Saturday, September 05, 2009

First Amendment, Churches & The IRS

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". That is the first part of the USA's Bill Of Rights and should be clear enough even for congress-critters and law-making judges.

Yet, the Congress has made such laws as allow-and-command the IRS to limit the content and timing of "political statements and publications" by pastors, rabbis, immans, "elders" and, I suspect, even avowed atheists (As Atheism is a religion per the US Seventh Circuit Court Of Appeals; Please see citation below).. The same restrictions apply to the publications of "religious" organizations.

Now, I am not an attorney and am unskilled in the 1984-like "Hate is love; War is peace" reasoning of our courts; But, it certainly appears to me that the noted IRS power (To punish such persons and churches) is well beyond the limits set in the First Amendment.

It should be clearly remembered that the Churches of New England and New York were (By sermons, publications and provision of the most modern firearms) basic to the Abolitionist movement before the Civil War (OK---War Between The States) Is there any doubt that the election periods sermons and publications of the USA's Black Churches (And others who supported them) were basic to energizing the "Civil Rights Movement"?

If Elder Jones of the local Church wishes to sermonize and publish in the Church Bulletin that elected Dog Catcher Smith should not be reelected due to his corruption or bad moral character or opposition to the teachings of Mr. Jones' church, I see no reason that he should be penalized for doing so. I also see no reason why the same should limit him as to any House Representative, Senator or other partisan candidate or Party. All those statements are "free speech" and the "free exercise of religion"!

The government has NO overriding interest in limiting statements and publications by churches---Especially just before elections. In fact, the public interest should require that as many voices and points-of-view be widely known before such basic acts of democracy.

Most certainly, there is no "clear and present danger" (As in falsely crying FIRE! in a crowded theater) in allowing such wider freedom.

Of course, a cynic might claim that such restrictions are all part of the hidden "Congressional Full-Employment Act For Members Of Congress".

Blog: Crusader Knight
Post: Atheism As Religon--PER Federal Courts


Anonymous said...

The laws you mention don't abridge anyone's free speech, they prohibit political action committees from masquerading as churches.

If you want the 501(c)(3)tax category, then act like a church, not a PAC. You want to act like a PAC then you have to give up your church's tax classification. This is a tax thing, not a free speech thing.

These laws have been around for over fifty years, maintained by both democrat and republican congresses.

There's video from about twenty years ago which I really enjoy, maybe it can help you grasp the concept.

It's called; Put Down the Duckie

I especially like the part at 1:53 where Madeline Kahn makes a cameo, Ihtzak Perlman at 3:10 is pretty good too.

Let me explain the metaphor to you; if you want to be a church with 501(c)(3)tax status (to play the saxophone) then you have to set aside PAC activities (the rubber ducky).

Conversely, if you want to be a PAC (playing the saxophone) then you have to set aside the 501(c)(3)tax status (the rubber ducky).

In either case this has to do with corporate tax status and not free speech.

James Pawlak said...


Which congress-critter is paying you to keep him/her/it in office?

Anonymous said...

None. I'm a registered independent. I think indulging in politics is right up there with porn, and that most politicians are scum.

James Pawlak said...

To Anonymous:

You are "Begging the question".