ADF is not arguing that churches should act like political action committees, or that pastors should routinely endorse or oppose candidates. What they are saying is that while many pastors and other church leaders may choose not—for various reasons—to talk about political issues from the pulpit, that should be their decision, not the IRS’s.
I agree with ADF. Decisions about what is preached from the pulpit of a church should not belong to the government but to the individual pastor and church itself. That is why I support Pulpit Freedom Sunday, to be observed on Sept. 26, in which pastors across America will take a courageous stand and boldly challenge the IRS’s restrictions on their freedom of speech when it comes to political candidates and issues. If the IRS threatens their tax-exempt status, ADF attorneys will file lawsuits on these pastors’ behalf with the hope that they will eventually lead to the Johnson Amendment being declared unconstitutional. ADF believes that if these cases ever come to trial, this will be the likely result.
Many Christians have an understandable fear of the overuse of litigation. But that does not prevent Christians from making appropriate use of litigation when warranted. The approach ADF is using is simply the only realistic way to have an unconstitutional IRS rule removed from the books when the IRS won’t do it on its own. Far from being a rash project put together by people eager to engage in litigation, this approach has been painstakingly thought out. It is the wisest and most effective course—indeed, the only one that has promise.
So take the occasion this week on Pulpit Freedom Sunday to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy and resolve never to weaken, never to be intimidated, and never to back down. As those of us who signed the Manhattan Declaration have affirmed, “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's.”