders site, Thomas Jefferson stressed the fact God, not government, is the source of our rights, and government had to be prevented from interfering with those rights. Two letters written by Jefferson, one to the Danbury Baptists and the other to Noah Webster, confirm his intent regarding his belief government should not interfere with God-given rights. Following is a portion of the WallBuilders article on the subject:
Jefferson believed that God, not government, was the Author and Source of our rights and that the government, therefore, was to be prevented from interference with those rights. Very simply, the “fence” of the Webster letter and the “wall” of the Danbury letter were not to limit religious activities in public; rather they were to limit the power of the government to prohibit or interfere with those expressions.
Pastors should have the right to help their flocks determine which candidate would best fit with their views. Thomas Jefferson knew how important it was for the government to stay out of the pulpit, but there are many today who want to control free speech by hiding behind tax code that should never have been put in place to begin with.
How do you see it?