Americans United Advises Churches To Reject Religious Right's Pulpit Politicking Scheme

For Immediate Release

Americans United Advises Churches To Reject Religious Right's Pulpit Politicking Scheme

WASHINGTON - Americans United for Separation of Church and State is urging houses
of worship to reject Religious Right appeals to politicize their
pulpits.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a group founded and funded by TV
preachers, is urging evangelical pastors to openly break federal tax law
this Sunday by using the pulpit to endorse or oppose candidates. The
ADF calls its stunt “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

“This is the worst idea ever,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive
director of Americans United. “Clergy serve as spiritual advisers, not
political bosses. Pulpit politicking violates federal tax law and
offends the vast majority of church-goers.

“The nation is already bitterly divided over politics this year,”
Lynn continued. “Now, Religious Right political hacks want to haul that
divisiveness into America’s houses of worship. Clergy should just say
no.”

A provision in the Internal Revenue Code bars all 501(c)(3)
organizations, which includes houses of worship, from intervening in
elections by endorsing or opposing candidates.

Americans United has been working aggressively to counter
misinformation from the ADF. AU chapters, members and activists across
the country are distributing informational letters to houses of worship about the provisions of tax law regarding nonprofits and electioneering.

Americans United also has unveiled a new Web site – www.projectfairplay.org – that gives information about what churches can and can’t do in the political arena.

Lynn notes that the American people overwhelmingly oppose partisan
politicking in houses of worship. A recent survey by the Pew Forum found
that 70 percent of Americans say churches should not endorse candidates
during elections. Only 24 percent backed the move.

As Pew noted, “These opinions have changed little in recent years.
More than half of every major religious group opposes such
endorsements.”

Opposition has also come from an unexpected quarter. Fox News Channel
host Glenn Beck said July 1, “I’d walk out of a church that was telling
me vote for a Republican or vote for a Democrat.”

Lynn said pastors should be wary of schemes promulgated by the ADF
and groups like it. He also vowed that Americans United will report any
church that breaks the law to the IRS.

“The Alliance Defense Fund is asking pastors to take part in a
reckless, dangerous and unethical scheme,” Lynn said. “Religious leaders
should send the group packing and reject Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

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Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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