Since the formation of the Moral Majority in the late seventies, many churches have immersed themselves in politics. Pastors, particularly evangelical pastors, have implored their flocks to vote for Republicans despite Internal Revenue System rules which prohibit a non-profit 501c3 from engaging in politics at the risk of losing its tax-free status.
Yesterday, pastors across the nation challenged the IRS rules by telling their members how to vote based on the churches stances with regard to abortion, gay marriage and other so-called values issues. In other words, they told their members to vote for Romney.
The churches even recorded their political messages with hopes that the IRS will attempt to change their tax status. Apparently, they believe that any such attempt by the IRS will result in a backlash, unleashing them to take any political stance they want.
The churches consider it a First Amendment issue of free speech. They assume the conservative Supreme Court will see it their way. At the very least, they assume a Teapublican-controlled Congress will pass a constitutional amendment in their favor.
However, the issue is not about free speech. Its about taxes.
Certainly, pastors and churches have the right to make any political statements they want. And the IRS has the power to determine their tax status. If pastors want to use their unique status as spiritual advisers to engage in partisan politics, they should be held to the same standards as any other Political Action Group.