Saturday, October 6, 2012

Freedom of speech (and the freedom to be tax-exempt)

According to CNN, at least 1400 pastors across the United States will be uniting in defiance of the Johnson Amendment. This amendment (an amendment to the tax code, not the Constitution) dates from 1954 and simply says that if an organization is tax-exempt, it may not endorse or oppose political candidates. This weekend those 1400 pastors will be doing so, and sending the tapes to the IRS. What they're trying to do is "(f)orce the IRS to come down on these churches so that the Alliance Defending Freedom, whose network includes 2,200 attorneys, can test the Johnson Amendment’s constitutionality."

Once again, the fundamentalists involved cast this as a struggle against "marginalization": "'Pastors understand how the so called separation of church and state, as it is currently understood. We understand how marginalized we are becoming,' Johnson said. 'We are supposed to be part of the community discussion about issues that matter.'"

That's fine with me, and no one's trying to suppress freedom of speech. Just give up your tax-exempt status first.

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