This effort started in 2007 by the Alliance Defense Fund to challenge the unconstitutional tax code provision fostered in 1954 by then Senator Lyndon Johnson to silence his nonprofit political enemies.
Johnson’s tax code revision was originally intended to silence secular nonprofit organizations that were critical of him in his election campaign. But since churches–which have been tax exempt since colonial days in America–fall under the same 501c3 tax code provision for IRS purposes, they were automatically included in this muzzle operation. Secularists and those who are hostile to Christian values have used this as a muzzle and a club to keep pastors, churches and Christians silent not only when immoral politicians run for office, but often when policy initiatives (which are not really covered by this restriction) come before the people. Unfortunately, the body of Christ has, through ignorance and sometimes cowardice, allowed the enemies of our heritage to intimidate us into surrender.
But the Pulpit Initiative intends to reclaim the ground of religious liberty we have forfeited for the last 50 years. The movement started out with just a few pastors participating, but grew to 539 in 2011.
Going all the way back to the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact, we have been a people who understood that our Christian values are vital to the success of a free and prosperous society; there is even a huge painting of the “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” in the U.S. Capitol rotunda.
Colonial Americans inculcated their children in the Christian faith, to the point that when French historian Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s, he remarked in his book “Democracy in America” how “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other” and “Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country.”
When the American Revolution came, American pastors had been pivotal in laying the moral groundwork for it, and helped give birth to the American nation–so much so that the American Revolution was often referred to in England as the “Presbyterian Revolution” and pastors were the “Black Robe Regiment.”
America’s pastors went on to keep their flocks informed about moral and immoral public policy, as well as politicians they saw as a threat to religious liberty and the moral fiber of our country, until modern times when they allowed themselves to be muzzled.
When Christians refuse to participate in the area of politics, they cede that area of life to people who not appreciate our Christian heritage, and in many cases, are outright hostile to that heritage. When Christians do not take part in the contest for public policy, we deliberately ask for laws that are contrary to Biblical truth and the mode of government the founders established. This is why the first Supreme Court Chief Justice of our country, John Jay, said
Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
John Adams warned us to preserve our religious heritage in the public square, and properly maintenance the moral fiber of our society to keep our nation running well:
We have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
If our country is to recover from the fiscal, regulatory, and moral illnesses that have plagued us in recent decades, we must restore the voice of the conscience of our country. Christians must step up…or be prepared to watch the blessings of liberty crumble.
The Alliance Defense Fund is an organization established to defend religious liberty in America from the assaults of secularists that have become so common in recent decades. They have allied attorneys all over the country who can help defend churches, pastors, ministry leaders and lay Christians to maintain their religious liberties. In many ways, ADF is the counter to the anti-Christian, anti-American ACLU.
If you are a pastor and your church didn’t participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday this year, the 2012 event is already being planned.
You can listen to the podcast on the archives page for Nov. 17.