- November 7, 2013
- By Staff / Baptist Standard
Nothing is free, including tax-exemption
“Politicking and pulpits—setting the historical context” skims over a basic but important part of the restriction of politicking from the pulpit.
This restriction applies to churches only as a result of the tax-free status they choose to take advantage of through 501(c)3 non-profit status. This status is a privilege allowed to all 501(c)3 organizations—church, soup kitchen or community education group alike—the cost of which is an agreement to not engage in political speech.
If churches do wish to engage in political speech from their pulpits, they are perfectly free to do so, if they are willing to forfeit their tax-exempt status. If churches wish to have both tax-exempt status and the ability to endorse candidates from the pulpit, they are asking for special treatment by the government that is not afforded to nonreligious organizations. This would be a violation of the constitutional rights of other citizens, as the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal treatment by the government for all.
So remember, when churches complain about their inability to engage in politicking, they are only complaining about the cost of the tax-free status they have freely chosen to accept.
As the old saying goes, nothing is free—and that includes tax-exempt status.