From the day the Pilgrims first set foot at Plymouth Rock, the cornerstone of American government has been religious freedom.
This is the land where pastors have been free to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and explore the positive impact of biblical truth on every aspect of the culture.
This is the nation where Christians, in the name and for the glory of God, have been free to minister His love and administrate their churches without government interference or regulation.
But all of that is changing – and changing fast – in America today.
Today, government intrusion into the affairs of the Church poses a growing threat to church autonomy and to even the most basic religious liberties – including freedom of speech, freedom to exercise religious beliefs and freedom of access.
Intimidated by threats (including the possible loss of their church’s 501(c)(3) tax exemption) brought on the Johnson Amendment (see below), many pastors have stopped exploring the message of the Scriptures as it relates to issues that might be considered “politically sensitive,” and stopped exhorting their congregations to obey biblical teaching where it conflicts with the dictates of an increasingly “tolerant” secular culture.
Meanwhile, across America, churches are being denied access to public facilities that are available to other private groups … denied access to public funds that other private organizations can draw on to help the hurting and underprivileged … denied the uses of suitable property through arbitrary land ordinances and zoning restrictions. These government roadblocks are increasingly impeding church efforts to evangelize and minister to their communities.
In response, the Alliance Defense Fund began Pulpit Freedom Sunday in 2008. The goal of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, scheduled for October 7, 2012, is simple: have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional – and once and for all remove the ability of the IRS to censor what a pastor says from the pulpit.
ADF is actively seeking to represent churches or pastors who are under investigation by the IRS for violating the Johnson Amendment by preaching biblical Truth in a way that expresses support for – or opposition to – political candidates. ADF represents all of its clients free of charge.
The future of religious freedom depends on a free pulpit to communicate fundamental, biblical principles to congregations across America. Join a growing movement of bold pastors preaching biblical Truth about candidates and elections from their pulpits on October 7, 2012.
–via Alliance Defense Fund (now called Alliance Defending Freedom); http://www.speakupmovement.org
WHAT IS THE JOHNSON AMENDMENT? The Johnson Amendment was passed by Congress in 1954 as an amendment to section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. The Johnson Amendment states that entities who are exempt from federal income tax cannot: “Participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of – or in opposition to – any candidate for public office.” The Johnson Amendment was added to the tax code as a result of the political machinations of Lyndon B. Johnson who was running for reelection to the U.S. Senate.
“Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” –First Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America (The Bill of Rights)
“The moral issues with public policy implications being debated today are far too important for Christians to ignore, especially at election time. Do your homework on the candidates and vote your values – your biblical values.” –Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
“The advice I give to pastors is preach the Word. When you stay on the Word, it’s going to cause problems, but it will take care of itself.” – Victor Kirk, Pastor, Sharon Bible Fellowship, and member, Maryland Citizen Clergy PAC
“I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered.” –The Apostle Paul, Philippians 1:12, MSG
“Educate yourself on the issues. I think we suffer a lot as pastors because, while we love God, sometimes we live beyond the reality of where we live… Sometimes we’re so heavenly-minded, we’re no earthly good.” –Harold Dugger, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Capitol Heights (Md.) and member, Maryland Citizen Clergy PAC
“It merits revisiting what the early church did because the fact we are here, fighting this fight again, they did something correct… and they had a respite for at least a couple of centuries. They spoke out and had an intellectual stand against [such issues as being faced today]. And they backed it up with lifestyle.” – Keiffer Bent, Pastor, Berwyn (Md.) Baptist Church