Churches have the luxury of not paying taxes, and one of the requirements of that perk is that they don’t get to endorse candidates for political office. They can speak out against marriage equality, abortion, sex education, evolution etc. all they want… but pastors can’t tell their congregations, “Jesus wants you to vote for the Republican in this race.”
This isn’t about free speech, because pastors have every right to pay taxes and play politics. But they can’t have it both ways.
Not that Trump understands any of that nuance.
As recently as last night, in Jacksonville, Florida, he was telling the crowd how he plans to overturn the law barring politicking from the pulpit.
Evangelical support. Tremendous evangelical support. But I asked them, we are going to take out the language, because, basically, they’re being silenced. And I don’t want my minister or my pastor to be silenced. I think they should have a right to speak.
And that goes for all religions, too.
So we’re gonna get that taken out. Very important. And remember this also… we’re gonna get it taken out. It’s very unfair. It’s really free speech! I actually pointed to them in the room when they were telling me this, because they said “we can’t get involved politically.” I said, “That’s too bad.”
And I pointed — I was in a building, one of my buildings in New York… — I pointed down on the street. I said, “That means that any one of those people on the street have more power than you. Any one of those people! They have more power than you do, because they can say what they want to say.” It’s very unfair. I found it to be very unfair.
And you look at religion, what’s going on in this country and it’s not fair and it’s having a hard time, and it’s having a hard time because they’re not allowed to speak. And we’re gonna give them the right to speak!
What Trump didn’t mention, because he doesn’t understand the issue, is that those people on the street pay taxes. If the churches are willing to give up the gift of tax exemption, no one would be stopping them from endorsing candidates.
Though as it stands right now, even if they do endorse candidates, they may get away with it. The IRS hasn’t revoked a single church’s tax exempt status despite promising to do so under these very circumstances.
Still, telling churches they have to abide by the law isn’t stifling their free speech. It’s reminding them that they have a choice — and they’ve chosen not to pay taxes.
(Thanks to Zeke for the link)