Free speech and the Churck...

billc

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Church's are finally going to go after their first amendment right to freedom of speech...

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Govern...e-Unconstitutional-Ban-on-Discussing-Politics

Oct. 7 was Pulpit Freedom Sunday, when thousands of pastors organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF) discuss the upcoming election and endorse political candidates.

Doubtless many of you are thinking to yourself, “That’s illegal—churches can’t endorse candidates.” You are correct that such endorsements violate a federal statute. However, that statute is almost certainly unconstitutional.
Lyndon B. Johnson was an extreme liberal, both as a U.S. senator and later as president. Through legislation, executive action, and judicial appointments, LBJ ranks just shy of Barack Obama in how far to the left he pushed the United States.
When serving in the Senate on July 2, 1954, Johnson pushed through the Johnson Amendment on the Senate floor without any committee hearings or discussion, making it illegal for nonprofit tax-deductible entities to speak in any manner intended to influence an election.
As ADF—a Christian legal organization that fights for the unborn, marriage, parental rights, and religious liberty—explains at its Pulpit Freedom website, this broke almost 200 years of practice where American pastors could freely speak on their understanding of how biblical principles applied to major issues facing the country, and which candidates for office those pastors believed did a better job of adhering to Christian principles in their proposed government actions. Video messages from leaders such as Pastor Jim Garlow and ADF’s lead lawyer on this project, Erik Stanley, walk visitors through the history of this issue and the specifics of ADF’s plan to combat this silencing of churches.
The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution protects the ability of churches—including pastors and lay Christians—and adherents of other faiths—to freely live out their faith through participating in the political process. And the Supreme Court has made it clear for more than a century—most recently in 2010 in Citizens United v. FEC, that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment guarantees that citizens can speak as freely through a corporate entity (such as a church) as they can individually about political and social issues.

I always wondered why people thought it made sense to keep non-profit, tax deductible institutions, especially churches from being allowed to endorse candidates. The constitution is pretty clear about free speech.
 

WC_lun

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Might have something to do with the amount of control religious institutions have on thier congregations. The opinions of a pastor, minister, imam, rabbi, etc can hold an inordinate amount of wieght. I don't think it is a bad trade right now. Churches can teach what they feel is right or wrong to thier congregation, but once they start to grasp at the riegns of political power, they lose tax excempt status.
 

Takai

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As long as they don't object to being taxed--no problem.

And why should their tax status become a premise for their first amendment rights? I don't remember seeing that in the constitution.
 

cdunn

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And why should their tax status become a premise for their first amendment rights? I don't remember seeing that in the constitution.

The tax break itself is a likely unconstitutional subsidy of religion, based on the illusory premise that the churches are charities foremost and institutions of religious instruction second. Any motion on their part to break that illusion means game over. It was conceived much as a primitive precursor to programs such as food stamps and unemployment insurance.
 

Sukerkin

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Is it really a good idea to come back around the circle againt to the point where you could conceivably have religious fanatics as heads of state? We've tried that before and it turned out to be a really bad idea. Tho' it has to be said that Eqgypt did very well out of it for quite some time :).

I know that some will protest their innocence as far as the 'fanaticism' parts go and I understand why. But I have to, respectfully, disagree, at least when we are talking about organisations rather than individual people. By their very nature, minority religious groups pressing for political power fall into a monomaniacal path whether they will it or not. It can take centuries for it to winnow itself out of the political 'platform' and the consequences canbe pretty terrible. Ideologies in conflict are bad enough; back them up with unprovable divine 'authority' and things go from bad to worse.
 

Sukerkin

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As an aside, I stumbled across this article whilst link-surfing from something Tg posted:

http://www.arabnews.com/fresh-look-muslims-and-secularism-uk

Quite interesting to read a middle-of-the-road view of how Muslims in the UK feel on things like freedom of speach and religion.

This paragraph I found particularly hopeful:

Within a procedural secular state such as Britain, Muslims have rights and responsibilities that are in keeping with Islamic teachings. Far from advocating withdrawal from society, mainstream Islamic scholarship regards civic engagement as highly desirable for Muslim citizens. Understanding that being a religious Muslim in Britain today also means living a full life as a citizen - with all the rights and responsibilities that entails — is a crucial step towards becoming well-integrated citizens in today’s Britain.
 

Sukerkin

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oftheherd1

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Might have something to do with the amount of control religious institutions have on thier congregations. The opinions of a pastor, minister, imam, rabbi, etc can hold an inordinate amount of wieght. I don't think it is a bad trade right now. Churches can teach what they feel is right or wrong to thier congregation, but once they start to grasp at the riegns of political power, they lose tax excempt status.

They would also run afoul of the US constitution. From the start, there was to be no State sponsored religion.

I suspect the tax exempt status is constitutional, whether or not you like it or agree. The congress has the power to levy tax. Therefore, they have the power to say who is taxed, or not taxed. When they define a broad range of religious institutions, as opposed to the Catholic church only, the Southern Baptist Convention only, or the Sunni Muslims only, they are probably on safe constitutional grounds.
 

WC_lun

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They would also run afoul of the US constitution. From the start, there was to be no State sponsored religion.

I suspect the tax exempt status is constitutional, whether or not you like it or agree. The congress has the power to levy tax. Therefore, they have the power to say who is taxed, or not taxed. When they define a broad range of religious institutions, as opposed to the Catholic church only, the Southern Baptist Convention only, or the Sunni Muslims only, they are probably on safe constitutional grounds.

I agree. However, say a minister of a super church starts telling his congregation to vote for certain people because "Christ wants them to." or some such thing. While he is just excercising his free speach rights, he is also wielding a great deal of political power. He is controlling a large voter block such as the old power brokers such a Pendergast did through the mafia. While it doesn't co-mingle the church with state, it is still something that could be very destrictive for the country. Many in the church who want power like this feel they need it to turn America to the path they believe it should be on, neglecting to consider that we follow a path we as a whole decide.
 

Takai

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Is it really a good idea to come back around the circle againt to the point where you could conceivably have religious fanatics as heads of state?

As opposed to the level headed right/left wingers that are running the circus now?

...However, say a minister of a super church starts telling his congregation to vote for certain people because "Christ wants them to." or some such thing. While he is just excercising his free speach rights, he is also wielding a great deal of political power. He is controlling a large voter block such as the old power brokers such a Pendergast did through the mafia. While it doesn't co-mingle the church with state, it is still something that could be very destrictive for the country. Many in the church who want power like this feel they need it to turn America to the path they believe it should be on, neglecting to consider that we follow a path we as a whole decide.

Isn't this what corporations and SuperPAC's are doing right now? And relatively unfettered to boot?
 

Tgace

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I wish the Church (RC in my case) WOULD start "outing" all the politicians that claim to be Catholic but implement and vote for all the causes the Church stands against. They claim to be Catholic to garner votes but then support laws mandating the Church to provide abortifacts, etc.

The Church telling me to vote FOR someone or Im not a good Catholic is another matter....
 

Sukerkin

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As opposed to the level headed right/left wingers that are running the circus now?

Exactly - that's just how bad an idea it is. The Divine Right of Kings should stay dead for the good of all.

Like I said "Ideologies in conflict are bad enough; back them up with unprovable divine 'authority' and things go from bad to worse.".
 
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