The Hice and Lows of Pulpit Freedom

If House leaders get their way, this weekend’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday may be our last! Thanks to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), every day may be Pulpit Freedom Sunday if H.R. 6195 passes. Yesterday, I joined them for a press conference to talk about their new bill: Free Speech Fairness Act, which would finally give pastors the protection they need to speak openly about the candidates and issues of the day. “It’s time that we eliminate the targeting of the IRS. Enough is enough and this has been going on for far too long,” Rep. Jody Hice said. “And this is absolutely unconscionable that our government would force individuals to choose between their constitutionally protected rights or their faith.”

For years, liberals have used a 60-year-old change to the tax code to intimidate churches into silence on politics. The reality is, pastors are just as entitled to express their views from the front of their church as outside it. As I told the group yesterday, “Government bureaucrats should not be the bouncers to the doorway of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.” The legislation makes it clear that religious groups and leaders can talk about political subjects without fear of IRS punishment. But that doesn’t mean pastors can become political operatives. The bill only protects the rights of churches and nonprofits “so long as they are made in the ordinary course of the organization’s regular and customary activities in carrying out its exempt purpose.” And those should be things both parties support.

Until then, FRC is encouraging pastors and churches to join with us this Sunday, October 2, for Pulpit Freedom Sunday. All we’re asking ministers to do is to preach an election sermon and urge your congregations to call Congress. You can do both with a whole host of free resources on our website. Don’t miss your chance to take a stand against the forces of political correctness trying to silence the church!

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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