Monday, September 08, 2008

Defying IRS Ban on Political Endorsements from the Pulpit

The Washington Post has a story this morning on the actions of the Alliance Defense Fund: "Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules." Read the whole thing.

Here is my quick take:

1. My sense is that the ADF is probably right on the Constitutional question. I think it'd be difficult to show that the Constitution prohibits pastors from making such pronouncements.

2. From a biblical perspective, I don't think it's wise for pastors and churches, in their capacity as such, to make political endorsements. Explaining their position on various issues seems both allowable and advisable, but I'd be curious for the biblical rationale for a church or a pulpit endorsing a candidate.

3. I have friends who argue that churches should refuse their tax-exempt status (which would allow them to make these kinds of endorsements). Even though--per point #2--I'd still have problems with this, wouldn't this be a more consistent position to take?

I'm not an expert on this (or any other topic for that matter!). So what do you think?