The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Sour Grapes Turn More Bitter: How the Opponents of Proposition 8 Show That They are Getting More Desperate in their Fight Against the State Marriage Amendment

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Before the November ballot measure was voted on, the supporters of same-sex marriage were fired up because they just knew they would win this vote. Then the votes were tallied; they lost.

But did losing a statewide ballot measure bring opponents of Proposition 8 back to reality to realize that their state was just not ready to see same-sex marriage legalized? No. They instead decided to fight back with vandalism, harassment, threatening, intimidation, anything and everything they could think of to show their disdain for the people who voted to support Proposition 8.

Then they had a brilliant idea. They would claim that the measure was unlawful and that the people had no right to even be voting on the issue. But after such action even some of their staunchest supporters, such as Justice Joyce L. Kennard, were not interested in hearing arguments against the new state amendment. (Click here for an article relating to Justice Kennard)

So the final straw has been plucked, the last line crossed, a last-ditch effort to gain some legal ground in the fight to overturn Proposition 8. The new assertion is that churches “violated their tax-exempt status” by supporting Proposition 8, says an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. (Click here for the full article).

Well, this just shows the desperation that same-sex supporters are feeling. Without a doubt it is ridiculous to even entertain the idea that a church has violated its tax-exempt status for supporting a statewide ballot measure. And even Proposition 8 opponents are willing to admit to that.

Barry Lynn, Executive Director of American United, a very vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, and very strong advocate against churches in the political arena, said:

“They almost certainly have not violated their tax exemption. While the tax code has a zero tolerance for endorsements of candidates, the tax code gives wide latitude for churches to engage in discussions of policy matters and moral questions, including when posed as initiatives.” (Read the above referenced article in the San Francisco Chronicle for the full article).

I do not agree with Mr. Lynn on many issues, but he nailed this one right on the head. But it would appear that many in the general public are confused about the legal boundaries afforded to non profit organizations, 501c(3), which include churches and schools. One person in the San Francisco Chronicle article said “The Mormon church overstepped its boundaries by being a tax-exempt organization. They clearly are not supposed to be involved in political activities.”

This is a fundamental misnomer that is driving many pastors and churches, out of fear and intimidation, to be silent on political matters. The truth, however, is that churches are free to be involved, and pastors are free to support candidates. Churches, as a non-profit organization are not allowed to endorse any candidates, though pastors themselves are free to do so.  

Matt Staver, President of the Liberty Council, has published some very informative, educational, and legal documents on where churches stand with politics and the IRS code. (Click here for information from the Liberty Council website). (Also check out the Alliance Defense Fund website for more information).

But what is the greater issue at stake here? It’s simply that more and more a liberal minority is seeking to silence the voices in the church and do anything and everything possible to keep those voices from reaching streets and communities.

Many, like Mr. Lynn, would like to believe that this is simply a civil rights issue that will not negatively affect the church. But the reality, even according to same-sex supporters, is that this is just a stepping stone that will eventually limit free speech and expression of religion. (Read this article for an interview with Family and Marriage analyst Jenny Tyree of Focus on the Family).

Here are a few tips from Matt Staver and the Liberty Council that every pastor and church should keep in mind when threatened with their tax-exempt status:

– Since the 1954 IRS Code changes were made there has NEVER been a church lose its tax-exempt status for pastors evaluating candidates in the light of Scripture from the pulpit.

– No church is required to carry a letter from the IRS to prove that it is tax-exempt. Churches, by their very nature are tax-exempt.

-The tax-exemption of churches is renewed daily. So, if a church were to somehow lose their tax-exempt status on Monday for some violation, it would be renewed on Tuesday.

– “The government can’t demand that a church give up its right to tax-exempt status simply because the pastor exercises his First Amendment rights in the pulpit.” (Read the full article at World Net Daily).

It seems it would do us all well, church member and non church member alike, to remember that we are all entitled to our opinion. And we are free to disagree with one another. And we should be willing to respectfully agree to disagree with those who hold to opposing viewpoints.

To be able to look someone in the eye and disagree civilly is perhaps the highest issuance of respect one person can give another.

Food For Further Thought:

Read this World Net Daily article on pastors in politics.

Check out the web pages of the Alliance Defense Fund and the Liberty Council for more information on the legal freedoms of pastors, churches, and politics.

Read this article Could Democracy Be Getting a Black Eye? for remarks and comments out of California on the Proposition 8 fight.

 

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Family Policy Council of West Virginia

 

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  1. […] Vote Sour Grapes Turn More Bitter […]


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