Religious FreedomPrint

Should Your Pastor Be Free to Choose?

by Autumn Leva

What if we said:  Pastors should be free to follow their conscience and the leading of the Holy Spirit as they lead their congregations.

We’d all agree, right?

But what about “controversial social issues” such as the sanctity of life or marriage? Okay, what about political candidates and where they stand on issues important to the church?

People often feel squeamish when pastors talk about these issues. But why? The Bible speaks clearly about life, marriage, godly civil leaders and many other issues facing us today. The reason people feel more squeamish about pastors speaking out is something called the “Johnson Amendment.”

For more than 60 years, the IRS has used the Johnson Amendment as a ominous threat to keep pastors from preaching freely from the pulpit. Under the Johnson Amendment, First Amendment rights have become bargaining chips to be exchanged for a tax status. Pastors who share biblical truth that overlaps with modern day politics could risk intrusive IRS audits, incur steep fines, and even jeopardize their church’s tax-exempt status.

We understand that not every pastor will choose to engage on these topics, but the larger point is this: Shouldn’t the pastor be free to choose? If a pastor is deeply convicted to talk about the Bible’s position on “controversial social issues” such as life and marriage, shouldn’t the pastor be free to do so?

It’s time to fix the Johnson Amendment. We’re proud to partner with our allies at Alliance Defending Freedom in supporting the Free Speech Fairness Act, a bill that would fix the Johnson Amendment and restore First Amendment freedoms to our pulpits — and, ultimately, restore the freedom of choice for pastors.

We’re also proud to partner with our state-based family policy groups who serve on the front lines in more than 40 states — working to advocate for religious freedom for local churches at state capitols, help churches in your state know the law, and to fight bad bills that would strip churches and pastors of more freedoms.

And here’s how you can help end the Johnson Amendment and support religious freedom for churches in your state.

  1. Please take a minute to send an email to your elected leaders in D.C., asking them to pass the Free Speech Fairness Act, today. Simply add your name to the letter here.
  2. Have you connected with your state’s family policy group? Find your state here.

Thank you for partnering with our alliance to strengthen religious freedom in every state across the country!