Over 1,000 pastors have committed to intentionally preach on politics on October 7 as part of a campaign to protest the 1954 Johnson amendment to the tax code prohibiting tax-exempt organizations from “participate in, or intervene in … any political campaign on behalf of—or in opposition to—any candidate for public office.” The campaign, titled Pulpit Freedom Sunday, is led by the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) for the fifth year.
In an interview on James Dobson’s Family Talk, Jim Garlow of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, Calif., said the original intent of the tax amendment was to stifle businessmen from opposing Johnson’s candidacy for president. “I would contend that all the problems we’ve had since then—the removal of prayer from school, abortion, redefining marriage, massive debt—stem from the silence in the pulpit to speak to community and national life,” Garlow said.
The Pulpit Freedom Sunday website says the goal of the Pulpit Freedom Sunday movement is “simple: have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional—and once and for all remove the ability of the IRS to censor what a pastor says from the pulpit … Pulpit Freedom Sunday is not about turning churches into political machines; it is about restoring the right of pastors to speak freely from their pulpits about all matters included in Scripture—even when Scripture is deeply relevant to a pending election or the quality of a candidate for office.”
The website has also reported that, in the five-year history of the campaign, “no participating churches have had their tax exemption revoked, nor have any received penalties from the IRS for what was said during their sermons.”
Garlow himself plans to preach on several political topics including marriage, the national debt, and the values of both presidential candidates. More information and resources about Pulpit Freedom Sunday are available here.