Pulpit Initiative | Pulpit Freedom Sunday

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Description:  Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an event associated with the Pulpit Initiative, a legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit. Pulpit Freedom Sunday encourages pastors to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to speak truth into every area of life from the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom also hopes to eventually go to court to have the Johnson Amendment struck down as unconstitutional for its regulation of sermons, which are protected by the First Amendment.


IRS promises atheists it will intrude on churches, America deserves details

Atheist group says tax agency has agreed to new protocols, procedures to settle lawsuit
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Christiana Holcomb  |  Erik Stanley

CHAMBLEE, Ga. – Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Internal Revenue Service Tuesday to release all documents related to its recent decision to settle a lawsuit with an atheist group that claims the IRS has adopted new protocols and procedures for the investigation of churches.

ADF submitted the Freedom of Information Act request after learning of the IRS’s agreement with Freedom From Religion Foundation in a press release the group issued on July 17 concerning its lawsuit Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Koskinen, which accused the agency of failing to investigate churches the way the atheist group would like.

“Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “We are asking the IRS to disclose the new protocols and procedures it apparently adopted for determining whether to investigate churches. What it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day.”

The IRS claims it is temporarily withholding investigations of all tax-exempt entities because of congressional scrutiny of its recent scandals, but no one knows when it will decide to restart investigations based on any new or modified rules that it develops.

According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation press release, “The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations.”

The release mentions the ADF annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” event as one that promotes activity by churches that violates the Johnson Amendment, a federal law that activist groups often cite in an attempt to silence churches by threatening their tax-exempt status. The Johnson Amendment authorizes the IRS to regulate sermons and requires churches to give up their constitutionally protected freedom of speech in order to retain their tax-exempt status.

“The IRS cannot force churches to give up their precious constitutionally protected freedoms to receive a tax exemption,” explained ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who heads the Pulpit Freedom Sunday event. “No one would suggest a pastor give up his church’s tax-exempt status if he wants to keep his constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure or cruel and unusual punishment. Likewise, no one should be asking him to do the same to be able to keep his constitutionally protected freedom of speech.”

This year’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday will be held on Oct. 5.
 
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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Additional resources: Pulpit Initiative | Pulpit Freedom Sunday

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Previous news releases:

  • 2013-06-07: Pastors to again stand for pulpit freedom this weekend
  • 2012-10-05: Record 1,500 pastors to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday this weekend
  • 2012-10-01: All present for pulpit freedom: pastors in 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico will fight IRS
  • 2012-09-26: Grand total: More than 1,000 pastors to challenge IRS
  • 2011-09-30: Participation in ADF Pulpit Freedom Sunday more than quadruples over last year
  • 2011-09-12: 86 percent of pastors say gov’t shouldn’t regulate sermons under threat of revoking tax exemption
  • 2010-09-27: Participants in annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday increase for third year
  • 2010-09-23: Pastors ready for third-annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday on Sept. 26
  • 2010-06-22: ADF agrees to represent SD church reported to IRS
  • 2010-02-17: ADF attorney to debate at Stanford Law School on IRS religious speech restrictions
  • 2009-10-05: Maine churches threatened with IRS complaints for supporting marriage
  • 2009-09-24: Pastors ready for second annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday on Sept. 27
  • 2009-07-28: IRS withdraws audit on Minn. pastor’s sermons
  • 2008-09-29: ADF prepared to defend churches against possible IRS free speech investigations
  • 2008-09-25: Pulpit Freedom Sunday
  • 2008-05-09: ADF announces new initiative to reclaim pastors’ First Amendment rights

Commentary:
  • Erik Stanley: IRS apologizes, more apologies necessary (Townhall.com, 2013-05-30)
  • Erik Stanley: Government can’t require churches to abandon constitutional freedoms (Townhall.com, 2012-10-08)
  • Alan Sears: Why pastors must be free to preach on politics (Townhall.com, 2011-10-05)
  • Erik Stanley: IRS has no business telling pastors how to choose their words (Washington Times, 2011-10-02)
  • Erik Stanley: What is Pulpit Freedom Sunday all about? (Townhall.com, 2011-09-14)

Legal documents, related news, and other related resources available in the right panel when this page is viewed at ADFmedia.org.