Monday, May 16, 2005

Say Your Piece and Render Unto Caesar

Always the last to know, I had not heard until today of Representative Walter Jones's House of Worship Freedom of Speech Restoration Act. The purported idea of the bill is to protect the freedom-of-speech rights of church leaders to endorse--from the pulpit--campaigns and candidates without fear of having the church's tax status revoked.

I think this is a lousy idea.

Is anyone (including the IRS) saying that a clergyman or woman cannot speak in favor of a particular cause, candidate, or campaign? No, only that if they do so under the aegis of the church the institution's tax status may be reviewed. In much the same way, I am free to say that Politician X is a lying, scum-sucking weasel, subject to the possibility of a libel suit. If supporting the candidate of your choice (or excoriating one you loathe) is so important to you that feel you cannot in good conscience keep silent on the subject while in the pulpit, then you should be ready to take the consequences--or your organization should. Otherwise, give your personal endorsement when you've climbed down from the lecturn.

If this dreadful bill manages to get through Congress, my only hope is that the liberal ministers take it and run--since it seems pretty clear to my eye that Jones is only concerned about the freedom to speak of conservative clergy endorsing conservative candidates. It would be very nice if this turned around and bit people in the ass.

Next thing, you've got doctors refusing to help someone who won't listen to their endorsements, or pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for drugs or services they don't approve of, of--no wait, we've already got that happening. I dunno. I thought the founding fathers were on to a good thing with that Separation of Church and State thing.

Representative Emanuel Cleaver, a United Methodist pastor, former Kansas City mayor, and congressman, notes that he never endorsed someone in his church. "'When the church and the state sleep together, the church rises the next day without respect. The church must retain its purity.'"

So must the state. It's a rather tattered purity, but it's important, nonetheless.


Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

"Freedom of Speech Restoration Act"? Republicans are so shameless in the demogoguery of their bill titles.

Private organizations that collect money -- i.e., income -- pay taxes on that income. If they seek an exemption, on the grounds of being a non-profit or a religous organization, they can do so, so long as they qualify. The requirements are not onerous. If they can't meet them, then they pay income tax on the money they take in, just like General Motors or the freelancer down the street. "Freedom of speech" has nothing to do with it.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I suppose the "Everyone Except The People Who Like Us Just Shut Up Act" isn't as aggrandizing and stirring as "Freedom of Speech Restoration Act."

1:31 PM  
Blogger C. F. Blog said...

I know what you are saying…where are the people, the out rage, the outcry, the people who shout from the window "I'm mad as hell and I don't want to take it anymore!" I’m sorry to say but people have changed, everyone is too busy working or playing life. Until someone comes to their own door and disrupts their life, people will stay complacent. When I read your blog-article I thought no, this is not good and I don’t like it. I think that’s were many people stand. But, at the same time they don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb.

When the founding fathers signed the Declaration they were basically signing their own death warrants. We say they were great men today, but back then most of the ones who signed their name though wealthy at the time by the end were not.

To take great strides to rise above the ordinary, you’d have to sacrifice yourself, give up the normal goals of home, family and friends.

3:50 PM  

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