Constitutional Law

Sunday Sermons Test IRS Rule, as Pastors Preach Politics

Gearing up for a First Amendment battle, several pastors in Orange County, Calif., joined dozens of others across the nation yesterday in preaching politics.

A conservative legal group in Arizona, the Alliance Defense Fund, says it plans to support those who used the pulpit Sunday to recommend candidates in the upcoming presidential election, reports the Los Angeles Times. Such preaching violates an Internal Revenue Service rule implementing a 1954 Congressional decision that tax-exempt organizations can’t publicly take positions concerning political candidates.

Although an ADF lawyer says the IRS rule violates the right to free speech, “other clerics and critics condemned Sunday’s actions by the 33 pastors in 22 states,” the newspaper writes. “They warned that pulpit politicking would undercut the independence that churches have had to speak out about moral and ethical issues.”

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