Monday, October 8, 2012

Screwing Around With the Constitution - Is This a Concerted Effort to Suppress Religion

 The IRS recently threatened to go after the nonprofit status of churches whose  pastors included political ideas or instructions in their sermons to their congregations or in their literature, brochures and pamphlets. Cruise the net and you'll discover tons of angry vitriolic calls for Christians (mostly) to sit down and shut up where politics are concerned, calling for the muzzling of religious groups under the principle of "separation of church and state".

Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in the separation of church and state.  The constitution (the amendments part anyway) clearly forbids the government to establish any state religion and not to meddle with churches governance or the exercise of the principles of any church's faith by it's members.

The Amendment which guarantees these rights, however, does not, forbid religious people or their leaders from sticking their nose into government by lobbying or the exercise of the freedom of the press, speech or assembly.  The establishment clause is a one way prohibition.  It clearly restricts the government from meddling with one's religion, not vice versa.  Free exercise is a right of the citizenry. The government is not allowed to interfere with that.

Pastors, under the free exercise amendment can say whatever they want to, ask their members to vote anyway they want to and even lobby if they wish. If union leaders can do it, why not pastors.  Union leaders instruct their members as to how to vote all the time and nobody's going after them for that!  I listened in to a live SEIU union teleconference in Washington State last week that was nothing less than a political rally for Democrat candidates.  The freedom of assembly, speech and the press allows them to do that.

Trying to say churches cannot do the same thing is at the very least trying to game the system in favor of nonreligious groups and at worst an attempt to suppress the free exercise of religion at worst.  If nonprofit animal rights and environmentalist groups can do what they do and maintain their nonprofit status, churches must be allowed to do the same.

The American Constitution is a unique document in that it protects citizens from the government. Nowhere in there is anything that protects the government from it's citizens.

I'm just sayin'

Tom King

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