The atheist group Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming the Internal Revenue Service does not have a policy for enforcing the Johnson Amendment. Enacted in 1954 the Johnson Amendment prohibits non-profit organizations such as churches from engaging in certain political activities at the expense of loosing their tax-exempt status.
The court has not issued a final ruling, but it is reported the FFRF has reached a settlement with the IRS. The IRS has supposedly agreed to investigate the political activities of churches once the dust settles over its most recent scandal of targeting Tea Party supporters for auditing. I guess it is not a violation of the Johnson Amendment for the FFRF, which is a non-profit organization itself, to use its funds to file a lawsuit to influence the policy-making of a federal agency.
This agreement between the FFRF and the IRS has caught the attention of the Alliance Defending Freedom. Since 2008 the ADF has sponsored Pulpit Freedom Sunday encouraging pastors to violate the Johnson Amendment. Apparently the strategy of the ADF is to prompt a suit to test the constitutionality of the Johnson Amendment against the freedoms of religion and speech in the First Amendment.
My first thought is how ridiculous this action by the FFRF is. Its website claims it is “the nation’s largest association of freethinkers.” Yet they expend a lot of energy and money to limit the freedom of those who think it reasonable to believe in an intelligent Designer. Why do they feel threatened by those who believe in a God they claim does not exist?
There are some issues that need to be addressed here. I am opposed to any church using the tithes and offerings given for spreading the Gospel to advance the election of any politician, or any group’s political agenda. God’s people give in good faith to support the cause of Christ, not some political action committee.
I do not use my position as a pastor to make political endorsements. Billy Graham supported Richard Nixon throughout the Watergate affair, until, in the face of mounting evidence of his guilt, Nixon resigned the Presidency. I do not wish to make the same mistake.
But I also recognize there are a number of moral and social issues that overlap into the political arena, such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and religious freedom, to name a few. I reserve the right under the Constitution, and more than that, the responsibility before God, to address these issues.
I am not concerned with the FFRF bullying the IRS to bully pastors and churches, nor do I need to be goaded by the ADF to address issues of biblical certitude, or defend me when I do. My response is the same as when Peter and the apostles were threatened to be silent, “We must obey God rather than men,” Acts 5:29.