The right to freedom of religion is so central to American democracy that it was enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution along with other fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We are not supposed to establish a state run church/mosque/synagogue. Period.
In order to protect this vital separation, churches were added to section 501C3 of the tax code in 1954. They could not participate in politics AND enjoy a tax-exempt status. We can thank Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson for that. Johnson was no ally of the church. Senator Johnson had it in mind to silence the church and eliminate the significant influence the church had always had on shaping “public policy.” To ensure equality among religious and non-religious alike, this was as important a legislative act as the Civil Rights Act. He intended to keep religious leaders from directly engaging in our political process from their pulpits.
Unfortunately, the religious right seized their opening to influence policy directly with the Moral Majority. The Reagan Administration ushered in these frightening right wing Christian megalomaniacs who literally took control of his social agenda. They brought us hate mongers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who had tremendous impact on government who were not paying one red cent in taxes for their opulent and excessive wealth, while imposing their “standards of decency” on the entire nation.
To add a dash of effrontery seldom seen; reverends, pastors and preachers plan on voicing their political opinions this Sunday. This is the impetus for Pulpit Freedom Sunday set to occur nationwide on October 7th. The lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom organization states: “The purpose is to make sure that the pastor -and not the IRS -decides what is said from the pulpit.” – Erik Stanley. It heralds a complete lack of respect for the fundamentals of the United States Government. If you want a voice in the political arena, you must pay your taxes like the rest of us Americans do. That keeps us from becoming a theocracy much like Saudi Arabia. If we don’t keep these zealots in check, that might very well mirror the Religious-Right America of the future.
This is the third annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”. Isn’t it odd how this began after the first Black President was elected, as it was not an issue prior to that, apparently? Anyone with their eyes open can see this as just another not-so-thinly veiled display of blatant racism against President Obama. These agents of “god” are planning to videotape their sermons and then mail them to the IRS.
Speaking of racists, the Mormon Church has very publicly funded efforts to define marriage as between one man and one woman by aggressively promoting Proposition 8 legislation. Ironic how they value the “one woman” principle as even today, open polygamist Mormons can be found in rural areas of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Texas. Willard Romney’s great grandfather, Miles Park Romney had FIVE wives. We’ve obviously not successfully conquered separation of church and state as there’s still under God in our Pledge of Allegiance and In God We Trust on our currency. When a public official is sworn in or one testifies in court, they must place their hand on a book of fiction, the Bible.
I sincerely hope THIS Pulpit Freedom Sunday results in the very warranted taxation of many of these profitable mega churches. Religious institutions certainly have had their fair share of scandals that deem them undeserving of their 501C3 status. In addition to their often deplorable behavior, they seem to favor Draconian Old Testament laws that have no place in modern society. Bigotry and discrimination should not be legislated through the pulpit without payment. Just imagine the funds we could put into educating our children if we taxed the $30 billion in holdings by the LDS Church alone. If only….
If you’d like to help stop this, please sign my petition to eliminate tax-free status given to these hate merchants! Click on this link to add your name! Thank you.