28 September 2008

Having their cake and eating it, too

There's been much coverage (on Public Radio, anyway) of today's "Pulpit Initiative" from the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, in which a handful of pastors risk their congregations' tax-exempt status by endorsing political candidates from the pulpit. The goal is to provoke the IRS into following the law of the land and revoking tax exemption, so that ADF has one or more test cases with which to challenge said law. The clergy's free speech rights are at stake, is the argument - the Pulpit Initiative is only trying to get government out of the church house.

Photo by Ben McLeod.
Except, of course, that government is already in the church, providing a subsidy in the form of a tax exemption. I don't see any particular reason to think that pastors shouldn't say what they want about politics in whatever forum they wish - but when they're taking money from the government while they do it, something smells. Regardless of what the ADF boosters say, tax-exemption plus freedom to endorse is a recipe for corruption.

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