ECFA outlines nuanced approach to dealing with political comments in sermons

The chairman of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has a superb open letter outlining a strategy for dealing with the issue of pastors touching on politics during sermons.

See: Chairman Michael Batts Comments on Commission’s Recommendations with the Exempt Organizations Tax Journal

A few of the problems with the current ban on political speech are the flagrant violations of the U.S. constitution:

There are arguably at least three fundamental First Amendment freedoms wrapped into the content of a minister’s sermon – freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and the right to peaceably assemble.

It would take half a moment of thought to add shredding the concept of petition of redress of grievance to the list of ways such a ban is harmful.

In addition, the ban on speech is not some deep-seated conceptual issue rooted far in our past history and embedded firmly in established constitutional law. Rather, it is the personal opinion of one politician which he slipped into a massive overall of the tax code. That little provision was intentional payback against one charity that criticized him in the 1950s. This artificial ban leaves the government in the position of

… monitoring the content of ministers’ sermons across America, waiting to pounce and revoke the exemption of a church whose minister crosses an arbitrary line drawn by a peeved senator from Texas in 1954.

How many dangers and serious problems can you find in that one idea?

ECFA highlights a great course to steer as developed by the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations (www.religouspolicycommission.org).

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