Monday, September 08, 2008

Preachers Pulpits and the Proper Separation

The hard right Christian exceptionalists at the Alliance Defense Fund are on one of their favorite crusades again -- challenging restrictions on political activity by churches. This time they are advising pastors to defy the restriction and preach political endorsements from the pulpit on September 28, and offering to defend anyone brought up on violation of IRS violations.
Not to be outdone in the Dubious Tactics category, an Ohio UCC minister has filed a complaint against the effort alleging that . . . um, they are trying get complaints filed against them. According to a WKSU story (which hopefully will be posted sometime) they are also planning a Sunday of celebrating separation of church and state.
I'm big on church/state separation, but that's not what this is about. Separating church isn't the same as separating religion and politics, which is probaly impossible. The IRS regulations are about separating partisan politics and charity. All nonprofit organizations -- not just churches -- are prohibited from engaging in electoral politics. In other words, the taxpayers don't underwrite political campaigning. What the Alliance wants is an exception for churches and churches only.
This sort of exceptionalism is the norm for groups like ADF, which is ironic. Their rap on opposing gay rights is that they are "special" or "exceptional" rights. The right to keep one's job irrespective of sexual orientation is exceptional. But the use of state resources to "celebrate" the country's Christian heritage (but no other) is simply curtailing discrimination against Christians.
It's so . . . special.


Jill said...

Oh! Thank you for writing about this - I can't find a link for the Kasler story either but I did hear it this morning.

Do you have anything you want to add about the role of lawyers in all this?? I mean - we are not supposed to be facilitating the commission of a possible crime - civil law violations are included too yes?

Anonymous said...

I agree with proper separation. I do see an issue with democrats running campaign stops from churches. Barak Obama was just in a black church in Toledo.