Virginia AG tests politics from the pulpit

posted at 3:45 pm on June 18, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

In Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is exploring the limits of when preaching crosses over the line into politics. It requires a bit of digging into state law, but the line he identifies looks fairly clearly, at least at first glance.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli spoke to the approximately 250 church leaders on Thursday, outlining for them what they are allowed to do when it comes to political engagement.

A personal endorsement of a candidate is permissible under the law, he said at the Virginia Christian Alliance’s “Christian Citizenship and Godly Government Breakfast.” But they cannot use their church to endorse anyone.

“The biggest no-no of them all, do not put your church’s name behind any candidate,” he made clear as he pointed out that churches that endorse candidates could lose their 501(c)3 tax exempt status.

If we stopped there, it sounds like the AG is pulling out the separation of church and state argument with guns blazing. However, he goes on to put a few more qualifiers on this which come close to the exact opposite.

Churches may also distribute voter guides explaining the issue positions of candidates, as long as those guides do not also contain the positions of the church on those issues.

Cuccinelli assured the pastors, though, that speaking out on political issues is not only legal, but appropriate.

“When you became a pastor, you didn’t leave your First Amendment rights at the door,” he clarified. “Continue to be good shepherds to your congregations – and don’t be afraid when your shepherding includes giving guidance on issues that fall in the political world, because those are the same issues your congregants face each day in their world. Let your voice be heard. Speak out and guide your flock toward what is right and what is true.”

You’ll pardon me for observing that the Attorney General, speaking in his official capacity, isn’t sounding particularly secular there. But in any event, he’s not exactly breaking new ground. This is one of the biggest gray areas in the country when it comes to the intersection of politics and faith.

On the one hand, it’s not difficult to imagine that when your pastor hands out an “issues guide” reinforcing the church’s position on each item, it doesn’t exactly require a double major in theology and political science to put two and two together and figure out which candidate is which. But does that cross the line in terms of non-profits – including churches – staying out of elections?

That depends which state you’re in. Without re-writing a single law, one state could choose to bring the hammer down when the leader of the congregation so much as mentions the word abortion. Across the state line, the next governor could have policies allowing priests to do anything, providing their not actually handing out “Vote for Bob” bumper stickers along with the communion wafers.

The real question to be wrestled to the ground here is, when is influence undue and when is it appropriate? On the one hand, the entire purpose of structured religion is, in part, to influence your behavior. (At least as far as influencing you to lead a moral life.) Surely the way you vote is part of how you interact with the rest of the world and conduct your affairs.

But contrarians will note that religious leaders carry influence beyond what any single adviser or guide could wield, since they implicitly carry the fate of your eternal soul in their hands. Should that level of what is literally “the fear of god” influence be brought to bear on voters’ decisions? This will raise the usual hackles on both sides of the debate, but don’t expect any clarification from on high any time soon. In fact, it will continue to swirl as events like the Texas “Day of Prayer” make the news.

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I’m all for it… Who are the muslims voting for in 2012?
/s

Khun Joe on June 18, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Paul increased his attendance by 50% even though overall attendance was way down.

No wonder Romney has refused to participate in grass roots events from now on instead expecting Establishment to carry him.

Spathi on June 18, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Spathi on June 18, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Take your Paulbot spam somewhere else.

stefanite on June 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

So the Virgina AG is being questioned, but Obama who sat in a church for over 20 years, listening to white hate isn’t?

Well I guess that about sums it up, doesn’t it!

capejasmine on June 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Spathi on June 18, 2011 at 3:52 PM

sheesh you’re pathetic.

what is the topic again?

CW on June 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM

It was clarified in Dearborn yesterday. Physical violence trumps your petty man made law. In a few years America will be like this guy, begging to be lead by the perfect ones. Muslims vote (if they are told to vote) as the Imam directs. It is called the Muslim voting block. Any politician that will pander and offer them some of the minor concessions they wish (like Sharia for Muslim divorce) can have them for a song or his soul.

BL@KBIRD on June 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

since they implicitly carry the fate of your eternal soul in their hands

Um……no.

That is between me and God. Pastors are teachers and guides. That power does not fall on them.

iurockhead on June 18, 2011 at 4:09 PM

The AG is clearly wrong from a Constitutional point of view. The First Amendment protects religious and political speech. The fact they are intertwined does not negate one. The AG is actually enunciating IRS guidelines that are blatantly unconstitutional and only used to threaten white conservative Christian congregations.

pat on June 18, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Spathi on June 18, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Him winning the straw poll almost sounds impressive. Until you realize that he only got 39.6% of the vote. Which incidentally was only 612 of 1542 votes cast. Hardly a grass roots groundswell. Remember Ron Paul was guy that got less votes than Margin of Error in all the polls in 2008. Don’t expect him to fare any differently this time around.

Tommy_G on June 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

The AG is clearly wrong from a Constitutional point of view. The First Amendment protects religious and political speech. The fact they are intertwined does not negate one. The AG is actually enunciating IRS guidelines that are blatantly unconstitutional and only used to threaten white conservative Christian congregations.

pat on June 18, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Churches have Constitutional protection for free speech, though no entitlement to IRS exemptions. Political contributions are taxable. Political groups can’t get around this by using churches as a tax shields.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

I’m all for it… Who are the muslims voting for in 2012?
/s

Khun Joe on June 18, 2011 at 3:49 PM

The same one they voted for in 2008: Ron Paul. Of course, now they have a new hero who could split their vote: Mitt Romney.

Connie on June 18, 2011 at 4:26 PM

But it’s OK to campaign in black churches if you’re a democrat.

docflash on June 18, 2011 at 4:28 PM

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Churches need to be taxed. They enjoy roads, police and fire protection just like any other business. There is no reason for them to be exempt. And doing so would put paid to restrictions on what they may or not say politically.

MJBrutus on June 18, 2011 at 4:31 PM

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Yeah lets see them try and tax black churches who go hard for every Democrat and do more to mobilize the black vote than any Acorn corruption could hope to do.

Daemonocracy on June 18, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Spathi on June 18, 2011 at 3:51 PM

No need to hijack this thread, Spazky, it’s in Headlines now.

PS, your 90 year old guy is now trailing the leader here in NH by 32 points, and is now in a 2 way tie with Bachmmann for second place.

Del Dolemonte on June 18, 2011 at 4:33 PM

MJBrutus on June 18, 2011 at 4:31 PM

I have to disagree on this one. Being taxed means they can be manipulated by the government and will become more politicized. Churches also do plenty of good work for their community and give plenty back willingly.

Daemonocracy on June 18, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Yeah lets see them try and tax black churches who go hard for every Democrat and do more to mobilize the black vote than any Acorn corruption could hope to do.

Daemonocracy on June 18, 2011 at 4:32 PM

I’m all in favor of it. The “Rev.” in “Sharpton” or “Jackson” is a con game, masking political activism as religious worship. That and building personal net worth.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 4:36 PM

You’ll pardon me for observing that the Attorney General, speaking in his official capacity, isn’t sounding particularly secular there.

Looks pretty secular to me. I don’t see anything that he’s saying that wouldn’t be appropriate in front of any other organization leaders.

Count to 10 on June 18, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Churches need to be taxed. They enjoy roads, police and fire protection just like any other business. There is no reason for them to be exempt. And doing so would put paid to restrictions on what they may or not say politically.

MJBrutus on June 18, 2011 at 4:31 PM

I disagree: all businesses/organizations should not be taxed.
Only citizens should be taxed.

Count to 10 on June 18, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Promoting GOP candidates: Against the law

Promoting Leftists from the pulpit: God is on their side

faraway on June 18, 2011 at 4:43 PM

No need to hijack this thread, Spazky, it’s in Headlines now.

PS, your 90 year old guy is now trailing the leader here in NH by 32 points, and is now in a 2 way tie with Bachmmann for second place.

Del Dolemonte on June 18, 2011 at 4:33 PM

No need to make fun of his name:

The Spathi are a cowardly race of “meta-mollusks”, self-described as possessing the “best qualities of both the clam and the Dravatz”. They have a colorful exoskeleton (possibly adopted by the Spathi due to their desire for safety1), a single jiggling eye, jointed pinching claws, and a single abalone-like foot, specialised for high-speed locomotion.2 As a race, the Spathi are absolute cowards and paranoid. According to Fwiffo, the Spathi live in constant fear of an undetectable phantom called the Ultimate Evil, which they are convinced lives just beyond the reaches of their most powerful long-range sensors.

Count to 10 on June 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

In respect to Governor Perry soliciting prayer, ( http://theresponseusa.com/ ) governors are not the only high public officials who have solicited public prayer. Apparently it started long ago.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

G. Washington.

http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=3584

SheetAnchor on June 18, 2011 at 4:52 PM

fairly clearly

You will to please fixxy quick quick, Mr. Jazz?

hillbillyjim on June 18, 2011 at 4:55 PM

The First Amendment keeps the government out of church, but says nothing of keeping churches out of government.

Slowburn on June 18, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Will he be giving this same instruction to his local mosque?

ramrants on June 18, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Take away the tax exemptions and the shamans can say whatever they want in the name of their church (mosque, temple). Oh wait, god is in desperate need of financial aid. But why should I be forced to contribute indirectly to con games like Scientology and Mormonism not to speak of that sociopathic ‘faith’ called Islam.

Annar on June 18, 2011 at 4:56 PM

But they cannot use their church to endorse anyone.

Heh, heh, does this include black churches and Obama?

Schadenfreude on June 18, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Churches have Constitutional protection for free speech, though no entitlement to IRS exemptions. Political contributions are taxable. Political groups can’t get around this by using churches as a tax shields.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

So you’re saying that government deciding levels of taxation based upon the exercise of free speech is not a violation of the First Amendment. Interesting.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Oh wait, god is in desperate need of financial aid.

Yeah, charitable contributions really suck.

But they cannot use their church to endorse anyone.

Heh, heh, does this include black churches and Obama?

Schadenfreude on June 18, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Not if they shout “GODDAMN AMERICA” loudly enough to rattle the rafters. Then it’s cool and stuff.

hillbillyjim on June 18, 2011 at 5:03 PM

This is not a hard question.

Religious leaders are as free to promote a certain political viewpoint as anyone else. Nor should this endanger their tax free status.

We don’t give churches tax free status because they are “neutral”.

We give churches tax free status to protect them from attempts by the government to control them. Attempts at control that have historically occurred and that the Founding Fathers wanted to protect against. Including attempts to silence churches into not speaking out against incumbents. Which is what these types of threats come down too.

Either religion is free or it’s not. If religions have to forswear political involvement then religion is not free.

Sackett on June 18, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Churches need to be taxed. They enjoy roads, police and fire protection just like any other business. There is no reason for them to be exempt. And doing so would put paid to restrictions on what they may or not say politically.

MJBrutus on June 18, 2011 at 4:31 PM

What a load of BS. Churches are not businesses. They sell no product or services, and are dependent on donations in order to exist. They are a CHARITY organization, by definition, which is why they are tax exempt.

JannyMae on June 18, 2011 at 5:12 PM

So what state can preachers not say “abortion”? To be honest, I think any church or preacher should be able to endorse specific candidates. The issue is about tax, not free speech.

Free Constitution on June 18, 2011 at 5:14 PM

So you’re saying that government deciding levels of taxation based upon the exercise of free speech is not a violation of the First Amendment. Interesting.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 5:02 PM

If it isn’t discriminating among political viewpoints in setting the rate.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 5:31 PM

The IRS cannot punish free speech. Most political organizations are tax exempt. There is no merit to the argument that the IRS can tax political speech, or even ideological or theological belief, ie, gay marriage, abortion,etc

pat on June 18, 2011 at 5:35 PM

The IRS cannot punish free speech. Most political organizations are tax exempt. There is no merit to the argument that the IRS can tax political speech, or even ideological or theological belief, ie, gay marriage, abortion,etc

pat on June 18, 2011 at 5:35 PM

Political contributions tend not to be tax deductible. Unions and commercial organizations have to separate out their lobbying and campaign activity and members can’t deduct those portions of their contributions.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Gerry Connolly supports radical mosques teaching hatred.

Don’t bring up the AG if you can’t go past the venue.

Roy Rogers on June 18, 2011 at 6:23 PM

If it isn’t discriminating among political viewpoints in setting the rate.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 5:31 PM

By its very nature it’s discriminating among political viewpoints. Freedom of speech is necessary to challenge the status quo. People who are getting everything they want, who find the system fair and just, who are not outraged and desiring change, are favored by that system because they have no need to speak out. Those who do want change are punished by it.

In summary:
Viewpoint A: Status quo is great!: Charge $0
Viewpoint B: Status quo sucks!: Charge $Bend Over
$0 < $Bend Over
Conclusion: Rate discriminates against B.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Conclusion: Rate discriminates against B.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 6:51 PM

The status quo can often outspend those seeking change. Giving them a tax break to do it doesn’t seem helpful, when the deepest pockets derive the greatest political benefit.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 7:12 PM

No need to make fun of his name:

The Spathi are a cowardly race of “meta-mollusks”, self-described as possessing the “best qualities of both the clam and the Dravatz”. They have a colorful exoskeleton (possibly adopted by the Spathi due to their desire for safety1), a single jiggling eye, jointed pinching claws, and a single abalone-like foot, specialised for high-speed locomotion.2 As a race, the Spathi are absolute cowards and paranoid. According to Fwiffo, the Spathi live in constant fear of an undetectable phantom called the Ultimate Evil, which they are convinced lives just beyond the reaches of their most powerful long-range sensors.

Count to 10 on June 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Starcon 2. What a great game. One you could even lose if you enjoyed exploring too much as I learned about 15 years ago.

I do have mixed feelings about the AG in this case. He clearly gave enough leeway for churches that any worth their salt would never come afoul of breaking his rules and risking their tax-exempt status. That said, I don’t see how you can threaten their tax-exempt status for political exemptions when we have eco-nut organizations and other leftist sites that are run completely tax-free who are overtly political.

njrob on June 18, 2011 at 7:52 PM

The status quo can often outspend those seeking change. Giving them a tax break to do it doesn’t seem helpful, when the deepest pockets derive the greatest political benefit.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 7:12 PM

My, how quickly you change. First, it’s fine as long as they don’t discriminate based on viewpoint. Now, it’s fine as long as they do discriminate against viewpoints you deem to be privileged.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 8:25 PM

But it’s OK to campaign in black churches if you’re a democrat.

docflash on June 18, 2011 at 4:28 PM

This.

Blatant racist discrimination.

tetriskid on June 18, 2011 at 8:33 PM

My, how quickly you change. First, it’s fine as long as they don’t discriminate based on viewpoint. Now, it’s fine as long as they do discriminate against viewpoints you deem to be privileged.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 8:25 PM

No change. No tax breaks for politicking, regardless of viewpoint. Your contention was that that view helps the status quo. I don’t believe that to be the result. I believe instead the opposite.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 9:27 PM

No change. No tax breaks for politicking, regardless of viewpoint. Your contention was that that view helps the status quo. I don’t believe that to be the result. I believe instead the opposite.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 9:27 PM

I emphasized the part of your own position that you do not understand. If you believe the exact opposite of my position, which is that the tax laws are biased in favor of the status quo, then you believe that the tax laws are biased against the status quo. Thus, the current tax laws discriminate AGAINST the status quo.

And you think that’s ok, because the status quo is privileged by having lots of money.

Regardless of who is right about which side is penalized more, the fact is: one side is penalized more. Hence, unconstitutional.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 10:26 PM

I don’t think Churches and pastors should be should be endorsing candidates for election because often times they will use a candidate’s religion as the reason why a candidate should or shouldn’t vote for a candidate.

We all know about pastors who have advised people to not vote for Mitt because he’s Mormon, or that a vote for a mormon is a vote for the LDS Church or that if they vote for a Mormon, they’re going to hell.

And it doesn’t have to be the LDS church. A Pastor could say, “don’t vote for Mr. X because he belongs to (insert religion here).

I have no problems with Churches endorsing/opposing issues like gay marriage or abortion or state assisted suicide. I just don’t like it when an ecclesiastical leader tells their flock that they can’t vote for a candidate because that person is of a different religion.

To me that is violating the Constitution both in letter and spirit.

If you want to see how the LDS Church handles this issue, read this.

Conservative Samizdat on June 18, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Shaw – Go write about something you might have actually know and comprehend. Tiddly-winks and marbles come to mind.

Go research the church/ state through original documentation, then try coming back to the adult table.

SheetAnchor posted a primer for you to start on.

AZ_Redneck on June 18, 2011 at 11:40 PM

Churches have Constitutional protection for free speech, though no entitlement to IRS exemptions. Political contributions are taxable. Political groups can’t get around this by using churches as a tax shields.

dedalus on June 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

So you’re saying that government deciding levels of taxation based upon the exercise of free speech is not a violation of the First Amendment. Interesting.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Dedalus has it right. To the government, a church is just another 501C3. Tax exemption is not a right; it is a special privilege. To qualify for this privilege, you have to limit your activities to those allowed for charitable organizations. Political endorsements are absolutely verboten and if any 501C3 (e.g. the Red Cross) were to endorse a candidate, their tax exempt status would be forfeit. This does make sense and is separate from the freedoms the rest of us enjoy.

Interesting cases in point — National Right to Life is not tax exempt, Planned Parenthood is.

Pythagoras on June 19, 2011 at 12:34 AM

And you think that’s ok, because the status quo is privileged by having lots of money.

Regardless of who is right about which side is penalized more, the fact is: one side is penalized more. Hence, unconstitutional.

JSchuler on June 18, 2011 at 10:26 PM

The tax law isn’t Constitutionally required to produce equal political outcomes–Not for protected classes of people (at least not yet), and certainly not for a vaguely defined concept such as “the status quo”.

I’d wager that incumbents would marginally benefit from a tax-breaks for political donations–though if the opposite were true my position wouldn’t change. If someone wants a tax break they should start a charity not a PAC.

dedalus on June 19, 2011 at 12:41 AM

Dedalus has it right. To the government, a church is just another 501C3. Tax exemption is not a right; it is a special privilege. To qualify for this privilege, you have to limit your activities to those allowed for charitable organizations. Political endorsements are absolutely verboten and if any 501C3 (e.g. the Red Cross) were to endorse a candidate, their tax exempt status would be forfeit. This does make sense and is separate from the freedoms the rest of us enjoy.

Interesting cases in point — National Right to Life is not tax exempt, Planned Parenthood is.

Pythagoras on June 19, 2011 at 12:34 AM

The fact that the government does an unconstitutional action with one group of people is not a defense of the constitutionality of it doing the same thing with another group.

The tax law isn’t Constitutionally required to produce equal political outcomes–Not for protected classes of people (at least not yet), and certainly not for a vaguely defined concept such as “the status quo”.

Please quote where I stated that the tax law is required to produce equal political outcomes. You were the one who implied that leveling the playing field against those people unfairly using their money was a good thing.

JSchuler on June 19, 2011 at 1:58 AM

You were the one who implied that leveling the playing field against those people unfairly using their money was a good thing.

JSchuler on June 19, 2011 at 1:58 AM

I’m indifferent to the outcome and the outcome shouldn’t drive the decision. Your original observation regarding Viewpoint B is what I was referring to. I doubt a change in the tax law would benefit them, but whether it does is tangental to my point.

dedalus on June 19, 2011 at 2:15 AM

I’m indifferent to the outcome and the outcome shouldn’t drive the decision. Your original observation regarding Viewpoint B is what I was referring to. I doubt a change in the tax law would benefit them, but whether it does is tangental to my point.

dedalus on June 19, 2011 at 2:15 AM

Your point was

If it isn’t discriminating among political viewpoints in setting the rate.

So, no, it’s not tangential. It’s your entire point. Do you now wish to abandon it?

JSchuler on June 19, 2011 at 2:21 AM

The argument is lost. You bog your selves down in minutiae, while missing the obvious. Political speech and religion is what the First Amendment was about. The idea that it can be punished because the IRS does not like what is said is absurd.
If anyone actually believed that, they would ask that all 527′s be made illegal. That all Mosque’ be declared taxable bodies. That Black churches be audited via every sermon reviewed by a Republican.
Of course no one believes that. Catholic ant white evangelicals need to be silenced. The rest are laudable.
It is a abhorrent to the Constitution and will not stand.
Even the nut case Ginsberg, the zombies Breyer and Souter will get the picture.

pat on June 19, 2011 at 2:36 AM

So, no, it’s not tangential. It’s your entire point. Do you now wish to abandon it?

JSchuler on June 19, 2011 at 2:21 AM

The viewpoints of the political organizing don’t matter.

dedalus on June 19, 2011 at 2:41 AM

The viewpoints of the political organizing don’t matter.

I have demonstrated that it does. The law favors pro-status quo and anti-status quo organizations differently. You have conceded this point yourself as you disputed who it really benefited.

Political speech and religion is what the First Amendment was about.

pat on June 19, 2011 at 2:36 AM

Indeed, pat. The content-neutral arguement is a distraction. A law that limits everyone to 1000 words a day before being taxed may be content-neutral, but it clearly abridges speech.

JSchuler on June 19, 2011 at 2:54 AM

Any question on Jesse Jackson, Rev, Sharpton and Rev. Jerimiah Wright openly supporting candidates from the pulpit?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

What part of “prohibiting the free exercise therof” do they not understand?

dthorny on June 19, 2011 at 9:51 AM

I always thought that the purpose of churches, temples, etc. was to instill the values of religion in you so that when you left you carried those values with you everywhere – including the ballot box. A priest/rabbi/minister/yogi whatever that requires a checklist and an endorsement to guide their worshippers wouldn’t seem to be on the ball.

dieudonne on June 19, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

What part of “prohibiting the free exercise therof” do they not understand?

Churches exchanged absolutely free exercise for tax exempt status. Churches don’t have an inherent right to go without taxation – did people think it was going to come with no strings attached?

dieudonne on June 19, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I disagree: all businesses/organizations should not be taxed.
Only citizens should be taxed.

Count to 10 on June 18, 2011 at 4:40 PM

if businesses what the legal fiction of being persons in order to obtain the rights of citizens then they need to pay up the way other citizens do.

dieudonne on June 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM

To those who think our system of 501C3s is abhorrent, you can believe in no tax exempt organizations or that they all should be tax exempt. Before the US had taxes, you had one of those alternatives.

However, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that our current system of 501C3s is unconstitutional. Find someone, anyone, with significant legal credentials who agrees with you.

Good luck.

Pythagoras on June 19, 2011 at 12:17 PM

To me that is violating the Constitution both in letter and spirit.

Conservative Samizdat on June 18, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Please quote the part of the constitution that says churches are to stay out of politics. This does not say that.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Slowburn on June 19, 2011 at 4:19 PM

A persons religion is part of who he is. If a man is honest in business, does not cheat on his wife, or when playing solitaire, and is kindly in word, and deed, but is also a Voodoo priest, or a Muslim, or any other religion I have a serious problem with, I am not going to vote for him.

Slowburn on June 19, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Just think how many things this wouldn’t even be any issue for if they hadn’t been made political issues.

Of course churches should be able to influence their congregations on matters like abortion. How can that even come up for debate?

Of course churches (and synagogues, and mosques) should be able to influence their congregations regarding personal sexual behavior of all kinds. No matter what the people have decided to make a political issue, it is the function of churches to express moral opinions on those matters.

If you think it’s OK to silence churches by designating something a “political” matter, congratulations: you’re a 20th-century leftist. The next stop will be criminalizing religious texts. You’ve already bought into the principle on which that can be done.

J.E. Dyer on June 19, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Many of the commenters missed a simple part of this post:

A personal endorsement of a candidate is permissible under the law, he said at the Virginia Christian Alliance’s “Christian Citizenship and Godly Government Breakfast.” But they cannot use their church to endorse anyone.

Ken Cuccinelli spoke to a Virginia ministers’ breakfast
The clear implication is that he was invited.

Just what topic might a bunch of Christian ministers want to hear from the state AG? How about legal effects on their congregations? Particularly financial?

BTW Ken Cuccinelli lead Virginia in a suit against ObamaCare, the one 22 other states joined. The one he still leads. Just sayin’.

Caststeel on June 19, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Slowburn on June 19, 2011 at 4:19 PM

It certainly violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The founding fathers had no problems with people saying prayers in Congress or holding Church in Congress…but I think they would most certainly frown on ecclesiastical leaders having litmus tests, a checklist and an endorsement for which candidate vote for as a guide for their worshipers.

The Fathers were clearly aware of what happens when you mix politics with religion since they saw and studied the history of Europe.

Keeping the citizenry good and moral was the Church’s job, not the state’s according to the Founding Father. Its the Church’s job to teach you how to live a good life, not whom you should vote for in the ballot box.

Conservative Samizdat on June 20, 2011 at 1:43 AM