From THE WALL OF SEPARATION:
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said on “Hot Tea” radio yesterday that she is sick of “radical leftist organizations” that “intimidate Christians” from speaking about politics from the pulpit.
Bachmann called for Congress to repeal the federal law that prevents all 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, including houses of worship, from endorsing or opposing candidates.
“We need to repeal that,” she said, “and give Christians back their First Amendment rights to free speech in the church.”
We couldn’t disagree more. Federal law prevents the use of tax-exempt resource to electioneer; it isn’t about silencing or “intimidating” churches or church members. Clergy retain their free speech rights to talk about social and moral issues of the day. And if they want to take that a step further and use their church to campaign for a candidate, they can – they just have to forgo the benefit of a tax exemption. But they can’t have it both ways.
Americans United [for Separation of Church and State] has been very vocal over the years explaining why our churches should not be used as political machines. It’s a necessary outgrowth, we believe, of the Constitution’s promise to keep church and state separate.
Entangling politics with religion – as Bachmann thinks we should do – only ends up exploiting our houses of worship.
We have a perfect example of this in New Mexico this week, where Drew Degner, campaign manager of Farmington city council candidate Bob Moon, designed a scorecard that surveyed all the candidates on their religious and social values, including church attendance.
Though Degner claimed his scorecard tactic wasn’t an attempt to “advertise” for Moon, it certainly seems that way. One could even argue that he wanted to convince his fellow congregants whom to vote for so he could turn the church into a campaign headquarters of sorts.
If Bachmann has her way, I’m sure she would like to see that happen in all churches in the country – at least those churches that think the way she does.
Fortunately, what Bachmann wants isn’t what most Americans want. Eighty-seven percent of Americans agreed that pastors shouldn’t endorse candidates during worship services, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.
That’s because most Americans recognize that to preserve church-state separation, no law should be based solely on any particular religious belief, and no candidate should be chosen for his or her beliefs, either.
It’s time Bachmann and her allies get on board with majority of Americans and stop claiming federal tax law is hurting our houses of worship. In fact, it’s doing just the opposite.
During Monday’s Hot Tea Radio Show U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann told listeners that she’s “fighting for my political life,” called for a repeal of the separation of church and state, and said that tea partiers need to “literally start banging garbage lids together” to defeat health care reform. Right off the bat, Bachmann offered a refrain often made in her media appearances, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is personally targeting her in the 2010 election (last month she went so far as to say Pelosi “hates” her). It’s a claim that was recently proven misleading by the Star Tribune, and even Bachmann’s handlers say it’s not quite true.
Bachmann was asked what religious leaders can do to help get conservatives elected. She responded that Congress should repeal the ban that prevents 501(c)3 nonprofits and churches from endorsing candidates. (In Bachmann’s first run for Congress, Living Word Christian Center Pastor Mac Hammond got into hot water for endorsing Bachmann from the pulpit.)
The reason why clergy are afraid to be involved is because of an amendment that former President Lyndon Johnson passed when he was a senator from Texas… that stops 501(3)c [sic] organizations from saying anything political from the pulpit. Now, churches can be political from the pulpit. They can talk about issues all they want. What they can’t do is endorse a candidate from the pulpit. But the ACLU has been all over the backs of churches… Christian and Jews and people of faith are not second class citizens… but these radical leftist organizations have been intimidating Christians for so long and pastors don’t generally now that they do have the right to speak out from the pulpit. Congress should repeal that amendment from Lyndon Johnson… We need to repeal that and give Christians back their first amendment rights to free speech in the church.
Bachmann wrapped the appearance up by saying Tea Partiers need to make even more noise:
That’s why with everything within us we need to literally start banging garbage lids together to create enough noise so that our neighbors and our co-workers realize where the time clock is at this point because the second hand is literally banging up against 11:59 on the clock of freedom when it comes to health care… we cannot rest; we can’t take our marbles and go home.
Health care only for those who can afford it? How Christian of you, Batshit Bachmann.