They called it “the Boston Tea Party.” Dozens of American colonists, disgruntled with the tea tax being imposed by the British government, expressed their displeasure by boarding merchant vessels and dumping tons of tea into Boston harbor.
They made an impression, and the self-proclaimed “Sons of Liberty” were roundly denounced by the king, the royal governor, and even many members of Parliament who had, up until then, been supportive of the colonists’ plight.
The colonists were not especially dismayed. To their minds, it was the government that had gone overboard.
And that was pretty much the sentiment expressed this past Sunday in pulpits all over America, as a handful of courageous pastors mounted their own protest against intrusive government, knowing full well that—in doing so—they were risking the full wrath and considerable might of that government’s forces.
Like the Boston Tea Party, the sermons of “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” may help precipitate a revolution…this time, to restore what’s been lost from religious liberty in America.
These bold pastors are part of the “Pulpit Initiative”, a strategic legal effort of the Alliance Defense Fund designed to push back the overbearing, intrusion of IRS agents into the internal affairs of America’s churches.
Their sermons undoubtedly irked the IRS, whose interpretations of something called the “Johnson Amendment” insist that churches that intervene or participate in political campaigns can lose their tax-exempt status.
On September 28, these pastors put that interpretation to the test by bringing Biblical truth to bear on the most critical issues of this campaign, and on the public positions the major candidates have taken with respect to those issues.
The pastors’ point? That churches were tax-exempt long before the IRS even existed. It’s not a “privilege” the government can just take away. It’s a right guaranteed by the Constitution.
Big deal, say groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “I don’t see any references to tax exemption anywhere in the Constitution,” one of their spokesmen said recently. Well, no reference to “separation of church and state” appears in the Constitution either, but that’s never been their concern before.
One wonders whether AU has seen that little First Amendment reference to “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]; or abridging the freedom of speech.” Both of which Congress did, in 1954, when it created its unconstitutional directive—effectively telling pastors what they can and cannot talk about.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.