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Preachers Defend Free Speech and Religious Freedom With 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' (VIDEO)

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By Myles Collier , Christian Post Contributor
September 21, 2012|11:07 am

Pastors from around the country will come together to defy an Internal Revenue Service amendment that prevents pastors from endorsing any political candidate while they are behind the pulpit.

The call to pastors is part of a nation-wide event that is known as "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" in which was first organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in 2008 and will take place in Oct. 7.

For the event pastors will take to the pulpit to preach sermons that will be focused on one political candidate and then encourage parishioners to head to the polls to show their support. The sermons will be recorded and then sent to the IRS.

"The purpose is to make sure that the pastor -- and not the IRS -- decides what is said from the pulpit…It is a head-on constitutional challenge," Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the ADF, told FoxNews.com.

For many pastors this is more about freedom of speech and religious freedom than it is about politics or endorsing a political candidate.

"Pastors are rising up…The law hangs over us like a Damocles sword, in a sense chilling pastors... intimidating pastors," Jim Garlow, pastor Skyline Church in California, told Mike Huckabee during an interview.

"The freedom of speech and the freedom of religion promised under the First Amendment means pastors have full authority to say what they want to say," Garlow had previously told The New York Times.

Churches are also upset over being forced to choose whether or not to keep mum on certain topics or choose instead to let their voices be heard and risk losing the tax-exempt status granted to them.

The amendment at the center of this debate was added by Congress in 1954. It created new restrictions on 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, that stated charitable organizations could have their tax-exempt status rescinded if they actively participated in any political campaign.

The aim of amendment was to control and limit political contributions made by charitable organizations, but many have come to view it as placing restrictions on First Amendment rights.

 

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