As readers of this blog know, ADF has conducted Pulpit Freedom Sunday since 2008. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is a legal project designed to restore a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing government censorship or control. The government, by applying the Johnson Amendment to churches and pastors, has been mandating that certain content in a pastor’s sermon is off-limits and can result in penalties against the church. ADF launched Pulpit Freedom Sunday in 2008 to challenge the constitutionality of the Johnson Amendment. We believe that it is unconstitutional for the government to attempt in any way to censor a pastor’s sermon.
In 2008, 33 pastors preached sermons evaluating candidates in light of Scripture and then making specific recommendations about those candidates. They sent their sermons to the IRS. The number of pastors increased to 84 in 2009 and increased from there to 100 in 2010. Last October, the amount of pastors jumped dramatically to 539 pastors who participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday! These pastors made their sermons public. They were not preaching secretly or trying to “get away” with something. Rather, these pastors sincerely want to regain their right to speak freely during their sermons without having to wonder or fear if a government agency is going to punish the church because of something the pastor said from the pulpit.
Over six months have now come and gone since Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2011. And it has been over four years since Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2008. Yet the IRS has remained silent. No pastor has been punished or threatened with punishment by the IRS for participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. I’ve speculated before about the reasons why the IRS has remained silent. But, in reality, the reasons are unimportant. What is important is that the IRS has said nothing and done nothing in response to Pulpit Freedom Sunday.
We cannot let up and must continue to march forward to regain a pastor’s right to speak without the presence of the government in the pulpit. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is coming up on October 7, 2012. Please, if you are a pastor, sign up to participate this year in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. And if you are not a pastor, then send every pastor you know a link to our website at www.pulpitfreedom.org. All the information any pastor needs to become aware of the issues and to sign up to participate is on the website. We must continue our efforts to get the government out of the pulpits of America. Will you stand together with us and hundreds of other pastors this October?