Monday, October 03, 2016

Pastors vs. Speech Police

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For almost 200 years in America, pastors spoke freely and boldly from their pulpit about the issues of the day, including candidates running for political office.

But in 1954, the passage of one piece of legislation effectively overturned this freedom.

Then Senator Lyndon Johnson, in an effort to silence his Christian critics, sneaked through what we know as the Johnson Amendment.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is a Sunday this month in which thousands of pastors protest the Johnson Amendment and the IRS restrictions and speak freely about politics and political candidates.

Donald Trump has vowed to repeal it if elected.

Trump's vow was received as hope for evangelicals, and disdain by the secular Left---and some religious Left.

MSNBC was particularly critical of the whole idea.

They reported Trump saying, "At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical and religious community in general who have been so good to me and supportive. You have much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits...I'm going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans."

This obviously did not set well with the progressives, with MSNBC and other news organizations lashing out at Trump, pastors and the notion that pastors or churches should directly influence America's elections.

America's heritage casts a very different view of religious freedom, than that of Lyndon Johnson and the far Left.

It was pastors and Christian preachers who led the nation to the Revolution, the framing of our founding documents and provided a moral compass as America prospered and became the most free and prosperous nation in the history of the world.

This month more than 2000 pastors will exercise their religious freedom in the pulpit and speak to the issues of our day---and to the candidates in the upcoming election, in protest to their loss of their personal freedom.

Last Wednesday, Rep. Steve Scalise and Rep. Jody Hice, both Republicans, introduced in the House a bill that would restrict enforcement of the Johnson Amendment against churches and all non-profit organizations.

The website for the initiative states, "The IRS doesn't feed the hungry. The IRS doesn't comfort the hurting. The IRS doesn't heal the broken. A pastor's pulpit should be accountable to God alone, and the future of religious freedom in America depends on it."

Eric Stanley, with Alliance Defending Freedom, says the bill introduced Wednesday "corrects an unconstitutional restriction put in place in 1954 that was never intended to affect churches and other non-profit groups, but has been used to intimidate them ever since."

Trump said last month "...I will repeal the Johnson Amendment if I am elected your president. I promise."

Protestants and Catholics are standing together on this issue.

Archbishop Charles Chaput says, "Government is asking us to render to Caesar what properly belongs to God, and we can't do that."

Father Richard Perozich, St. Mary's Catholic Church in Escondido, CA., says, "In order to promote their ideas over ours, they tell us we must stay in our churches, keep our religion to ourselves, and that the idea of separation of the church from the state trumps any ideas we might have."

Pastor Jim Garlow, Skyline Church, La Mesa, Ca., says, "The Bible says render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's. But Caesar is demanding more and more of what was once considered God's matter."

What do you say?

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Bold. Be Prayerful. Be Free.