What does it say about this Sugarcreek area church when a large sign in its front yard says, “This Church Votes Pro-Life”? It sounds, to me, like the church is promulgating an official church political position. It sounds, to me, without a doubt, like this church is advocating the election of pro life candidates. When its big sign (the other side) says, “We Vote For Traditional Values,” I bet THEY have some very specific “traditional value” candidates in mind who THEY are advocating.
I’m thinking that it is likely that in the vestibule of this church there is helpful political literature / voter cards that clearly identifies exactly which candidates are “pro life,” which candidates promote “traditional values.”
But even if that is not the case, I’m wondering if the IRS would approve of a political sign this bold in front of a tax exempt organization? The IRS has rules. I wonder if this church is going over the line?
In my googling effort to educate myself about IRS rules, I found an AP report about an organized effort, just several weeks ago, by 32 pastors who agreed on a given Sunday to defy IRS rules and from their pulpits endorse specific candidates for political office. This group of pastors was organized by a group called The Alliance Defense Fund and their deliberate strategy is to provoke the IRS into taking action. The Alliance feels that a court will rule in its favor and will force the IRS to change its current rules.
I’ve got to wonder if maybe Dayton has a local chapter of this Alliance Defense Fund at Emmanuel Baptist Church influencing this church to be particularly provocative. (“Let’s put a huge political sign in the church’s front yard!”)
I found an AP article, dated September 29, “Pastors’ political endorsements draw complaints,” that gives more information:
“A church-state separation group filed complaints Monday with the Internal Revenue Service against six churches whose pastors either endorsed or made pointed comments about political candidates from their pulpits Sunday in defiance of federal tax law.
“The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based conservative legal group, orchestrated the pulpit protest to invite IRS scrutiny and a legal fight it hopes will lead to the restrictions being found unconstitutional.
“The group released a list Monday of 33 participating pastors – most if not all from conservative evangelical churches – and pledged to defend them.
“The pastors intend to send copies of their sermons to the IRS. But Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State didn’t wait for that: The group filed complaints Monday with the IRS about six pastors whose sermons were detailed in media reports.
“Five of the six supported Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The sixth, Wiley Drake of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., said: “According to my Bible and in my opinion, there is no way in the world a Christian can vote for Barack Hussein Obama.” Drake was not among the pastors Alliance Defense Fund selected for the protest and was acting independently.
“The five others reported to the IRS were Jody Hice of Bethlehem First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, Ga.; Paul Blair of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla.; Gus Booth of Warroad Community Church in Warroad, Minn.; Francis Pultro of Calvary Chapel Kings Highway in Philadelphia; and Luke Emrich of New Life Church in West Bend, Wis.
“The IRS has said it would “take action as appropriate.”