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Self-directed tax plan could allow churches to participate in politics

A Florida law professor has a solution to the controversial ban on political activities for churches

My head hurts thinking about the ban on political activities for charities, especially when churches are involved. The mix of politics and religion is lethal to more than just family gatherings. It is a death knell for rational debate whenever the two subjects arise, as they do when pastors endorse candidates from the pulpit.

The mix is so toxic that the IRS seems stymied. When it warns churches each election cycle about making endorsements or hosting candidates, the churches claim their First Amendment rights of speech and religion are under attack. If the IRS does not act to rein in the preachers, equally strong voices declaim against a government subsidy of political activity (through a tax exemption), against an unconstitutional establishment of religion (again, through the church’s tax exemption) and against favoritism of churches over other charities. The discussion usually ends there and nothing changes.


Bruce D. Collins

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