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Defying the IRS

How should churches understand their relationship to the government?

This election season, a group of about 30 pastors plans to challenge the IRS law that prohibits churches from endorsing a political candidate from the pulpit. As part of the "Pulpit Initiative," organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, many of these pastors chose to explicitly endorse one of the presidential candidates as part of his Sunday sermon yesterday.

The pastors say that the IRS regulation violates their First Amendment rights by restricting the free expression of religion. The government should have no authority to restrict what a pastor says from the pulpit to his or her congregation, they argue.

For example, Minnesota pastor Gus Booth, who encouraged his congregation to vote for John McCain yesterday, says, "If we [pastors] can tell you what to do in the bedroom, we can certainly tell you what to do in the voting booth."

Supporters of the IRS code also appeal to the First Amendment, saying the church should stay out of political affairs, and those that choose not to should lose ...

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