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In Election Season, IRS Sits in Judgment: Clergy Withhold Endorsements While Touting Free Speech From Pulpit

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

October 9, 2004, The Washington Post

“While the Supreme Court has upheld tax penalties for nonreligious charities’ political activity, we believe there is a difference of constitutional significance when religious ministers speak from the pulpit to their own congregations,” Becket Fund Chairman Kevin J. Hasson wrote in a Sept. 17 letter sent to 300,000 houses of worship across the country. “We encourage you to contact us immediately if the IRS threatens your institution’s tax-exempt status for anything you say from the pulpit. . . . We will defend free of charge any good faith religious message — left, right, or center, wisdom or nonsense — preached from the pulpit.”