It’s Monday, so it must be time for everyone to share last night’s main John Oliver segment and talk about how correct and funny and amazing he is. To be clear, I generally agree with this left-of-center consensus: Oliver’s longform takes on the old Daily Show template are informative, impassioned, and hilarious.
I had a mixed response, however, to last night’s segment.
The Alliance Defending Freedom and others have been hard at work for years organizing pastors to challenge (i.e., break) tax laws by electioneering from the pulpit. ADF insists this is about a pastor’s freedom of expression. I’m inclined to land where Amelia Thomson-Deveaux does: You can say anything you want (legally; let’s save theological arguments for another time)—once you give up your tax-exempt status.
A special commission created by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has called for clearer Internal Revenue Service guidance and greater efforts by donors to address “outliers” among congregations and other nonprofits that are not being held financially accountable.
Much has been said about Pulpit Freedom Sunday already, but there's still a thing or two to add.
First, let's talk about the political and legal aspects of the story. Reuters says it's "not entirely clear" why the IRS hasn't gone after churches making endorsements in recent years. I’d say the reason is actually pretty clear: the U.S. House of Representatives.
A group of 13 Ohio clergy is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the tax-exempt status of a Washington boarding house used by conservative members of Congress.
The C Street Center, a redbrick townhouse on Capitol Hill, came to public attention last summer when use of the building was tied to several Republican politicians who had admitted to extramarital affairs.
People looking for signs of theological sanity in this land can take heart from the fact that only 33 pastors endorsed a presidential candidate as part of a “pulpit freedom” demonstration on September 28.