Guest essay by George Miller
It is part of the establishment catechism that churches, synagogues, temples, even mosques, are forbidden to advise their congregations on issues, politics and G*d forbid- candidates for elective offices. The First Amendment has been so misinterpreted, twisted like a pretzel, that it no longer at all represents what the Founders intended, or even what it says.
Then the Johnson Amendment (yeah, that Johnson) went even further by just plain prohibiting it:
Section 501(c)(3) of our nation’s tax code gives tax-exempt status to a church as long as it “does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing for statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to*) any candidate for public office.”
Since most religious organizations claim tax exemptions, this little phrase has essentially paralyzed their former role of guiding their flocks on election matters which could impact spiritual matters. It was unobtrusively placed in the tax code by a venal man in 1954 (* strengthened in 1986).
But even without the Johnson Amendment, the general prohibition against this has been conjured up by the communications media and the political world, then pounded into the brains of generations of clergy and the public.
Regionally, this impacted elections for State Assembly and even City Council in recent years, when opponents and local Liberal media suggested that it was inappropriate for a local pastor to even run for/serve in office.
Nationally, it has impacted elections where candidates advocated highly questionable policies which the faith-based community should have influence on.
Our nation once had a longstanding tradition of church involvement in the political activity of the day. It was previously commonplace for pastors to preach about political issues and candidates. In fact, half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were ordained ministers.
But, resistance to the embargo is building in recent years.
Hundreds of churches observe “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” via clergy speaking their minds at church services. Many record the sessions and send them to the IRS. But too few think like that.
There are some laudable exceptions to the apathy and even collusion by clergy, such as this, this, and almost daily for those like Chuck Baldwin and Falwell, Jr. But there are far more who say nothing or even support the forces against the religious principles they claim to espouse.
Now, the Trump campaign has promised to help overturn the hated “Johnson Amendment,” although it would be better to get the IRS and other government agencies out of religion entirely.
But lately, the exact opposite has been occurring. Incredibly, court rulings are forcing religious organizations and followers to actually advocate practices abhorrent to their longtime and legitimate religious beliefs. Anyone who follows the news knows that courts, as well as state and federal bureaus have forced religious organizations and followers to pay for and even promote abortions and contraception, accept “gay marriage,” bake cakes for “gay” weddings and more. There’s even talk of outlawing public speech contrary to official wishes.
Why are some churches softening or even modifying Bible-based doctrine to conform to the winds of political change? The most over the top example of all-out direct assault on religious beliefs was Hillary Clinton’s stunning statement: “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” regarding “reproductive health care.”
But the really big question is: Why are the the vast majority of churches so passive while all this occurs?
George Miller is Publisher and co-founder of Ventura County Citizens Journals, a Conservative/Libertarian activist in civic affairs and a “retired” management consultant, who returned to Christianity after a half century in the wilderness. He is now attempting to navigate with the twin beacons of the Bible and the Constitution, in that order. Mr. Miller lives in Oxnard with his wife/best friend of 40 years.
© 2016 Used by Permission
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