From the Blaze (Read the full story at The Blaze) Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced earlier this month that it had recently sent the letter to houses of worship and sectarian leaders across the nation, warning in the text against endorsing candidates from the pulpit.
“We merely want houses of worship to follow the rules, stay out of partisan politics and keep their tax exemption,” Simon Brown, the assistant director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a blog post.
But Brown said that some of the recipients didn’t appreciate the reminder, as numerous faith leaders opted to send the letters back along with some fiery messages expressing their dissatisfaction; others called or emailed Americans United with similar sentiment.
Some wrote messages telling Americans United that they have no plans to comply with the organization’s reminder to follow tax law.
One faith leader took to his red marker to write, “Come and get me; I DARE YOU!”
There was also another faith leader who simply tore the letter up into tiny pieces and sent it back to the organization with no accompanying message.
It’s clear from the responses that some faith leaders clearly oppose the IRS regulations that come along with their tax-exempt status, though contention surrounding these legal parameters is nothing new.
At the center of the debate over church politicking is the Johnson Amendment, a controversial IRS code added in 1954 that precludes nonprofit organizations — churches included — from engaging in campaign activity.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist activist group and Americans United, among others, have long clashed with conservative groups over the issue of church politicking, with the right-leaning legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom organizing the annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” event.
Why is Pulpit Freedom Sunday the Right Strategy?
History of the Johnson Amendment:
Pulpit Freedom Sunday- Are Pastors Free?