At the Feb. 2 National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump promised to “get rid of and totally destroy” the IRS regulation which states that as a condition of their tax-exempt status churches cannot endorse or oppose political candidates. He stated this regulation infringes on the “right to worship according to our own beliefs.”
President Trump is totally misinformed on this IRS regulation. It has nothing to do with the right to worship. This right is guaranteed by the first amendment to the constitution.
If a church wishes to endorse politicians, it is free to refuse its tax-exempt status and endorse as it wishes. Individual pastors and church members can endorse whoever they please but not as an official spokesman for their church. America has a long tradition of not using pulpits and TV ministries supported with tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes instead of for religious purposes.
Churches have been and remain able to speak out on moral, social, and ethical issues. They have a right to state their doctrinal beliefs as it relates to issues in the public domain from the pulpit and in their church ministries.
If we open our churches to manipulation by political candidates, they will cease to be known for their doctrinal beliefs and instead for their political goals. Instead of having Baptist and Methodist churches we will have Democrat and Republican churches.
When those who wanted to destroy Jesus’ ministry tried to get him to take a political position regarding the Roman government, he said, “”Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. President Trump and those religious leaders who want to use our churches for political objectives are violating the spirit and the message of Jesus’ teachings.