Here they go again — another effort to drag churches into partisan politics.
This fall Vision America, a religious-right group based in Texas, is sponsoring “40 Days to Save America” — which calls on Americans to pray, fast and repent for “our national and and personal sins against the God of Heaven.” Rick Scarborough, Vision America’s president, says of the event:
“While we are deeply troubled by the direction in which our nation is headed this is not a political effort. The political problems which beset us are symptoms of a deeper spiritual malaise. In times of national tribulation, our people have often been urged to humbly turn to God in prayer.”
It’s not a political effort? So then why have those 40 days stretch from September 28 to November 6 — election day? And the official list of supporters includes right-wing Republican congressmen and a virtual “who’s who” of religious-right groups that typically back GOP candidates, such as the American Family Association, Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America. Of course this is “a political effort.”
The Alliance Defense Fund is rallying far-right pastors around an effort to overturn a more than 60-year-old federal law that limits houses of worship and other tax-exempt nonprofits from participating in partisan election campaigns.
ADF and pastors like Steve Riggle of Houston and Jim Garlow of San Diego are calling on clergy to protest the law by participating in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” on October 7. From an ADF email to supporters on Tuesday:
Pastors should have the freedom to speak freely from their pulpits – even about issues related to candidates and elections without fearing government censorship or losing their tax exempt status.
Across the nation hundreds of pastors have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Join the growing movement of spiritual leaders standing for their God-given and constitutionally protected rights.
Since 1954, federal law has barred nonprofit organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code from keeping their tax-exempt status if they support or oppose candidates for elective office. So-called 501(c)(3) nonprofits, which include religious and nonreligious organizations, do not pay federal income taxes. In addition, donors to those organizations may deduct their contributions from their own income taxes. Houses of worship and other 501(c)(3) nonprofits may choose… Read More
The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, will present the keynote address at a First Amendment Day Celebration on Saturday in San Antonio. Texas Freedom Network staff members will be at the event as well — so come by our booth to say hello.
AU’s San Antonio chapter is hosting the 2nd annual celebration in the Alamo City. The event is 1-4:30 p.m.at TriPoint (tripointsa.org), 3233 N. St. Mary’s Street. The doors open at 12:30.
Rev. Lynn has served as AU’s executive director since 1992. He is a member of the Washington, D.C. and Supreme Court bar and earned his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1978. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and received his theology degree from Boston University School of Theology in 1973. Lynn is the author of Piety and Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom and co-author of The Right to Religious Liberty.
The festivities on Saturday will include speakers, live music and information booths from a broad spectrum of nonprofit organizations. Food and drink will be available for purchase from the coffee shop on the TriPoint premises.
“I think you want to be very careful when you give government the authority to favor a particular religion in an official way such as this,” Dan Quinn, communications director for the Texas Freedom Network, told FoxNews.com.
“That’s what bumper stickers are for,” Quinn said of religious decorations on vehicles. “We support religious freedom for everybody. The question is: Do you need government approval for that? We don’t want government having that authority.”
The group had previously blasted the plate as “disrespectful,” saying in a December press release on its website that “It’s become pretty clear that our governor [Rick Perry] is dismissive of religious beliefs other than his own, and now his governmental appointees have voted to send a message that Texas is unwelcoming to the religious faiths of some of its citizens.”
Our hate mail typically spikes when we’re quoted by Fox. (Go figure.) In any case, the writer of the following email apparently checked out our website, including the section on our… Read More
On Saturday our Houston friends from Americans United for Separation of Church and State are screening an award-winning documentary about a landmark First Amendment case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948. The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today tells the compelling personal story of the late Vashti McCollum and how her efforts to protect her 10-year-old son led to one of the nation’s most important court cases protecting separation of church and state in public schools.
Jim McCollum will be a special guest at the screening of the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning documentary. The event is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, at the Rice Media Center. The media center is on the south side of the Rice University campus in Houston. Admission is free.
The Boniuk Center for the Study of Religious Tolerance at Rice University and Rice Cinema are co-sponsoring the screening.