Worthy Christian News » Christian » IRS Would Lose in Court Battle Against Churches, NRB Says
By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
WASHINGTON D.C. (Worthy News)-- After the Internal Revenue Service agreed to investigate pastors that preach political speech, the president of the National Religious Broadcasters churches said churches would win their case against the IRS if the government agency revoked their tax-exempt status, according to The Christian Post.
"Let's just say theoretically that the IRS does revoke the 501c3 status of some church because of political speech," Jerry Johnson told the Christian Post. "I'm just certain that the church would, I hope, challenge that in the courts and it would go all the way to the Supreme Court. I think right now it would be a 5-4 decision. It's impossible to predict, but when you look at how this court -- let's say in the Hobby Lobby case -- when you look at how this court treats religious liberties and these kinds of issues, you got a count, a 5-4 decision. So right now the IRS would lose."
In July, the IRS settled a lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation after agreeing to investigate churches that FFRF claimed violated their tax-exempt status through political speech from the pulpit.
"This is a victory, and we're pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions," FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement.
In response, the NRB issued a statement of its own that said the agreement could lead to "de facto government censorship of the pulpit."
Many consider that the Johnson Amendment – which prohibits nonprofit organizations from endorsing political candidates while being exempt from federal income tax – runs contrary to the First Amendment.
"The First Amendment is very clear," said Johnson. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, so we're not going to have a state church, we're not going to have a church state ... But it goes on to say: nor prohibiting the free exercise of religion, so Congress can make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
"If they come into churches and say you can't talk about ... the way people live, you can't talk about marriage, you can't talk about abortion, you can't talk about war, you can't talk about business, well, Christianity is about everything. So this idea that pulpit speech should be censored is just foreign to the First Amendment."
Currently, the not-for-profit Alliance Defending Freedom is examining the pact between the IRS and FFRF by filing a Freedom of Information Act request to make any modified IRS procedures public.
ADF expects a response to the FOIA by September 11.