‘To Obey God Rather Than Men:’ Pulpit Freedom Sunday Happening Oct. 2
This weekend, pastors around the nation will speak for religious freedom.
Pastors around America are standing against the Johnson Amendment this weekend by participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a movement spearheaded by legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom and the conservative Family Research Council.
The two organizations are giving pastors a double call to action — preach about the elections on October 2, and encourage congregants to call Congress and ask for a repeal of the Johnson Amendment.
Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has prevented pastors and churches from endorsing candidates, with punishment for doing so being the loss of IRS tax-exemption. This week, Members of Congress introduced a bill to repeal the Amendment.
Many pastors have complied with these rules, and churches have “mainly stayed on the sidelines” of the political process, according to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a video. As a result, “the quality of government, the character of our culture, has spiraled downward.”
Alliance Defending Freedom has promoted the elimination of the Johnson Amendment through Pulpit Freedom Sunday since 2008. Since then, “the IRS has yet to prosecute a single church,” Perkins says, adding that congregants’ support for participating pastors has been “overwhelming.”
While a recent survey by LifeWay Research shows that the majority of Americans don’t want pastors endorsing candidates from the pulpit, a majority also said that they don’t want pastors to be punished by the IRS if they do.
Additionally, an earlier poll by the Pew Research Center found that Americans’ support for church involvement in politics is growing.
“Your God-given right as affirmed in the First Amendment trumps any rule the IRS can use to try to silence you,” Perkins says in the video, with a reminder that Peter told his governing officials, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Resources for pastors who wish to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday are available through the Family Research Council.