Paul  Weyrich

The Internal Revenue Service has notified pastors all over America that IRS will be monitoring the content of sermons. If there were anything political IRS would initiate action to withdraw any applicable tax-exemption. IRS stated it will not wait for the ACLU or People United For Separation of Church and State to file a complaint. No siree. What does IRS consider political? That is not clear but it appears to be subjective agent by agent. This development is deeply troubling. In fact, it bothers me more than about anything that goes on these days and that says a lot.

Since when is it a crime for clergy to alert their congregations about moral dangers? You mean to tell me that a Catholic or Orthodox priest cannot speak his views on evils of abortion, especially when a bill such as those dealing with fetal pain, transporting minors across state lines for purposes of getting an abortion, parental notification, parental consent, federal funding or banning partial-birth abortions are on the Floor of the House of Representatives or Senate.

Can Roman Catholic, Anglican or Eastern Orthodox priests say nothing when the Constitution in their state is about to be amended providing that marriage is only about one man and one woman. They are supposed to remain silent if, for example, a pornographic store were to open a block from the school they operate? Evangelical ministers are to say nothing if a gambling casino were to be built across the street from their church? A bill regulating drugs is before the Congress, no pastor is ever to mention a word about it?

We know that pastors and other clergy or anyone assigned to preach in a church a synagogue or temple cannot tell people how to vote, Fine. I have been a member of my church for thirty-six years. For all but two years of that time we have had the same Pastor. He has never, ever told people how to vote. He doesn't even do as the late great Black Preacher E.V. Hill, of Los Angeles, used to say: "I don't tell them how to vote. I tell them for whom I am voting. And I am their leader". Never once has the Rt. Rev. Archmandrate Joseph Francavilla ever told people how he was voting.

He, along with other priests serving with us, has given powerful sermons on the right to life, on the dead-end drug culture, on pornography, on marriage between one man and one woman and on and on. Is the IRS going to withdraw the tax exemption of my church because Father Joe, as we fondly call him, calls his congregation to accept God's moral order?

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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