Posted by: nmontague | September 28, 2010

Pulpit Freedom Sunday

I was reading about an interesting event this past weekend. Apparently a number of Pastors this past Sunday decided to step into a dangerous arena: Taxes. In what is being called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a number of Pastors are speaking out about politics in an attempt to invite the IRS to challenge their tax exempt status and thus allow them to challenge the Constitutionality of the statute.

The Tax code currently provides tax exemption for Church who stay out of mentioning politics over the pulpit. However, if they do mention politics or government, the government then claims power to tax them. There are people who believe that this is contrary to the First amendments Free exercise and Free speech clauses.  Since the law has never been challenged in a Court, these Pastors are trying to bait the IRS into a chance to do just that.

Quite honestly, I don’t think Churches should be endorsing candidates. But the idea that the Government can punish a group of people if they speak out against certain politicians disgusts me. We live in a nation that was built on the idea that people can freely worship and freely speak their mind about their leaders. It may be only Churches now, but what is to stop the government from taxing other groups and organizations if they have the audacity to criticize a politician.

Everyone has a right to speak their mind, especially in the political process. If I want to criticize President Bush, I am going to do so. If I want to critize President Obama, I am going to do so.  Giving the government power to tax someone for doing that is very dangerous no matter who is the one doing the speaking or what they are saying.

Now, I am quite mixed with my own personal feelings in the method. I believe in obeying the law. Yet at the same time I think this is a completely unjust law and contrary to the fundamental principles of our Republic. The timing of this all is very interesting since I’ve been reading up on non-violent resistance, which you probably know if you’ve read my blog before. It’s kind of funny how things in life seem to come together at similiar times.

But, I’m digressing. The fact is we all need to make a choice in our lives. Do we want the government to have the power to tax people or groups just because of what they say, regardless of whether we agree with those people or not? Or do we want to have the freedom to question the things our politicians and government do and to allow others to speak out against them as well, even if we disagree with them?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I would much rather have the ability to speak freely for everyone, rather than the give the government more power to stop the debate. The Marketplace of ideas is key to advancing a civilization. Without it real progress stalls and sometimes even digresses. What do you want for yourself, for your children, and for your fellow man?

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