Alliance Defense Fund,
a right-wing religious group, is backing the
in which, on Sep. 28, 2008, a bunch of pastors will give sermons
directly endorsing specific political candidates. They’re hoping to be
sued, and to use the suit to overturn the law against churches
directly endorsing candidates.
CNN’s Rick Sanchez hosted a “he-said, he-said” exchange about this:
(HT Atheist Media)
Jim Wallace, who opposes this initiative, threw out some wooly
feel-good arguments about partisanship by fallible humans weakening
the Body of Christ, or some such, while Eric Stanley, who supports it,
threw out red herrings like
This is about the independence of the church. The church should be
independent of the government.
We want to restore the right of pastors to freely speak without
But what bugs me is that they and Rick Sanchez avoided the main point:
Everyone has to pay taxes, to keep society functioning. Many
charitable organizations (including churches) are given the special
privilege of not paying taxes, in return for the presumed good work
they do. However, this privilege comes with strings attached. One of
these is that you can’t meddle in politics.
So when Stanley says that pastors should be able to speak freely,
well, they already can. Unless they’re incorporated as tax-exempt
So what the Pulpit Initiative people are asking for is not fairness,
but special privileges: they want the right to endorse specific
candidates, and also retain the special privilege of not paying taxes.
So if I may take up an argument used by the anti-gay-marriage crowd:
sorry, but no, you don’t get to have special rights that others don’t.