Pulpit Initiative | Pulpit Freedom Sunday

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Monday, November 03, 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.


Pulpit Freedom participation exceeds 1,800 pastors, continues through Election Day

Pastors in all 50 states, Puerto Rico dispute unconstitutional tax rule
Friday, October 10, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Erik Stanley  |  Christiana Holcomb

 
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – More than 1,800 pastors in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico have participated so far in the Alliance Defending Freedom seventh annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday event, which began this year on Oct. 5. Of those participating, 1,517 preached sermons presenting biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates and signed a statement agreeing that the IRS should not control the content of a pastor’s sermon. An additional 242 pastors signed the statement only, bringing the total number of pastors in support of pulpit freedom to more than 3,800 since 2008. Pastors are allowed to register and participate through Election Day, Nov. 4, so the numbers continue to grow.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday gives pastors the opportunity to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to engage in religious expression from the pulpit despite an Internal Revenue Service rule known as the Johnson Amendment, which activist groups often use to silence churches by threatening their tax-exempt status.

“The tax-collecting IRS shouldn’t be playing speech cop and threatening a church’s tax-exempt status simply because its pastor exercises his constitutionally protected freedom of speech,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who heads the Pulpit Freedom Sunday event. “Pastors and their churches should decide what is said in church. The IRS shouldn’t be empowered to censor speech, period. A growing movement of pastors is calling for a solution to this very real violation of the First Amendment.”

“The Johnson Amendment commissioned the IRS to be a ‘speech cop,’ a role it should not have,” added ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “This law was specifically designed to silence public criticism of a politician. That’s clearly in conflict with the First Amendment. Political retribution to protect the powerful has never been the basis of good law.”

Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which began in 2008 with 33 participating pastors, is an event associated with the Pulpit Initiative, a legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit. ADF 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.

“A federal agency can’t use tax status as a weapon to force an American to surrender his constitutionally protected freedoms,” Stanley explained. “Churches don’t have to give up their freedom of speech to remain tax-exempt any more than they have to give up their protection against illegal search and seizure or any other protection in the Bill of Rights.”

A September 2014 Pew Research poll found that the majority of Americans are concerned that religion is losing influence in American life and believe churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues. A national phone survey conducted in 2011 by ADF and LifeWay Research with 1,000 randomly drawn senior pastors, found that nearly nine out of 10 Protestant pastors believe that the government should not regulate their sermons.

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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Monday, November 03, 2014

Previous news releases:

  • 2014-10-10: Pulpit Freedom Sunday vs. IRS
  • 2014-09-16: IRS stonewalls coming clean on secret deal to investigate churches
  • 2014-07-24: IRS promises atheists it will intrude on churches, America deserves details
  • 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:
  • Jeffery Ventrella: Politics and the pulpit: Profane, provocative, or prudent? (Part 1) (Canon and Culture, 2014-11-03)
  • Erik Stanley: IRS to churches: To exercise free speech, give up your tax-exempt status (CNS News, 2014-10-15)
  • 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.