Taxman vs. the Preacher

By Tony Perkins

Last week the IRS told the Freedom From Religion Foundation that it will begin monitoring churches for violating its policy on pulpit speech. Will they send monitors into churches or perhaps listen to sermons posted online? We don’t know yet. The IRS refuses to disclose the details on how it may target churches but the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is trying to find out. ADF has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn the details of the IRS’s agreement with the atheist group. ADF’s Christian Holcomb told the media, “Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups…what it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day.”

If the IRS follows through on targeting churches, ADF may finally have the test case that it has been seeking to challenge a 1954 IRS regulation that has been unconstitutionally used to muzzle what churches can and can’t say about elections. For years, the IRS code was used to create a culture of intimidation until FRC and ADF began working together to restore the free speech rights of our nation’s clergy. Since 2008, thousands of pastors have participated in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” – a day in which they boldly preach God’s Word as it applies to public policy and politics. The American people are clearly growing weary of the idea that the IRS should be given special speech-police powers over any American, especially when it comes to what’s said in the pulpit. Bottom line as ADF argues: the church and its pastor decide what is said in church, not the IRS.

IRS emails released earlier today provide a little more insight into what the IRS thinks of conservatives. Lois Lerner, a former IRS official who has been under investigation in the IRS targeting scandal, sent emails using expletives to describe conservatives and referred to tea party groups as “crazies.” The IRS continues to arrogantly use your tax dollars to engage in targeting and even name-calling. Now they tell us churches are on their target list.

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These appalling abuses point to a need for urgent Congressional intervention. But more importantly they underscore the need for a spiritual renewal in our country. The solution begins in the pulpits of America. Pastor Jack Hibbs, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills and a board member of FRC’s National Pastors Council, is one of many pastors leading the way to provide that solution. This morning he did a great job in his interview on Fox and Friends responding to the IRS’s church monitoring plan. Please watch the interview below and encourage your pastor to participate in this year’ Pulpit Freedom Sunday which will be held on Oct. 5. Go to for more information.

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.)

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

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