In the weeks before the November 2012 election, Billy Graham released this print ad:
“On Nov. 6, the day before my 94th birthday, our nation will hold one of the most critical elections in my lifetime. We are at a crossroads and there are profound moral issues at stake. I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms. The Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues. Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn our hearts back toward God.”
And Obama’s IRS went after him for it. Politico reports,
Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the family’s international humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, said that the IRS notified the organizations in September that it was conducting a “review” of their activities for tax year 2010.
“While these audits not only wasted taxpayer money, they wasted money contributed by donors for ministry purposes as we had to spend precious resources servicing the IRS agents in our offices,” Graham wrote in the letter, which was shared with POLITICO. “I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us. This is morally wrong and unethical – indeed some would call it ‘un-American.”
I do not believe the timing of this IRS audit was coincidental. Obviously it was done in advance of the election but also Pulpit Freedom Sunday an effort by the Alliance Defending Freedom to Not that the news media paid much attention, but October 7, 2012 was the month Pastors were being encouraged to hold a “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” to talk plainly and unabashedly about the election and its implications on Christendom.
But what should be reported is that the targeting by the IRS goes even deeper than what is just reported. Because the IRS has been targeting churches since the passage of the Johnson Amendment in 1954. There is no difference between what the IRS has been caught doing with conservative groups and what the IRS has done to churches for the last 59 years. Both are intimidation. Imagine the impact of a system of intimidation targeting a particular group left unchecked for over half a century. Because that is exactly what has happened with America’s churches.
The Johnson Amendment was passed in 1954 because Senator Lyndon Johnson did not like the views of his political opponents. It was a naked attempt to keep the reins of raw power in his own hands and to silence non-profit groups who opposed his reelection because they believed he was soft on communism. Johnson devised a clever way to target these groups, and his amendment to 501(c)(3) of the tax code has since been applied to intimidate churches and pastors across the country into silence on the moral qualifications of candidates and the positions they hold.
As we see every election cycle, black churches in the south are often the sites of overt political proselytizing from the pulpit–BY THE CANDIDATES THEMSELVES! For the rest of the churches the IRS and Democrats want you to shut up.
Last fall I urged my Pastoral staff to urge people to vote.
America is the world’s last best hope for freedom of religion. Or it was. Judging by the HHS mandates against the Catholic church’s freedom of religion, assaults on freedom of speech in which that ridiculous “movie” maker was perp-walked to get a photo-op to appease terrorists, and economic enslavement to a debt, there’s deep cause to worry about the future of our country. We’re on the edge of fiscal collapse. You already know of our moral degradation. Our children, grandchildren and on and on will pay tomorrow for our excesses of today.It doesn’t have to continue.If you don’t fearlessly speak truth from the pulpit about the stakes of this election, who will? Please consider participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday (see information below). You actually have a First Amendment right to do so (see below).“We have learned a bit too late in the day that action springs not from thought but from a readiness for responsibility.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from PrisonI realize you may think I’m “going nuclear” with a Bonhoeffer quote. However, considering our continued appeasement to Iran, its leader’s promise to annihilate Israel, its continued efforts to build a nuclear bomb and the announcement this week that they now have a delivery drone that can be deployed to Israel, I believe it’s appropriate.We need in America a leader who believes in the exceptional nature of this country, who believes that government is there to serve the individual, not the other way around. We’ve seen much degradation of this value in just the past four years. I can’t imagine what we’re in store for if this President has free reign for another term. Indeed, this election will decide if we will become a nation of citizens– or serfs.Victoria Taft
“We have learned a bit too late in the day that action springs not from thought but from a readiness for responsibility.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison