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 inÂ childÂ 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 â€“ 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 Americaâ€™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 Godâ€™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 theyÂ 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 SundayÂ proclaims:
Make your voice heard by participating inÂ Pulpit Freedom SundayÂ on June 9, 2013. Make sure your congregation knows where the Church stands on marriage. The Bible has not changed.Â Godâ€™s Word remains true that homosexual behavior is wrong and that marriage is as God Himself defined it in the beginning pages of Scripture â€“ between one man and one woman only.Â Public opinion cannot change Truth. But Truth must be proclaimed to be believed and adopted.Â And that is where your role as a pastor comes in. You are to proclaim the Truth of Godâ€™s Word â€œin season and out of season.â€ (2 Tim. 4:2).Â After all, Godâ€™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 Godâ€™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. Thatâ€™s what Pulpit Freedom Sunday this year is all about â€“ marriage. Pastor, please do not let this opportunity pass you by.
And thanks to groups like theÂ Alliance Defending Freedom, many of these 1100 or so pastors who have signed up forÂ “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 theÂ Pulpit InitiativeÂ in 2008 to assert and reclaim this right.” That right was never taken away. Even when churches and other religious institutionsÂ 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 â€œPulpit Freedom Sundayâ€ â€“ a nationwide display of free speech. After weeks of silence from the IRS, the Freedom From Religion Foundation took the matter to court. â€œThis looks like the only way to get some action out of the IRS,â€ 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. â€œThe tipping point would have been the braggadocio of [1,600] pastors claiming they endorsed from the pulpit. The number of complaints weâ€™ve received has been escalating, and we have no explanation from the IRS. This is our way of finding out what is going on.â€ 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:
â– must not devote a substantial part of their activities to attempting to influence legislation, â– must not participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, and â– the organizationâ€™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 forÂ “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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MN Police Officer Sentenced 3.5 Years for Death of George Floyd
Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Keung has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the death of Black city resident George Floyd.
Keung, age 29, had accepted a plea deal in order to avoid an additional charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. His guilty plea acknowledged that the restraining holds used by police on Floyd were excessive and likely to cause serious harm.
Video of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder at the hands of city police captured footage of Keung kneeling on Floyd’s back while another officer knelt of the man’s neck. for over nine minutes, officers applied pressure to Floyd while he laid face down in the street, crying and telling officers that he couldn’t breathe while also calling out for his mother.
Video of Floyd’s murder sparked international outrage and inspired protests against institutional racism and police brutality.
Keung is the fourth and final police officer to receive prison time for his role in Floyd’s death. He will serve his new sentence and a federal sentence for Floyd’s death concurrently, serving a total of about 2 1/2 years for the killing.
Virginia Republican Files Bill Defining a Fertilized Egg as a Human
Virginia State Delegate Marie March (R) has pre-filed House Bill 1395, a law that would define life as beginning at fertilization.
“Life begins at conception and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States,” the proposed bill states.
The proposed bill would effectively outlaw all abortions in the state and even endanger the use of Plan B (aka. “The morning-after pill”), a medication that prevents fertilized egg cells from attaching to a woman’s uterine wall.
The bill could also effectively criminalize in vitro fertilization, a method of inducing pregnancy that uses fertilized eggs and discards any unused ones.
Even though Republicans control the state’s House of Delegates, it’s unclear if the bill would have any chance of passing the state’s Democratic-led Senate. The legislature won’t reconvene until January 11, 2023.
Virginia currently allows a woman to get an abortion within roughly 26 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed passing a law that would reduce that window to 15 weeks, a period of time in which most women may not even realize they’re pregnant.
In response to March’s bill the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said in a statement, “In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and despite the vast majority of Virginians who oppose it, Virginia’s anti-abortion elected officials keep proving there are no limits to their extremism and true intentions to ban abortion for all Virginians.”
Georgia GOP Says Its Voting Restrictions “Backfired” & Helped Dems Win Senate Seat
When two Republicans lost Georgia’s special runoff senate elections in January 2021, state Republicans in the General Assembly re-wrote voting laws to restrict absentee ballots and give voters fewer days to vote in future runoff elections.
However, after Republicans lost yet another runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat — with Herschel Walker losing to his Democratic competitor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, earlier this month — state Republicans want to re-re-write the rules, hopeful of a more favorable outcome.
Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), the official who oversees the state’s voting procedures, said he plans on giving three proposals to lawmakers when they return to the General Assembly in January.
“[The proposals] include forcing large counties to open more early-voting locations (in an attempt to reduce the hours-long lines some voters waited in) … lowering the threshold candidates must achieve to avoid a runoff from 50 percent to 45 percent; and instituting a ranked-choice instant-runoff system that would not require voters to come back to the polls again after the general election,” The New York Times reported.
To be clear, it’s unclear whether these changes would’ve helped Walker win. But they stand in contrast to the changes state Republicans made to voting laws following their failed January 2021 Senate runoff ambitions.
The changes after that time severely restricted the types of people eligible to receive an absentee ballot. While 24 percent of the January 2021 vote came via mail-in absentee ballots, the rule changes resulted in 5 percent of mail-in votes coming in for the January 2022 runoff.
Republicans also lowered the number of in-person early voting days to five (though the rule change allowed counties to add extra days.) The Times found that 28 of Georgia’s 159 counties opted to add extra in-person early voting days — 17 of the counties that did largely backed Warnock while 11 backed his challenger.
Before the recent run-off election, Raffensperger also tried to enforce a state law forbidding in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, Warnock successfully sued to prevent the law from going into effect.
Overall, the changes may have “backfired,” Republicans told The Times, actually encouraging Democratic voters to come out in greater numbers.
While Republicans point to the large turnout of runoff voters as “proof” that their changes didn’t discourage voting, Warnock’s campaign criticized the changes, saying that such restrictions shouldn’t make it harder for people to vote in the first place.
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