House Tax Bill Restores Free Speech for Churches, Pastors

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(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) The House of Representatives voted to include parts of the “Free Speech Fairness Act” to the GOP tax bill that would prohibit government discrimination of religious organizations.

Jody Hice/Photo by Gage Skidmore

The bill would allow churches, and all 501(c)(3) organizations, to openly advocate political opinions.

Practically, pastors would be allowed to discuss and advocate for political views from the pulpit.

Churches and other non-profits have had their speech limited since 1954.

PREVIOUSLY: Trump Vows to ‘Destroy’ LBJ Rule Barring Churches from Political Activity

In an article for The Hill, Rep. Jody Hice, R-Georgia, traced the limitations on free speech back to Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson.

“In order to achieve tax-exempt status, churches and nonprofits have essentially given away their right to free speech, else they risk facing the wrath of the IRS, a federal agency that has the power to destroy lives,” Hice wrote.

Christiana Holcomb, Legal Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, supported the House’s decision to include the Free Speech Fairness Act in the tax bill.

“America’s pastors don’t need a federal tax agency to police their sermons, and so we commend those in the House who supported free speech fairness language in the amended tax bill,” she said. “Churches and their pastors have a constitutionally protected freedom to decide for themselves what they want to say or not say.”

The bill would give pastors the same rights as citizens in political campaigns.

They can endorse candidates, speak for or against candidates, and encourage their congregation to vote for specific candidates.

The IRS has investigated religious organizations in the past and clearly has the power to destroy organizations it ideologically opposes.

“Recent polling demonstrates that religious leaders don’t want to be burdened by the continual threat of an IRS investigation and potential penalties based simply on what they say from the pulpit,” Holcomb said.

PREVIOUSLY: Time to Restore Free Speech to American Churches That LBJ Stole

Hice, a former pastor himself, says religious leaders often don’t discuss politics due to intimidation.

“Every election cycle, pastors across our country receive alarming letters from anti-religious organizations threatening to report the church to the IRS should they engage on topics considered to be an ‘issue advocacy.’ Even worse, the proverbial elephant in the room is the agency’s inconsistent approach to applying the law and its failure to clarify standards for enforcement,” Hice wrote.

The GOP tax bill would clarify the IRS’s role in regulating the political speech of churches and allow pastors to clearly speak their conscience.

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  • jcrawdad

    House Tax Bill Restores Free Speech for Churches, Pastors

    ONE THING THE HOUSE NEEDS TO ADD,!!! WHEN THEES PEOPLE COME INTO THE COUNTRY LEGALLY THEY LEAVE THEIR LAWS AND CUSTOMS BEHIND AND THEY AS EMULATE INTO OWE LAWS AND CUSTOMS, AND ENGLISH SPECKING . IF THEY WANT TO LIVE IN AMERICA .NO IF’S AM’S OR BUTS ABOUT IT. MAKE IT THE LAW OF THE LAND .

  • James Ruddy

    The Imam at your local mosque will be thrilled with this decision!

    • brooksmd

      You mean it will just legalize what they’ve always been doing?

      • Tracy

        You got that right! Odumbo knew that but of course did nothing except encourage it but only for the Imani’s of course!

        • Wumingren

          The Deep State even shut down law enforcement investigations into seditious teachings in mosques. Muslims understand safe haven rules that the West adheres to such that mosques in the Middle East have become untouchable armories and terrorist shelters. Should they not expect to boldly emulate those bastions of power right here in America?

  • If a political issue is contrary to a religion’s beliefs, then they do have the right to speak out. That does not mean that the nation has to adhere to their point of view. No, they cannot be punished for speaking out.

    • Gregg Parker

      But they can. The Johnson Amendment gave the government the gag order and permitted them to remove their tax free status… that was the punishment for speaking out…

      • Gregg,

        That is why we have this new legislation. It puts a stop to government shutting down free speech.

        • Fed up!

          Jerry
          I am fine with the new legislation, but a tax bill is just that, stop this nonsense of add 💩 To these bill other than what they are intended fore.

          • Fed Up!,

            I can agree with that. The legislation does sort of fit in a tax bill but should stand alone.

        • Gregg Parker

          I understand that they are including this language in the tax cut bill… did they actually pass legislation short of the EO which addresses the change in the language of 501(C)3 ? That’s what you seem to be saying. If so I missed that… and thanks!

          • Gregg,

            Apparently the legislation is in the new tax bill. It sort of fits but I would rather see the legislation stand on its own.

          • Gregg Parker

            Thank you… that was why I questioned your initial post. The EO gave certain protections in lieu of the law but cannot change the wording of the current law. Adding it to the tax legislation may end up seeing it become a bargaining chip for something else instead of it becoming law… the left really would like to keep this out of the final bill and will use their Rinos to push to remove it with concessions… we can keep hoping but if it goes to the cutting room floor it is unlikely they will be taking it up before Roy Moore is seated…

          • Gregg,

            Moore better get elected. Too bad I cannot vote for him.

  • Gregg Parker

    If only one church had been bold enough to stand and speak the truth and dare them pull their tax free status… we may have been able to upset that apple cart years ago and would not have permitted what it has progressively become over the last 16 plus years… thanks POTUS for pushing this… hopefully they won’t bargain it away in reconciliation… I won’t hold my breathe however.

  • Reflect

    If you are christian…..no free speech…. If you are muslim….do as you please…including Sharia Law.. I Oboma have spoken…..

    • Gregg Parker

      If you like your freedom you can keep it… If you like your laws you can keep them too!…for the moment….

  • mari

    Liberal churches have never been threatened by the IRS. They have been preaching their leftist dogma consistently. This will just level the playing field.

    • Handydan1

      There are liberal churches?

      • mari

        I live in California and we have liberal EVERYTHING. Those churches let their democrat candidates come and speak directly to the congregations. Conservative pastors were quiet as church mice.

  • Yosemite Sam

    Finally a POTUS who fully understands what is wrong with the SWAMP in Washington DC.

  • kenhowes

    As a pastor, I certainly welcome anything that prevents government retaliation against me for anything I might preach or teach, or for expressing a personal view outside of my church. Personally, my right to express political opinions should not be subjected to a possible punishment of my church. As a pastor, my actions will not change from what they have been. I make no partisan appeal in anything I preach or teach. When a social issue has a moral or religious dimension to it, I address that dimension without attacking or promoting any politician. That will continue.

    • Gregg Parker

      That’s to your credit. Jesus NEVER played politics… he played Savior.

  • Old School

    Be careful what you wish for fools!! This also gives the Muslims, Mexican Roman Catholics, orthodox Jews and every other religious organization in the country the right to expound from the “pulpit” their political views. This just might backfire on those who do not understand the concept of separation of church and state, which was the founding principle upon which our country was established. So sad!

    • Naval Lint

      The Muslims are already trying to get laws passed to protect their hate speech. And “free speech” is already banned on most college campuses. What would you suggest happen? Additionally, I really tired of pointing out that “separation of church and state” ONLY applies to the GOVERNMENT being PROHIBITED from FORCING ANY PARTICULAR THEOLOGY on American CITIZENS!!!! It has NOTHING to do with religion other than THAT!!!

      • Old School

        Have you attended a mosque to hear this hate speech or are you just passing along hearsay? And you are WRONG about the separation of church and state. The government will not interfere with the citizens expression of their faith AND the church will not interject its positions into government (remember when Catholics ran Rome?). And finally, you remember that the folks from England came to our shores to escape religious persecution. People like you are the ones that will prove the old adage…..Those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

        • Naval Lint

          I am always amused when Liberals reference history, even as they attempt to destroy it. I would ask you where all of the “radicalization of extremist Muslims” occurs, but as all Muslims are as peace-loving, inclusive and tolerant (just as all Liberal Democrats are), I’ll just say “have a nice day.

    • Mark Johnson

      There is no such thing as separation of Church and state ! That is a myth created by pagans and the Godless. And it most certainly was not the founding principle of our country . Man read a book once and a while !

      • Old School

        Our founding fathers went to extraordinary lengths to insure that there would be no “official” religion in America. You, sir, are the one who needs to read a book. Preferably a book on the history of the founding of America and the drafting of our Constitution. Since you will never accept the reality of the truth, I will use the same departing comment as Naval Lint, I’ll just say …..”Have a good day.”

        • Mark Johnson

          …..
          First of all the phrase ” Separation of Church and state ” appears nowhere in the founding documents. It is only found in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Church. It was a letter ensuring it’s members, that the new Govt being formed, would not infringe on their freedom of worship. The founding Fathers were not pagans, they were a majority death deists and Christian’s. This is why the first amendment talks about freedom “of” religion, not freedom “from” religion. So it is you Sir that needs to read a book. I read plenty of them, and often ; )

  • Naval Lint

    In my opinion, as Islam is a form of government as well as a barbaric theology, our nation would be within it’s legal rights to ban Islam from our shores.

    • But are the idiots in washingdoom smart enough to do what is really needed ?

      • Naval Lint

        Based on performance to date…NO!
        Hence, “DRAIN THE SWAMP!”

        • Sounds good the sooner the better .

  • Heidi Kuhl

    Once again, thank God for Trump. It was the “preachers” speaking from the pulpit that had a profound influence in the writing of our founding documents. We once again can learn from their wisdom. This country was “founded” on sound Christian principals partly “because” of our preachers! Obama be damned!

  • Fed up!

    How about a clean nothing more than tax lowering bill period you dam Criminal Politicians.

  • Sylvia Avila

    Great news! About time!

  • Louie Rey

    And that’s the way it should have always been.

  • What’s this say about today’s churches? The government restores their free speech???

    What it says is that today’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporations-I mean, churches–no, I mean corporations–have made the government the head of their churches:

    “…Many pastors pay homage to today’s non-Christian government by their annual “pilgrimage” to the Internal Revenue Service to petition the government (something done to a god) for a renewal of their church or ministry’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt incorporation status:

    ‘A church that voluntarily initiates an ‘application’ to the state for ‘corporate’ status … and [501(c)(3)] ‘tax exemption’ has petitioned the state to dictate its right to exist and prosper. Thus, the church consents to a change of its STATUS from a ‘lawful’ assembly of PRIVATE CITIZENS, to that of a ‘legal’ gathering of PUBLIC SUBJECTS.’52

    “By definition, a corporation is a creation and, therefore, a minion of the State. In other words, when a church incorporates under the government, the government, rather than Christ, becomes its head. Bishop Leonard H. Bolick of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America provided an inside witness to the fact that incorporated churches are agents of the state rather than ambassadors of Yahweh:

    ‘…the church, when it comes to marriage, is an agent of the state.’53

    “Bishop Bolick was not limiting the states’ involvement in incorporated churches to simply marriage. Incorporated churches are agents of the state in all matters that the state, as its creator, dictates….”

    For more, see “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,” the second in a series of ten free online books on each of the Ten Commandments and their respective statutes and judgments. Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Online Books page and scroll down to title.

  • Thank GOD for free speech ! But keep your guns because it was to easy for them to take it away !