In July the IRS made a deal with an activist atheist group to monitor potential political speech in American churches. The agreement came in response to a lawsuit by the FFRF. Here’s the story from the PJ Media:
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Internal Revenue Service reached an agreement today (July 17) that resolves for the time being an ongoing federal lawsuit over non-enforcement of restrictions on political activity by tax-exempt religious organizations and churches.
“This is a victory, and we’re pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. …
There is no way to know for sure which churches and denominations will come under investigation, though, because the IRS-FFRF deal is being kept secret, according to LifeNews. The Alliance Defending Freedom is using a Freedom of Information request against the IRS to force it to disclose the details of its plans for investigating churches.
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Response: Under the Obama administration government agents have been ordered to stop monitoring Muslim mosques that were suspected of encouraging terrorism but now the IRS and the Justice Department has agreed to regulate speech in Christian churches?
The worst part of it is the secrecy involved in the agreement. I have spent several weeks trying to find out more about this to no avail. In fact several Christian groups are trying to uncover the truth about how this will proceed including the ADF and this week the Faith & Freedom Coalition:
The Faith & Freedom Coalition demanded Monday the release of a secret legal agreement between the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice and atheist organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation charging that it is likely to censor churches by "potentially infringing upon their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association".
One thing you can bet on- black churches who have been centers for liberal political activity in their communities for years will not be on any list for potential regulation. It is conservative evangelical churches that seem to be the targets of this atheist/Obama administration agreement. Another thing you can count on, nothing will be done before the Congressional elections in November in order to minimalize any potential political fallout.
Meanwhile if the IRS does try to monitor and censor speech about traditional marriage, pro-life, and traditional Biblical values and morals they will clearly be infringing on the First Amendment even if these same issues may be directly or indirectly on a ballot for voting consideration. Pastors should be free to teach Biblical values from the pulpit whether there is any tie-in to a political cause or not.
In the history of our nation, churches have been in the forefront of the battles against slavery, alcohol and drugs, civil rights, and right to life issues. The Constitutional right to do so has never been challenged before. If a government agency like the IRS and the Justice Department tries to regulate content from the pulpit it would be tantamount to creating a law that prohibits the free exercise of a religion and it would officially establish what a religious group can teach or believe in. Clearly this would be a violation of the Constitution.
So much so that some Christian groups are hoping for the government to follow through with this pact to monitor and censor religious speech in order to bring lawsuits that would settle the issue once and for all in court. It may come to that but from my perspective I would hate to depend upon the current makeup of the federal courts to properly rule on Constitutional rights that some of the judges clearly no longer believe in. *Top