Nearly 1,500 pastors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have registered to participate – more than twice as many as last year, making this the first time every state has been represented. This continuing, rapid growth in participation is an indication of how increasingly aware pastors across America are of government efforts to censor their preaching and curtail Constitutional protections of your religious liberty.
Pastors who register for the event commit to preach sermons that present biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates. In so doing, they will exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to engage in religious expression from the pulpit despite an Internal Revenue Service rule known as the Johnson Amendment that activist groups often use to silence churches by threatening their tax-exempt status.
“Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS,” says Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “It’s outrageous for pastors and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for applying biblical teachings to all areas of life, including candidates and elections. The question is, ‘Who should decide the content of sermons: pastors or the IRS?’”
“No government-recognized status can be conditioned upon the surrender of a constitutionally protected right,” Stanley adds. “No one would suggest a pastor give up his church’s tax-exempt status if he wants to keep his constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure or cruel and unusual punishment. Likewise, no one should be asking him to give up his church’s tax-exempt status to be able to keep his constitutionally protected right to free speech.”
Pulpit Freedom Sunday – observed on or around Sunday, October 7 this year – is an offshoot of our ministry’s Pulpit Initiative, an ongoing legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom hopes to eventually go to court to have the Johnson Amendment struck down as unconstitutional for its regulation of sermons, which are protected by the First Amendment.
Please be in prayer for your pastor and others like him all over the U.S. as they continue to embrace the challenge of exercising their religious freedom in a culture more and more hostile to Christian faith, and as they seek to proclaim the full truth of God’s Word to you, your family, and your community.