Update: The details of the agreement are secret and the Alliance for Defending Freedom has been forced to file a FOIA request.
Looking to the future, would pastors speaking out against abortion and same-sex marriage one day be considered political and thus banned? How about any social issue the government disagrees with?
A 2009 ruling and an agreeable IRS will now allow the government to spy on pastors’ sermons and threaten them or actually take away their tax-free status if they say or do anything at all ‘political’.
The IRS, already infamous for targeting conservatives and religious groups, has settled a lawsuit with the Atheist activists at the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) by agreeing to monitor pastors’ sermons.
That must have been a hard decision for the IRS given their track record. (irony here)
The IRS has agreed to spy on and control the speech of pastors since churches are tax-exempt. Pastors lose their free speech and privacy rights routinely thanks to the 1954 Johnson Amendment.
FFRF, a litigious Wisconsin group focused on Christians in particular, claimed in their lawsuit that the IRS ignores complaints about churches violating their tax-exempt statuses.
They want to ban churches promoting political issues, legislation or candidates in any way, shape or form. They can sue because of the 1954 law.
FFRF said that the IRS did not follow a 2009 ruling which required the IRS to hire someone to spy on churches who might engage in politicking.
There is currently a moratorium on IRS investigations of tax-exempt organizations after the recent scandal, but FFRF says they can bring the suit again when the moratorium is lifted.
FFRF filed the suit because in 2012, 1500 church leaders met on Pulpit Freedom Sunday to discuss the relationship of politics and Scripture in defiance of the ban on pastors discussing politics. They did so with the support of the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that hopes to overturn the Johnson Amendment which deprives religious organizations of their constitutional rights if they don’t have to pay taxes.
Trading constitutional rights for tax-exempt status is a sure way to destroy the free exercise of religion according to Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom.
Stanley advised the IRS to “adopt fair procedures for auditing churches” and added that they should publish those procedures.
How prophetic John Lennon was when he sang these communist words: “Imagine there’s no heaven…no hell below us…imagine all the people living for the day ah ha…imagine there’s no country, it isn’t hard to do…and no religion too.”
It’s certainly coming true. Obama is erasing borders and religion is disappearing from the public vernacular.