Why I Am Participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday — Wayne Grudem
By Wayne Grudem
This Sunday I have agreed to join nearly 1,500 pastors nationwide and participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom. In my sermon, I plan to recommend that people vote for one presidential candidate and one political party that I will name. We will then all send our sermons to the IRS.
If you participated, please tell us how your sermon was received in the comment section below.
This action is in violation of the 1954 “Johnson Amendment” to the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing any candidate by name. But in our nation, a higher law than the IRS code is the Constitution, which forbids laws “abridging freedom of speech” or “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion (First Amendment).
I fully understand that many pastors might never want to endorse a candidate from the pulpit (I have never done so before and I might never do so again). But that should be the decision of the pastors and their churches, just as it was in 1860 when many pastors (rightly) decided they had to tell citizens to vote for Abraham Lincoln in order to end the horrible evil of slavery. When the government censors what pastors can preach, I think it is an unconstitutional violation of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
Because tax regulations cannot be challenged in court unless someone is first found in violation by the IRS, it seems to me that intentionally disobeying for the purpose of bringing the issue into the court system is a way of being “subject to the governing authorities” as Rom. 13:1 tells us to do. This is the only way under our “governing authorities” that a tax law can be challenged in court for being in violation of our Constitution.
I have compiled a list of 24 differences between the two parties on issues with a moral component. Here are some of them where the parties differ:
The rule of law (vs. judges who change the original meaning of the Constitution), freedom of religion in public expression (vs. freedom of worship in private), protection of life (vs. glorying in unrestricted abortion rights), the preservation of marriage (vs. promoting same-sex relationships as “marriage”), the limitation of federal power (vs. an unconstrained federal government), parental choice in education for children of all income levels and all races (vs. protecting a government-regulated monopoly on schools), turning back government overspending and avoiding debt that we cannot repay (vs. reckless spending that threatens to bankrupt our children and our nation), caring for the poor by reducing taxes to leave more money in the job-creating private sector (vs. ever-increasing taxes that drain money from job-creating businesses), a strong military to protect us and the many small democracies that look to us for protection (vs. damaging defense cutbacks that leave smaller nations, the world’s sea lanes, and our own nation increasingly vulnerable), and a commitment to stand by Israel (vs. snubbing its leaders and demanding that it make ever-greater concessions).
How can anybody be silent when this much is at stake?
I emphasize the differences between the two parties because, in America today, people in reality are voting for the party more than for the candidate: Laws today are not passed by individuals but only by one political party or the other, under the leadership of that party’s elected officials. And the national leaders of the two parties are more deeply committed than they have ever been to vastly opposite views on these moral issues.
Americans need to choose which set of positions best represents their view, and then vote for candidates in the party that represents that column. That is what I will recommend this Sunday . . . but I will name names.
Wayne Grudem is Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Ariz., and the author of Politics According to the Bible.
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