This Sunday was Pulpit Freedom Sunday, and Pastors led their churches all over the country in defying an amendment to the tax code introduced by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson almost 60 years ago. Pastors preached politics from the pulpit in direct defiance of the Johnson Amendment, because they believe it is unconstitutional, and they are hoping to raise the ire of the IRS to prompt a lawsuit, or 2000.
This isn’t new. Pastors who understand the Constitutionality of their First Amendment Right to Free Speech have been defiantly doing this for years. They have preached their political endorsements from the pulpit and then sent the video to the IRS, only to be ignored. Few were slapped on the wrist with a warning letter, but none were able to elicit the reaction that would lead to the court battle that would decide this once and for all. This time, more than 1600 churches across the country participated. This will be hard for the IRS to ignore.
My pastor invited me, a political analyst, to do my job, and join him in his pulpit for some “good ol’ fashioned politickin.” I wrote about it on Townhall.com last week, and it was subsequently posted on DrudgeReport.com. My pastor, Dr. Jim Garlow, scrambled between his beloved wife’s bedside in Texas, back to California to shepherd his flock, to the hostile media who thought they would get the better of this pastor. He appeared last week alone on CNN, The Colbert Report, and numerous other national interviews to educate the public (including many in his own religion) about this massive assault on freedom, and why it matters. Interview after interview resulted in a brilliant application of the Constitution that the media simply could not challenge. Dr. Garlow walked in, humbly took the questions, laid out the truth, and ended the debate. This should thrill anyone, regardless of political affiliation, who believes in the fundamental right to free speech. That is the delicious irony of the matter that created a media appetite that they could not satiate.
Apparently the issue has traction, whether or not you agree with it.
I don’t get butterflies in my stomach over much anymore, but when Pastor Garlow invited me to participate in something I am so passionate about, I was straight-up nervous. I have spoken about this topic for years on air, and this was my chance to undergird a man who has bravely stood on the front lines, despite threats and opposition that few could handle under normal circumstances, let alone as his beloved wife lay ill in another state. I prepared for what I would say in my analysis. I could not have prepared for the emails I received from those with other opinions:
“Dr. Gina: The pulpit is NOT the place for your First Amendment fight. Can’t you keep your fight on Fox News, or your radio show instead of forcing those of us who don’t want politics in the pulpit to have to endure it?”
How can someone oppose the First Amendment by flexing their First Amendment muscle to tell me that they don’t think we should have Freedom of Speech? That concept is lost on me. Why does a pastor need to forfeit his First Amendment right when he is ordained?
If this wasn’t political or religious (but fundamental) to me, it certainly was to others:
“Dr. Gina: This is just a way for you and your right wing radical zealots (sic) to implore (sic) your Mitt Romney on our churches. This is just more intolerance and the radicalization of America. You are a racist, and this proves it, because black pastors did this first.”
“Dr. Gina: Do you really think you can get away with this? This is your islamophobia and your hatred of liberals motivating all of this (sic).”
Do they not understand that this is a right guaranteed to us in the Bill of Rights protecting ALL free speech? This frees the Muslim to preach in his mosque, the Rabbi to preach in his synagogue, and the Atheist to assemble in his meeting place.
“Miz Louden (sic): I don’t want my preacher preachin (sic) politics all the time! I hear that crap all week and all the commercials is that now (sic) and I don’t want to here (sic) this on Sunday. Please stop your crucade (sic)!”
“Gina: All due respect, I usually read your posts and enjoy them, but I believe church should be about God, and not about politics. People have many channels for politics, but in my opinion, the church should be sacred.”
Allowing the freedoms for others is not imposing anything on anyone. No one will be required to preach politics from the pulpit, but shouldn’t all religious leaders have the freedom to say what they want to say? Isn’t that the question?
This really exposes statists, because they complain about the conspiracy of a Christian theocracy, so they should be the first to want to ensure that if that were to happen, meetings of Atheists could not be banned based upon them being deemed “political.” Right? What am I missing?
But then there are the traditionalists:
“I hope the IRS gets these idiots.”
Shall we respond with, um, “we appreciate your support?” That is the whole point. The “idiot” part by someone missing that point is Shakespearean and delicious, don’t you agree?
Then there are the Bible thumpers:
“Ms. Loudon, before you self-righteously call out “cowardly pastors” pause and take some advise from God’s Written Word, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 ~
I take issue with those who purport to be Christians and spout out-of-context scripture fragments at people in a desperate attempt to attack them. I am quite sure that the other scripture this emailer knows is “turn the other cheek.” Those who hate Christianity seem to enjoy throwing those two fragments at Christians. They demonstrate their utter ignorance of everything Christians stand for, and prove their own bias.
I stand by my assertion that we, as Christians, could have done a lot more than we did to prevent our cultural, and subsequent political decline. That means pastors, other clergy, and we who warm the pews on Sundays, and vote at a rate of less than 50%. There is no excuse for this, and I won’t apologize.
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