Monday, September 27, 2010

Wingnut Ministers Proudly Break US Law.

From the ADF:

LEAWOOD, Kan. — Pastors from approximately 100 churches nationwide participated in the Alliance Defense Fund’s third annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday on Sept. 26. The pastors preached sermons related to biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates or current government officials, exercising their constitutional right to free religious expression despite a problematic Internal Revenue Service rule that activist groups often use to silence churches.

So, over 100 ministers decided to violate IRS rules which they consider "problematic," and that's supposed to be Okay? And, of course, like most wingnuts, they claim that people are trying to "silence" them. Listen, Reverend. No one is trying to "silence" you. You can say whatever you want. It's just that if you're going to endorse candidates, you can't claim to be a tax-exempt organization. That's it. You just have to choose.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an event associated with the ADF Pulpit Initiative, a legal effort designed to secure the First Amendment rights of pastors in the pulpit. The Pulpit Initiative is part of the larger ADF Church Project.

Again your First Ammendment rights are not at issue. I can say whatever I want and endorse whatever candidate I want, and I have to pay income tax. If you want the special privilege of not paying taxes, you have to give up endorsing candidates. Why would you think that you should have it both ways?

So, I wasn't familiar with the ADF until I heard this story. Turns out, they're pretty much what you'd expect, promoting phony stories like this:

The Doors of the Church are Being Bound

The Church is Being Silenced Across America

Growing government intrusion into the affairs of the Church is posing a serious threat to church autonomy and our most basic religious freedoms. Pastors are being censored, the proclamation of God’s Truth is being blocked, and churches are being discriminated against and threatened with punishment.

Really? Let's take a quick look at that claim. How is "God's Truth" being blocked? Unless you consider "Vote for Smith" to be "God's Truth" I don't think you have anything to back that up. But let's say that "vote for Smith" really is what you're talking about when you say "God's Truth." Let's look at this story about one of your member pastors in the USA Today:

"For governor, I'm going to encourage people to vote for Bill Haslam," said David Shelley, pastor of Smith Springs Baptist Church here, one of seven Tennessee religious leaders who plan to take part in the pulpit protest. He also will throw his support behind a Republican congressional candidate and a Republican statehouse candidate and urge his congregation to skip the spot on the ballot where a Democratic state senator is running unopposed.

Shelley knows he runs the risk of provoking the Internal Revenue Service into revoking his 60-member church's tax-exempt status. In fact, he's hoping the IRS will try. But this is the second year he's baited the IRS from the pulpit, and still the agency has not risen to the bait.
So, nothing has happened. This minister has purposely flouted the IRS rules from his pulpit, and nothing has happened to him. This guy WANTS the IRS to come after him, and nothing has happened. These are the most pathetic jack-booted thugs in the world.

At the urging of anti-Christian groups seeking to secularize America, courts and government are increasingly treating our churches more as nuisances than as pillars of the community. And some are treated not just as nuisances, but as criminals for exercising their Christian faith!

That’s exactly how Bishop Rick Painter of Christ the King Liturgical Charismatic Church was treated before ADF was given the opportunity to defend him. For years, he rang the bells of his church as an expression of praise to God – until the city of Phoenix wrongly determined that the bells violated a local noise ordinance. As a result, a judge sentenced Bishop Painter to jail! After ADF attorneys filed suit, a federal court ruled that the city’s noise ordinance could not be applied to churches. Eventually, the court reversed Bishop Painter’s criminal conviction.

Oh my God, this minister was treated as a criminal merely for having broken the law? What is this, Russia? And, yes, he did violate the law. Just because he a judge ruled that the law doesn't apply to churches doesn't mean the bells weren't a violation, the church is just getting preferential treatment.

here's a little background on the church-bell kerfuffle:

Bishop convicted of disturbing peace for bell ringing


July 15, 2009, 5:51PM

Then, on Palm Sunday 2008, they started ringing the church bells every half hour during the day.

Every Half Hour! I used to live across the street from a church in San Francisco, and it they had rung their bells every half-hour, I would have gone postal on them. I like the sound of church bells, I really do. But not while I'm trying to sleep.

The complaints soon began, so church leaders cut back to once per hour.

Oh, well, if they're going to be that accommodating, who could possibly complain?

. . . church leaders cut back to once per hour. They put up Styrofoam to muffle the sound. But they didn't see how they could stop tolling the bells.

“We ring our bells as a part of our worship, just like singing, praying and preaching the Word of God,” they wrote in a statement.

Unless you're holding services every half hour throughout the day, that argument really doesn't hold water.

“It's frankly a little bit astonishing,” said ADF attorney Gary S. McCaleb, contending the case violates the church's First Amendment freedom of religion. “It's very clearly an expression and outworking of their faith.”

But Phoenix officials and some of the church's neighbors see it differently.

“It wasn't an isolated incident. It happened repeatedly,” said City Prosecutor Aaron Carreon-Ainsa.

Al Brooks, who lives behind the church, offered a more vivid description. “We were living in a bell tower.”

And, see, here's the thing. These people were here first. You moved into Their neighborhood. I f they don't want bells ringing at all hours, you should have the decency to knock it off. If, for instance, I moved into an apartment across the street from an existing church, I probably don't have much right to complain about the bells. Just like if you buy a house near the airport, you can't really complain about the airplane noise. But if the guy across the street decides to build an airport in his backyard, he's going to have a problem with me! That's right, Fred! You heard me! You better not build no stinking airport! I'm not afraid of you!

But I digress.

Some neighbors liked the bell, church leaders said. They heard from people who set their clocks by it, and a postman who used it to time his rounds.

But, Brooks pointed out, none of those people lived next to the bells. He and other immediate neighbors contacted a company that manufactures electronic church bells to ask what distance they should be played from residences. The response: 400 feet.

Brooks' house is 40 feet from the bells.

So, my point is, this church was not being discriminated against. The law is about noise, not religious belief. If Al Brooks decided he wanted to put a carrilon on his front lawn and ring in the new day every morning with a "Sound of Music" medley, he would be violating the noise ordinance same as the church. The ADF just wants the church to get special treatment. They want to be exempt from the law. Just like they want to be exempt from IRS regulations that apply to every non-profit. The Red Cross is not allowed to send out fliers saying "vote for Smith," or "Vote against Jones" without giving up their non-profit status. Neither is the American Heart Association, or the World Wildlife Fund." The same rule applies to your churches. And to you, not getting special treatment is equivalent to being discriminated against. Which is typical wingnut thinking.


Buffy said...

Ironic, isn't it? They whine like petulant children when any law applies to them--even though most of those laws apply to everyone else. Why do they think they should have special rights just because they're "religious"?

Anonymous said...

You know who the hypocrites are??? They are people like you. Do you think the Freedom of religion and Free Excersice of religion and such were the FIRST AMENDMENT BY ACCIDENT? Religious Rights, practices and such are priority over any other law. If there is anything that breaks the law it is by people who try to create laws while breaking the Ultimate Law. Who then is the criminal? The Federal Court found that the Ringing of the Bell Violations were unconstitutional. In other words the City of Phoenix broke the law when they charged the bishop. They were the criminals. So it will be for all citys, states and governments who try to treat religious worship like everything else. Religious protections are priority and trumph anything. This is what this country is founded on and these are our laws.