This Sunday, right-wing preachers all across the country will stick out their tongues at the Government of the United States. As the New York Times reveals, it’s “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” when ministers get up before their congregations and openly offer political messages — telling worshippers to vote Republican, and oppose any candidate who is for same-sex marriage or abortion. All this violates US law, which conditions their tax-exempt status on refraining from political endorsements. Even though the Internal Revenue Service hardly ever enforces this ban, the preachers are frustrated that it’s still nominally on the books, because it cramps their style. It’s a massive playground game of faith-based taunting:
Participating ministers plan to send tapes of their sermons to the I.R.S., effectively providing the agency with evidence it could use to take them to court.
But, if experience is any guide, an intimidated I.R.S. won’t dare to touch the miscreants with a ten-foot audit.
You can do something: urge the I.R.S. to enforce the law, and strip religious organizations of their tax-free status if they refuse to play by the same rules that nonprofits, charities, and others have to obey.
- You can e-mail the director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, Lois Lerner, at Lois.G.Lerner@irs.gov, and urge her to act against religious organizations that confess they violate the law.
- You can call the Division, toll-free, at (877) 829-5500 , and speak your mind.
- Or you can write them by snail-mall at:
Lois G. Lerner
Director, Exempt Organizations Division
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20224