Bill Would Permit Clergy to Speak Out Without Fear
by Bill Fancher
(AgapePress) - In America today, churches and their leaders cannot speak about political candidates without fear of losing their tax-exempt status. However, under a proposed new law, that situation could change completely.
The Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act (H.R. 2357) was introduced by Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina. He says members of the clergy should have to answer to God for what they say - not to Uncle Sam.
"Many times, the moral and political issues are intertwined, and if a preacher, priest, or rabbi cannot talk about those issues, then I am concerned about the future of this country," Jones says. "Should this bill pass, those shackles would be taken off of them - and if they chose to talk about the political moral issues of the day and the people in public office, then they would be able to do so."
Jones believes once the bill is enacted, it will be up to church leaders just what kind of impact it will have on the country. "If a preacher wants to talk to his congregation about a man in public office ... the preacher should have the right to say that and to do that. And I think it will help to strengthen the moral foundation of this country if we can return this freedom of speech to our churches," he says.
The lawmaker believes the legislation will be voted on sometime in September. The Senate version, he says, may take a little longer, depending on which Party controls it.
The Family Research Council says Jones' bill is very timely in light of recent guidelines released by the Internal Revenue Service concerning allowable political activities for churches. FRC says the IRS "Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations" only confuses the issue with legal language that is open to interpretation and that continues to "stifle" the constitutionally free speech of religious leaders.
Editor's Note: What amazes me is that Christian leaders look to the Government to direct their message rather than God. Wuz up wit dat?.