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On Sunday 1000 Anti-Gay Pastors Think They’ll Be Breaking The Law In The Name Of God And Freedom

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In a premeditated and coordinated act, over 1000 religious leaders — preachers, pastors, and priests — across the nation have pledged to preach against same-sex marriage in Church this Sunday, and thanks to a push from conservatives like Jim Garlow, NOM Chair John C. Eastman (audio), NOM’s Bishop Harry Jackson, and the Alliance Defending Freedom, many of them think they’ll be breaking the law. By law, hundreds of thousands of religious organizations and employees are allowed to not pay any taxes, but must respect the IRS code and federal law that requires them to not support or oppose any political candidate or party. So unless a pastor, for example, condemns President Barack Obama for supporting same-sex marriage or for being pro-choice, for example, or the Democratic Party for including support for same-sex marriage in its platform, these supposedly activist pastors aren’t breaking the law. The Alliance Defending Freedom, (ADF, and formerly the Alliance Defense Fund before one of its allied attorneys was reportedly convicted of engaging in child porn) is a legal group that pretends to be the ACLU of the religious right. On Sunday they’re sponsoring yet another “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” and this time their mission is to stamp out public support for same-sex marriage:

Marriage – it is the basic building block of society. Yet it is under attack like never before. Alliance Defending Freedom has fought to protect the freedom of America’s pulpits because we know that the pulpit must be free to convey biblical Truth on the great moral and social issues confronting our culture. On June 9, 2013, join thousands of your fellow pastors by preaching biblical Truth about God’s design for marriage.

What they seem to be trying to do is convince pastors across the nation that there’s a vast left-wing conspiracy to take away their First Amendment rights if they speak against same-sex marriage, and the ADF is there to fight for them.

The ADF, in enticing pastors to speak out against same-sex marriage on Sunday proclaims:

Make your voice heard by participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday on June 9, 2013. Make sure your congregation knows where the Church stands on marriage. The Bible has not changed.  God’s Word remains true that homosexual behavior is wrong and that marriage is as God Himself defined it in the beginning pages of Scripture – between one man and one woman only.  Public opinion cannot change Truth. But Truth must be proclaimed to be believed and adopted.  And that is where your role as a pastor comes in. You are to proclaim the Truth of God’s Word “in season and out of season.” (2 Tim. 4:2).  After all, God’s Word is profitable for, among other things, teaching and correction. (2 Tim. 3:16). But, as the Apostle Paul reminds pastors, how are others to hear God’s Truth without someone preaching to them? (Rom. 10:14-15). The fact of the matter is that our society desperately needs to hear what the Creator of marriage and sexual behavior says about what He created. That’s what Pulpit Freedom Sunday this year is all about – marriage. Pastor, please do not let this opportunity pass you by.

And thanks to groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, many of these 1100 or so pastors who have signed up for “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” may think they’ll be breaking the law — but unless they go out of their way to do so, they likely won’t be. “Pastors have the right to freely speak to their congregations on political matters from a biblical perspective without undue regulations by the government,” the Alliance Defending Freedom proclaims, noting they “launched the Pulpit Initiative in 2008 to assert and reclaim this right.” That right was never taken away. Even when churches and other religious institutions and religious leaders have specifically broken IRS regulations and the law, the federal government has looked the other way and ignored it. In fact, last year, the very conservative Washington Times published this:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a watchdog group based in Madison, Wis., filed a federal lawsuit this week that cited the Oct. 7 actions of 1,600 pastors who violated the tax code on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” – a nationwide display of free speech. After weeks of silence from the IRS, the Freedom From Religion Foundation took the matter to court. “This looks like the only way to get some action out of the IRS,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the foundation. She said the foundation has written to the IRS about the issue for years, but Pulpit Freedom Sunday was the last straw. “The tipping point would have been the braggadocio of [1,600] pastors claiming they endorsed from the pulpit. The number of complaints we’ve received has been escalating, and we have no explanation from the IRS. This is our way of finding out what is going on.” The IRS media relations office declined to comment, saying it does not comment on court cases. Erik Stanley, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said a lawsuit is exactly what his group was looking for when it launched the Pulpit Freedom Sunday initiative in 2008 to challenge the Johnson Amendment, the part of the tax code that requires nonprofit groups not to engage in political speech as a condition of that status.

This law, by the way, granting tax-exempt status to churches, synagogues, temples, priests, pastors, preachers, and many others costs American taxpayers an estimated $71 billion annually. Yes, your hard work — regardless of your religious beliefs — is subsidizing the acts of the tax-exempt elite. And yet, just like the dozens of Tea Party organizations claiming victimhood because they believe they are entitled to a tax-exempt status without having to follow the law, many of these 1000-plus pastors, organized by the ADF, have decided that they too are entitled to special privileges — and don’t have to follow the law that gives them that allowance. In other words, these pastors, the men of God, want to have their cake, not pay any taxes on it, and eat it too. The IRS notes that to retain their tax-exempt status, religious organizations:

■ must not devote a substantial part of their activities to attempting to influence legislation, ■ must not participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, and ■ the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.

What’s amusing is that the 1100-plus pastors who signed up for “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” may think they’re engaging in an act of civil disobedience and are breaking the law in the name of God, but unless they attack a political party or politician to their sermon, they’re legally allowed the preach against same-sex marriage all they want. What’s also amusing is that, increasingly, their congregations don’t want to hear it — and are fleeing them because of it.

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BREAKING NEWS

Federal Appeals Court Rules House Can Have Trump’s Tax Returns – Committee Expects Them ‘Immediately’

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A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. ruled Tuesday that the powerful House Ways and Means Committee can be given Donald Trump‘s tax returns.

The decision is “a blow” to the former president,” as CNN reports. It comes after a Trump-appointed lower court judge had ruled against Trump, allowing the House to gain access to the documents Trump has protected for years.

The former president appealed.

READ MORE: Tax Researcher Reveals Ivana Trump Being Buried at Bedminister Gets Her Ex-Husband a Ton of Tax Breaks

The federal appeals court Tuesday morning upheld the lower court’s ruling, granting the House access. Trump can still appeal.

The House Ways and Means Committee was quick to respond, tweeting: “We expect to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.”

This is a breaking news and developing story.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘God Anointed Him’: Christian Right Expert Explains Conservative Outrage After FBI Raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

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Veteran journalist Sarah Posner, who has spent years writing about religion and the Christian right, has an explanation for the outraged response from some Trump supporters over the FBI executing a legal search warrant on Mar-a-Lago.

Hours after the news broke, Florida Republican state representative Anthony Sabatini called for “an emergency legislative session” to “Sever all ties with DOJ immediately” over the FBI executing a legal search warrant of Trump’s home. “Any FBI agent conducting law enforcement functions outside the purview of our State should be arrested upon sight,” he wrote, apparently unaware of the U.S. Constitution.

Tuesday night Trump supporters formed a small convoy driving outside Mar-a-Lago, some with Trump banners, Trump flags, or the American flag, – even one vehicle painted with the American flag – to show their support for the former president who might be facing legal consequences, as video from NBC 6 reporter Cristian Benavides shows.

READ MORE: ‘This Is a National Security Issue’: Former FBI Agents Note Key Details About ‘Raid’ on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

“The GOP position is that Trump is above the law,” writes The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent. “That’s what the GOP position on Trump was throughout his presidency, and that’s what it is now. Say it that way. Don’t let Republicans get away with using fake outrage to obscure this fundamental reality.”

Posner has written two books on the Christian Right including “UNHOLY: How White Christian Nationalists Powered the Trump Presidency, And the Devastating Legacy They Left Behind.”

In response to Sargent’s remarks she advises: “Remember too that much of Trump’s base believes that God anointed him, that it’s God’s will that he be back in the White House. And that they need to engage in ‘spiritual warfare’ with ‘demonic’ enemies of Trump — keep this in mind as right-wing influencers call for civil war.”

READ MORE: IRS Under Trump Allowed a Decades-Old Influential Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group to Change Its Tax Status and Become a Church

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Monday night tweeted, “The FBI is raiding President Trump’s home in Maralago! This is the rogue behavior of communist countries, NOT the United States of America!!! These are the type of things that happen in countries during civil war. The political persecution MUST STOP!!!”

Tuesday morning CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan posted a graph and noted the “big spike in tweets referencing ‘civil war’ right after the news of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago broke last night.”

Dr. Caroline Orr Bueno posted an image of a large number of tweets that mention civil war and other related calls, including: “I already bought my ammo,” “Civil war! Pick up arms, people!” “Civil War 2.0 just kicked off,” “Let’s do the war,” and “One step closer to a kinetic civil war.”

 

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News

‘This Is a National Security Issue’: Former FBI Agents Note Key Details About ‘Raid’ on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

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Two former FBI agents are weighing in on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s execution of a search warrant Monday at the Florida residence of Donald Trump, the former President, which he called a “raid.”

“This is a nat sec/CI issue,” tweeted Asha Rangappa Tuesday morning, meaning national security and counterintelligence. Rangappa is an attorney, former FBI special agent, senior lecturer at Yale, and CNN commentator.

She was pointing to a tweet by another former FBI special agent, James Harris.

READ MORE: ‘Coverup of Treason’: Trump-Appointed IG, Under Investigation, Knew of Missing Secret Service and DHS Texts Far Earlier

Harris has an extensive bio, highlights of which include his role at FBI HQ Cyber Division as a Program Manager and then Unit Chief (Acting), FBI Senior Liaison Officer to DHS Cybersecurity and Communications, and FBI Assistant Section Chief of the Counterterrorism Internet Operations Section. Earlier in his FBI career he says he “built up the largest Federal Cybercrime Task Force in the US.”

Harris points to this section of a CNN article published Tuesday morning, written by seven CNN reporters:

“In early June, a handful of investigators made a rare visit to the property seeking more information about potentially classified material from Trump’s time in the White House that had been taken to Florida. The four investigators, including Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department, sat down with two of Trump’s attorneys, Bobb and Evan Corcoran, according to a source present for the meeting.”

READ MORE: Trump’s Legal Team Now in ‘Direct Communication’ With DOJ Officials About J6 Criminal Investigation: Report

Harris on Twitter highlights this sentence: “The four investigators, including Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department…”

He tweets: “All you ‘outraged’ GOPers better cool your jets. You might be walking your rhetoric back really fast when you figure out what this seems to be. The devil is in the details.”

In January the National Archives was forced to transport from Mar-a-Lago 15 cartons of documents and other items that, according to the Presidential Records Act and the National Archives, should have been turned over to the Archives.

The FBI’s execution of the search warrant and reports that they left with a large quantity of documents suggests Trump might not have turned over everything taken from the White House.

Rangappa earlier Tuesday tweeted: “Ask yourself: What kind of info makes its way to the WH, and specifically to the president? —> HIGH LEVEL SECRETS. PDB stuff. Defense info. These aren’t low-level diplomatic cables or overclassified State Dept. correspondence. Just saying.”

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