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11472
“See What Has the Irs Stopped in Its Tracks!”
by WND _ Bob Unruh   
September 24th, 2010

Pulpit Freedom Sunday has Christian leaders challenge government censorship

At least 100, and perhaps as many as several hundred, Christian pastors on Sunday will speak out on biblical issues and the political candidates on the November election ballot in direct violation of Internal Revenue Service regulations.

Then they'll package up recordings or transcripts of their sermons and send them to the IRS, with a dare to the government agency to come after them for their comments.

Ministers, although smaller in numbers, have done exactly that for the last two years. But of all the direct violations of the IRS ban on ministers addressing politics from their pulpits, only one investigation was begun, and it was dropped almost immediately, according to Kevin Theriot, a senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is organizing this year's Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

The essence of the program is to create a challenge to the IRS rules adopted in 1954 at the behest of then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson that prohibit any speech from a church pulpit favoring or opposing a political candidate.

The rules were adopted after Johnson found himself bearing the brunt of critical comments from Christian pastors concerned about his behavior in Washington.

Before then, according to the ADF, pastors spoke freely from their pulpits even about specific candidates, issues and elections.

"The IRS should not be used as a political tool to advance the agenda of radical groups bent on silencing the voice of the church and inhibiting religious freedom," Erik Stanley, also a senior counsel for the ADF, said. "It is ironic that a group with a name like 'Americans United for Separation of Church and State' continues to exploit a scheme of massive government monitoring and surveillance of churches."

He said the real impact of the rules adopted under Johnson's leadership is that pastors are muzzling themselves for fear of an IRS investigation.

"Rather than risk confrontation, many pastors have self-censored their speech, afraid to apply the teachings of Scripture to specific candidates or elections. As in years past, the participants in Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2010 are taking a stand against being intimidated into sacrificing their First Amendment rights," he said.

The event was the focus of a recent conversation between Fox News host Glenn Beck and David Barton of the Wallbuilders organization that documents the nation's Christian heritage:

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