Interfaith Alliance: Violating IRS Rules Puts Churches at Risk

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Houses of Worship Belong to Divine Authority, Not a Political Party

Washington, DC – The Interfaith Alliance criticized the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund for encouraging pastors to violate tax laws regarding intervention in political campaigns.  According to today’s Wall Street Journal, the ADF wants pastors to give sermons about political candidates a month before the November elections in an attempt to trigger lawsuits over those tax provisions.  IRS rules allow religious leaders to preach about political issues; however they are not free to make candidate endorsements in their official capacities. The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance, issued the following statement:

Houses of worship belong to divine authority – they are not the property of either political party.  The Alliance Defense Fund’s call for pastors to break the law represents the height of irresponsibility.  They are putting churches across the country unnecessarily at risk to costly and time-consuming investigations that could result in harsh financial penalties.  Putting churches in legal and financial jeopardy seems a bizarre way of defending religious freedom, which the ADF claims to defend.

But there is an even greater issue at stake in this campaign than violating the law.  When religious leaders endorse candidates from the pulpit, they weaken both the sanctity of religion and the integrity of democracy.  The IRS allows – and the Interfaith Alliance encourages – religious leaders to speak out on the important political issues of the day, but when clergy endorse specific candidates or parties in their official capacity, they abuse their pastoral authority.