Freedom of Speech

Tomorrow some 35 clergy from around the country will be using their pulpits to make a point that they should be able to say what they want without any consequences. They are going to endorse a candidate in direct violation of IRS regulations regulating non profit organizations. They are doing this in the hope that the IRS does something so they can… wait for it… Sue the IRS. After all that is the American way.

Freedom of speech is guaranteed to all Americans in the Bill of Rights. And we as Americans have the ability to say whatever we want right? Wrong. Every freedom has a responsibility and every action has a reaction. The Government does not say that clergy cannot say what they want they just caution us that if we say anything partisan then we have in deed crossed the line and put our tax exempt status in jeopardy.

We can preach about the issues without naming a particular candidate. We can call our people to action and not even mention a name. I wish to educate my people about forming their own opinions and not just tell them what to do. First of all they would run me out of here on a rail if I even tried.

This is a very serious time in our country. We are fighting two wars, good men and women are losing their lives every day, we are in the worst economic times since the Great Depression, morality is at an all time low and these clowns dressed up as clergy want to tempt the IRS into sanctioning them so they can sue! Please it is time for serious people to make serious decisions and not time to be clowning around. Face the issues and talk about what the church teaches about the issue and let the people make up their own minds. Inform their consciences and they will do the right thing. If you want to act like a clown the circus needs some people but not the pulpit.

To try and combat this nonsense, I and several thousand other clergy around the country have signed a pledge that we will not use the pulpit for partisan politics. The Interfaith Alliance has asked clergy to take the pledge and in doing so we agree to the following:

To educate members of our congregation about how our faith relates to issues of the day.

To refrain from endorsing any candidate, either explicitly or implicitly, in or on behalf of our house of worship.

To prevent partisan speech from candidates or their surrogates, as well as the distribution of partisan materials, in our house of worship.

To resist using or soliciting the resources of our house of worship for the exclusive benefit of any candidate or party.

To respect candidates whose religious beliefs are different from my own, and stand against the use of religion to divide our communities.

To encourage members of our congregation to take an active role in civic life, including casting informed votes.

I am proud to sign this pledge just as I am proud of the ability that God has blessed me with to lead a congregation. Leading people in the Kingdom is far to serious a responsibility to monkey around with. If you pastor has not signed the pledge encourage him or her to sign it and encourage them to inform the congregation on what their church believes.


  1. As you know I’m rather non-partisan in my aspersions cast on the American political process, participation in same and the unequal yoking of Christianity with policy.

    But I respect their right to say what they think needs to be said from their pulpits and I fear the day when our Devilish Deal with the Impious IRS results in their taking away your tax status for saying the Liturgy.

    And I do imagine it might happen – for the Liturgy teaches some radically unamerican things that might well be seen as “partisan” in the future, the very near future.

    So, while I applaud the non-partisan pledge, and imagine (without being sure) that the vast majority of these preachers tomorrow will advocate in favour of someone I’d rather not see in office or policies I’d see as anti-Christian, I think breaking the grip of Tax Exemption on the Church is a good thing.

    A very good thing.

  2. Father, I believe that I am on the other side of that issue. I actually agree with many of the points cited in your blog. However, while I may not necessarily endorse a candidate, I reserve the option to warn my congregation away from a candidate.

    The lesson of Hitler was that the Church kept is mouth shut and out of politics. If you will look again at Pastor Dietriech Bonhoffer, you will read a pastor who regretted the Church’s lack of involvement in stopping Hitler.

    I come from Cuba. How I wish that the Church had spoken out more strongly at the beginning, and perhaps stopped the worst of Fidel Castro’s excesses. Maybe a different Castro could have emerged.

    No, Father, you speak like a person who has never had to face the awful national consequences of life and death issues wrapped in the covering of politics. Talk to some of us who come from countries where the worst has happened and then say again that the Church cannot speak about specific candidates. I think you will change your mind.

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