IRS Pulpit Ban?

I thought I had heard something on this years ago, but the fact that it has been engraved in IRS policy for the last 54 years was news to me. The Washington Post reported today that the Alliance Defense Fund is organizing a pulpit protest against the half-century-old law that prohibits tax-exempt houses of worship from speaking for or against political candidates.

Now, we could debate the legitimacy and wisdom of ADF’s plan all we want (JT does so quickly and thoughtfully here), but isn’t the real issue that the IRS is blatantly disregarding the First Amendment?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On its website FAQ, the IRS says that this rule only applies to individuals, not groups, and apparently sees no contradiction in terms. The problem here is that groups are made up of individuals, and a group’s right to free speech is certainly no less valuable than an individual’s. The language of the First Amendment is understandably broad, as it should be, in applying the freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. All of those areas clearly involve both individuals and groups.

All of this seems questionable at best, dictatorial at worst, and it leaves us to wonder – who’s to stop the government from breaking its own rules?


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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