Monday, September 27, 2010
Yesterday was Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the day designated to challenge IRS restrictions on political speech by churches. I'm guessing that the day went by unnoticed in most churches (especially Catholic churches), but Chuck Colson thinks
that the time is right for a court challenge. My own view is that the Johnson Amendment (by which the restrictions were attached to tax-exempt status) did churches a favor by forcing them focus on issues rather than on particular candidates, though I admit that I'm not a fan of the state "forcing" a church to focus on anything in particular. Further, I do not view tax-exempt status as a government benefit, but as one of the last remaining shout-outs to a meaningful notion of sphere sovereignty in our system. If churches were given the authority to decide on their own speech, though, I would recommend that they keep up the current practice. We have a hard enough time not letting our churches be defined by the surrounding culture, and I fear that bringing partisan politics into the pulpit (rather than the underlying issues that may have partisan implications) simply exacerbates that trend. Thoughts?