That Depends on What You Mean by “Christian”

Background: Alliance Defense Fund is like a conservative counterpart to the ACLU — basically a well-funded law firm with a socio-political agenda that operates in jurisdictions throughout the United States. They do things like pick up cases pushing for Bible clubs to meet at public schools, for teaching Intelligent Design in public classrooms, etc. However, they claim they are not a law firm, but instead a “Christ-centered” “servant organization” and a “legal alliance.” Among other things, this enables them to circumvent laws against discrimination in employment. In particular, they only hire Christians. Here is the “Statement of Faith” and a list of activities you may be asked to be involved in during work hours.

Of more interest to Mormons, ADF is the legal counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the pro-Prop 8 organization sponsored by the Church (sponsored in the sense that members have been directed to donate their money to that organization specifically). Several stories have been written about ADF hiring practices in light of the participation of expressly (i.e. Jewish) or allegedly (i.e. LDS) non-Christian groups in the coalition. BCC readers likely even noticed a recent sidebar link to one of the stories under the header “legal counsel for the Yes-On-8 campaign won’t hire Mormons.”

So, first question: Is it true?

In an effort to better answer this question, I sent an email to ADF Human Resources asking specifically about hiring Mormons. Their response was terse, generic, but friendly, simply redirecting me back to the Statement of Faith, noting that “every member needs to be in full agreement” with it. The Statement reads as follows:

1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God.
2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. We believe in the deity and humanity of Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, in His present rule as Head of the Church and in His personal return in power and glory.
4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful men regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
6. We believe that all those who die in God’s grace through faith are assured eternal salvation; those who die in a state of sin and unbelief suffer the punishment of Hell.
7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, with equality across racial, gender, and class differences.

As well as a list of “duties” required or potentially required of all “team members”:

During working and non-working hours, ADF Team Members, as part of their duties as Team Members, shall: (i) be ready, willing, and able to participate in public and private prayer, chapel or other similar Christian services held or sponsored by ADF, including prayer with and for friends and allies of the ministry; (ii) refrain from statements and conduct that detracts from the biblical standards taught and supported by ADF; (iii) be spiritually ready, willing, and able to fulfill such other ministry functions and requirements as may be requested by ADF; and (iv) abide by the practices and policies of ADF, including without limitation, those that pertain to corporate religious activites, beliefs, and practices.

So I ask again — is it true? Would the ADF hire a Mormon? Two potential sticking points I see in the SOF are 1) the infallibility and authoritativeness of the Bible, and 2) the “punishment of Hell” for unbelievers. Other possible sticking points are less clear. We do believe in one (supreme) God, but most non-Mormons, especially non-Mormon conservative Christians, firmly believe that we are polytheists. (Perhaps the tension here is broken by the fact that a potential hiree appears to only have to individually affirm acceptance of said principles.) The list of duties might furnish other potential sticking points, but I’m really more interested in your responses to it all.

Which leads us to my second, and final question: does it matter?

Discuss.

Comments

  1. Aaron Brown says:

    Would the ADF hire a Mormon? No. The inclusion of “infallible” in #1 definitively excludes us. #2 would probably exclude us too, at least if it’s read in a traditional trinitarian manner, which it probably would be (though I suppose you could say that’s not inevitable). Do Mormons believe that “those who die in a state of sin and unbelief suffer the punishment of Hell”? I suspect our Hell is not their Hell, so this may also be a disqualifier.

    Does it matter? In other words, should the fact that the LDS Church asks members to donate money to an organization that wouldn’t hire them give one pause before one donates? I don’t really think it would, for most. One might bemoan the ADF’s refusal to hire Mormons, but for those who support Prop. 8, I suspect this doesn’t really matter much. The point is to WIN, and the hope is that supporting ADF will aid in realizing that outcome. Everything else is secondary.

    AB

  2. Why exactly are Mormons teaming up with these kinds of bigots? I’m just curious. What do we hope to gain from this backstabbing relationship?

  3. Let me put it differently. Would the ADF stick its neck out for us if some law were written that had a negative impact on our religious practices?

  4. I don’t think it matters. If it were a Jewish organization that only hired Jews, would we be nearly as offended? I think it’s probably time, for our own sanity and well-being, to stop trying to be part of the Christian Club and come to terms with being a “fourth Abrahamic religion.” Not that we should stop calling ourselves Christians, but our differences ARE significant. We may as well just acknowledge it and move on.

  5. Dan, an unwillingness to hire non-Christians (however defined) would not necessarily mean an unwillingness to defend non-Christian (however defined) religious practice. They state that they are committed to protecting “religious” liberty rather than “christian” liberty, so I suspect, in the final analysis, that the answer to your question is yes.

  6. a random John says:

    AB,

    The point is to WIN, and the hope is that supporting ADF will aid in realizing that outcome.

    Are you sure that the point is to WIN? Given that prop 8 isn’t going to WIN isn’t the point to go down fighting?

  7. Rebecca, you’re making the precise point. We would only be scandalized by a Jewish organization not willing to hire non-Jews if we considered ourselves (to the protestation of other Jews) to be Jews.

  8. Would the ADF stick its neck out for us if some law were written that had a negative impact on our religious practices?

    Probably not. But I reckon our church has enough lawyers already.

    I don’t think it’s fair to call them backstabbing bigots. It’s a little more complicated than that, in my opinion. They want employees who share a certain mindset and worldview, which I think is their prerogative. It may be self-limiting and/or narrow-minded, but I don’t think it’s borne of malice. Perhaps I’m too fixated on the connotations of “bigot.”

  9. I think it matters, with the exact same ultimate conclusion as Rebecca J.

  10. in comment #4

  11. Brad,

    They state that they are committed to protecting “religious” liberty rather than “christian” liberty, so I suspect, in the final analysis, that the answer to your question is yes.

    Are there examples of them fighting for the religious liberty of Muslims? How about smaller non-Christian religions?

  12. I don’t know, Dan. But so far I see no reason to assume that they wouldn’t.

  13. For me, the larger question is not whether or not this particular group would come to our defense so much as why are we so willing to make political bedfellows with people who hold their noses to work with us because they find our religion to be false, dangerous, and evil?

  14. Rebecca,

    But in terms of fighting for “religious freedom” what do Christian theological doctrines have anything to do when you are fighting for the religious freedom of a Buddhist?

    Maybe I’ve had too many experiences with Evangelical Christians turning their backs on us, because I have little trust that this organization would ever be there in our time of need.

  15. I saw your blog that mentioned Prop 8. I feel the need to share my thoughts on this issue. Prop 8 isn’t an issue about “rights”. It is about preserving the definition of “marriage” as between a man and a woman. Gay people can do what they want, and they can even enjoy many civil benefits through civil unions and the such. But that isn’t marriage. Gay people should be treated with kindness and respect, like anyone. Gay people aren’t the issue here nor the problem. The problem is that 4 arrogant judges in black robes sitting in their ivory tower overturned the express will of a clear majority of California citizens when they ruled by fiat and illegally legislated from the bench when they unilaterally redefined marriage. Prop 8 allows the citizens of California to say no to Judicial Activism and Judicial Tyranny. There are elements of the judiciary that are way out of control and are endangering the balance of power in our republic by getting involved in “legislating”. This has got to stop. Voting yes on Prop 8 will help put those elitist judges back in their place and let them know they cannot arrogantly overule the will of the people in a matter as fundamental to the future of civilization as the bedrock institution of marriage. That is something important enough that it should not be left to 4 elitist judges to impose by fiat.

    May I speak a word to just those of you who are my gay friends, neighbors, coworkers, and fellow-countrymen. You are a minority and I’m sure you recognize that. And that is ok. But please show kindness and tolerance for the rest of us and vote with us to help preserve marriage as between a man and a woman. I know you may not have any personal parochial interest in voting yes on Prop 8. But as your friend and neighbor, I’m asking for your vote to help preserve the definition of this institution that is so important. Thank you.

  16. From ADF’s “alliances” page:

    ADF Allies are those who willingly share common values on one or more of the issues within ADF’s mission

    We’re not even their “allies.” But we’re to give them money?

    Further, we see:

    The Alliance Defense Fund aims to keep that door open by providing case funding, strategy and coordination, attorney training, and litigation to defend religious freedom.

    By God’s grace, we are succeeding. We have helped win numerous court victories that:

    Stopped discrimination against Christian employees

    Enabled Christian groups to use public facilities on the same terms as other organizations

    Preserved historic and Christian acknowledgement in public places

    Despite these and many other successes, a great deal of work remains. By supporting the Alliance Defense Fund, you can help win the battle for religious liberty.

    So they are defending Christian—as they define it—religious freedom, not “religious freedom.”

    This is not a group that will ever get my money.

  17. I think of it this way: Many Jews are offended when Christians of Jewish heritage call themselves “Messianic Jews” (or “Jews for Jesus” or whatever), and I can understand that. I understand wanting to retain a Jewish identity even though you’ve converted to Christianity, but the fact is, religiously you are a Christian, not a Jew. Now, it’s not entirely analogous to the Mormon-Christian problem, but it helps to understand where some of these Christians are coming from. While it’s true that not everyone understands our beliefs adequately–perhaps they’d change their minds if they did–some people understand them perfectly well and just don’t think they are compatible with Christianity as it’s traditionally been understood. Of course we disagree, but I just don’t think it’s worth getting bent out of shape over. I don’t think Christians need to get bent out of shape if we’re calling ourselves Christians, and I don’t think we need to get bent out of shape if they’re getting bent out of shape. I really think we need to shrug this stuff off more. Turn the other cheek, perhaps.

  18. There may also be conflicts in the “Duties” section. I remember the uproar over LDS local leaders who wanted to participate in the National Day of Prayer a couple of years ago.

    The issue was that we did not believe in a similar set of theological statements to those listed above.

    Perhaps Rebecca is right, and we need to stake our claim as a fourth Abrahamic religion, albeit one that claims direct authority from Jesus Christ. That ultimately is what sets us apart, as we don’t claim literal authority down through the centuries as does the Catholic Church, or from the “inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God” as represented by the Bible by the self-proclaimed Christian mainstream.

  19. Dan, I’m not sure I understand how we don’t qualify as “allies.”

    We respectfully recognize that many organizations that have worked with us in the past or on specific issues may not agree with ADF’s position on every legal issue, no more than ADF may agree with all of theirs.

    Perhaps they focus on Christian religious liberty because the ACLU’s got everyone else’s back. Then again, I still think it’s their prerogative to choose which causes to support.

  20. “I really think we need to shrug this stuff off more. Turn the other cheek, perhaps.”

    Couldn’t agree more, but that doesn’t mean we lock ourselves into alliances with such people. In other words, aligning ourselves with erstwhile enemies for the sake of one or two political issues comes at a pretty high cost. Let’s be kind and forgiving, but let’s not act like suckers and patsies either.

  21. Exactly how do these people stab us in the back again?

  22. Perhaps they focus on Christian religious liberty because the ACLU’s got everyone else’s back.

    Not entirely true. The ACLU has worked for/with the Church on dozens of cases on religious freedom. But, then again, it was typically freedom from policies written by people who don’t consider us “Christian”, so we’re back to circular semantics again…

  23. #19 — ACLU does take up some cases of religious liberties. IIRC, they went to bat for an LDS kid who was prevented from taking a turn saying the prayer at a high school football game in Texas, because he wasn’t “Christian” enough for the rest of the student body.

  24. jinx Brad!

  25. I mean to ask what the costs are. Are these people really our “enemies”? Are they actively working to diminish our first amendment rights?

  26. For another specific example, they (ACLU) helped us overturn legislation that would have made it basically impossible for us to proselyte door-to-door in several southern states.

  27. I didn’t mean to suggest that the ACLU doesn’t do religious liberty cases (even for Christians), but that Christians might have a special interest in doing more for “their own” than the ACLU has time or inclination to do.

  28. So I guess the ACLU does have our back. Who needs the ADF?

  29. Are these people really our “enemies”?

    That depends on what you mean by “enemies.” A helpful thought experiment is to ask whether or not they consider our religion to be dangerous and/or worth trying to combat and then imagine how you would feel about an atheist who felt the same way. Is Christopher Hitchins our enemy? I think not; but he isn’t exactly our friend, either (and I’m not about to give him money for any of his crusades).

  30. Technical question: are we paying them money, or are they donating their services? To me, that makes a significant difference.

  31. Great question, SB2. You should send an email.

  32. Should the United States and Great Britain have allied with the Soviet Union during World War II? I think is was probably the best option, but then I haven’t studied Pat Buchanan’s arguments that the U.S. should have sat out WWII. At any rate, that wartime alliance didn’t impede a spirited cold war immediately after. LDS and this ADF can use each other now while it serves both of them, and break up later when the usefulness is past.

  33. Rebecca J, I’ve seen material put out by some of the people in the protect marriage coalition that condemns “non-biblical marriage” (whatever that is) and “non-Christian religions” in the same sentence, and then spells out specifically Mormons, Muslims, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    So I do not share the hope that they would come to our aid if our first amendment rights were under attack. I strongly suspect that they would actually be the ones doing the attacking. As far as they are concerned, we are a destructive force in America, and they view us the same way they view gay people.

  34. Mark, if that’s true, then aligning ourselves with them is dumb. So when they condemn non-Christian religions, how exactly are they proposing that we be stopped?

  35. The talk President Hinckley gave in conference in October, 2000 comes to mind. It is the one about the snake which bites its benefactor, then says: “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

  36. By definition, Mormons *and* Jews couldn’t belong to this organization — and I agree with the comment that asked, “who cares?” Why try to belong to a group that outright tells you you’re wrong?

  37. People, politics makes strange bedfellows. If the esteem in which Mormons are held is the motivating factor in who we support, then vast majority of Mormons (in Utah) should not have voted for Bush (I say this because I don’t believe he considers us Christian and I do believe he believes we are all going to hell unless we accept Jesus in our hearts; in other words, I have no proof, but he is a self-confessed Evangelical and that is the standard line).

  38. Rebecca, I think it is mostly an unwillingness to intervene on our behalf. The case in Texas where the ACLU argued successfully on the behalf of the LDS high school kids is one example.

    Really, I appreciate your voice of reason here. As a very small minority, we need to develop the ability to form alliances. But I just want us to do it with our eyes wide open.

  39. Why try to belong to a group that outright tells you you’re wrong?

    Of course there’s a different (but no less relevant) way of spinning the question: why would we wish to belong to a religious club, every member of which we consider to be wholly apostate?

  40. A marriage of convenience is a marriage contracted for reasons other than for relationship, family, or love. Such a marriage is orchestrated for personal gain or some other sort of strategic purpose.

    See also “Biblical Marriage”

  41. Well, with all due respect, “not intervening” is not the same as leading an attack. Not that I’m inclined to give money to ADF anyway, but I reckon there are a lot of worthy causes they’re not intervening in.

  42. Not that I’m inclined to give money to ADF anyway…

    The point is that, if you lived in California, your Church leaders would very likely be pressuring you to do precisely that.

  43. I forgot to say that I agree we should keep our eyes open.

  44. Brad, I’m very disturbed by the whole Prop. 8 business and intensely grateful that I don’t live in California. My reasons have nothing to do with ADF not considering us Christians. I no longer expect to be considered a Christian. Perhaps that’s my problem.

  45. I no longer expect to be considered a Christian.

    Not a problem in the least, imho.

  46. I would frame this discussion the same way that Jews frame the discussion of evangelical “allies” who are in favor of defending Israel but ultimately think all Jews are going to Hell for not accepting Christ. Are evangelicals who believe all Jews are going to Hell bigots? Well, maybe, but a lot of them are just misguided in the way they read the scriptures and are probably well-intentioned. But most Jews I know are thankful for the evangelicals who defend Israel, regardless of any weird Apocalyptic motives they may have because at the end of the day most Jews believe Israel needs defending.

    (Yes I know there are many Jews who don’t feel this way – I am speaking from personal experience and the vast majority of Jews I know DO feel this way).

    So, if you substitute the word “Jews” for “Mormon” and consider the issue of “defending marriage” rather than “defending Israel,” I feel we should have the same attitude, ie, I believe we should be thankful for evangelicals who are willing to defend marriage, even though parts of their theology appears bigoted and wrong.

    Let me point out that there are also Muslim and Jewish groups that are defending marriage, although their numbers are much smaller than our evangelical and Catholic allies. Should I reject a temporary alliance with Muslims based on the many things I disagree with in their faith? I say no.

  47. I think claiming ourselves as a 4th Abrahamic religion is extreme. We’re comparing little ole us to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Let’s not get to big for our britches.

    It’s completely sucky to be so thoroughly dismissed as Christians because we don’t fit so neatly into their definition, but as John said, politics makes strange bedfellows.

    I understand occasional alliances to reach the same goal, but I wish Mormons could establish themselves politically more distinctly from evangelicals and other Christian groups that don’t have room for Mormons. But we don’t, evangelicals can count us to vote exactly as they want us to. That’s where I think we look really dumb.

  48. Geoff B, I agree with many of your points. I don’t think most people would have a problem with volunteers from our church and volunteers from a Satan-worshiping church (just to pick a “worst case”) working together on hurricane cleanup.

    But selecting a law firm and paying them a lot of money is entirely different to me. We don’t have to patronize businesses that exclude us. That said, it’s not completely clear to me that this is what we’ve done here. Maybe they are donating their services?

  49. Latter-day Guy says:

    I think the question is not “Would the ADF go to bat for US?” Rather, we should ask, “If there were an amendment which, if adopted, would infringe on the rights of those considered by evangelicals to be ‘non-Christian,’ would the ADF offer their services to help it pass?”

  50. SinisterMatt says:

    Amri (#47), I think that taking more prominent, separate political positions (when we agree with the Evangelicals on at least some of them) is kind of analogous to reinventing the wheel. Combining with them, even if they do view us as “non-Christians” or apostates, would give more larger numbers (and therefore a larger voice) to whatever political cause we find ourselves trying to champion.

    Cheers!

  51. Aaron Brown says:

    arJ, I take your point at #6, and so I’m willing to say that the point is perhaps to GO DOWN FIGHTING, regardless of who are bedfellows are in the process.

    Except that I suspect some LDS believe that they may be able to galvanize enough votes to impact the likely outcome.

    My comment at #1 was meant to reveal my own preferences as to who we associate with, but just to point out that I don’t think the vast majority of LDS who want to support Prop. 8 will give a rat’s ass about this temporary association with those who won’t hire Mormons, and if I were a gung-ho supporter of Prop. 8, I don’t think I’d care either.

    AB

  52. Aaron Brown says:

    er, I mean “NOT meant to reveal my own preferences” …

  53. a random John says:

    AB,

    “impact the likely outcome”? Do you mean that they want to lose by less than they otherwise might? Does this have an impact?

  54. re: 34
    The evangelicals produce virtually all of the really nasty anti-Mormon literature and videos, for one thing.

    It’s so ironic. Many LDS feel their families are somehow under assaut by the gays, and then turn longingly toward a powerful evangelical community that explicitly attacks Mormomism as a destructive cult. The Southern Baptists alone have spent a fortune trying to thwart LDS missionary work.

    A psychoanalyst could have a heyday with that!

  55. Who’s writing the next post about Mormons being too insular?

  56. I am, John.

  57. A couple of years ago, we got a new finance director here at work. He’s a committed evangelical Christian, and one of his first goals was to establish a Bible study group. We met once a week at a cafeteria table and went through one chapter each morning. I’d been attending and contributing for a few months when one morning I arrived just as the admin to the CFO was saying “And the Mormons pray to Joseph Smith.” I said “We do no such thing. You’ve heard me pray here and I’ve never in my life done that.”

    Total shocked silence. They knew I’d moved here from Salt Lake, but never connected that with my religion.

    I found out later that the other members of the Bible study group called a little emergency meeting without me. First question – do we kick him out? Can’t really do that. Second question – do we shut down the Bible study group? Well, he’s never been a problem, so maybe we let him keep coming for now and see what heppens.

    They finally decided I must be a weird Mormon, since I didn’t act, behave, or believe anything like what their own pastors had said Mormons are.

    I learned a great deal from that.

    First, I learned that our perception out there is very, very warped. The very pastors who Christians love and trust, the servants who are there as counselors, friends, who celebrate every birth and grieve every death, these learned and loving men they worship with fuel the fires of mistrust and hatred. We aren’t far removed from the idea that Mormons have horns.

    Second, if we get evangelicals on their own, they will eventually admit that perhaps we aren’t that bad, and that we even help bring a new perspective to the table. I made sure I never acted like a zone leader who needs two more baptisms to reach the end-of-the-month goal, and I was treated warmly and with respect.

    I’ve always maintained that we don’t have a monopoly on truth. Problem is, we don’t have a monopoly on failing to measure up as true Christians, either. If ADF falls short, it’s their problem and they will have to answer for that. At least we made the effort to reach out and help.

  58. LiberalSlayer says:

    John C.
    I’m glad that you at least recognize that you have no evidence for the following comment.
    “I don’t believe [G.W.Bush] considers us Christian and I do believe he believes we are all going to hell unless we accept Jesus in our hearts; in other words, I have no proof, but he is a self-confessed Evangelical and that is the standard line).”
    It would be wise to point out here, that President Bush DID give President Hinckley a quite large and important medal. If Bush subscribed to the (stereotypical and possibly misleading) evangelical viewpoint that all Mormons are damned and deceivers I don’t highly he would have given Hinkcley that honor.
    It’s amazing how some of your comments (which are self-admittedly lacking in evidence) manages to put down Evangelicals with different political viewpoints than yours, and Presidents with different political viewpoints than yours.
    Stop being such a tool!

  59. Steve Evans says:

    “Stop being such a tool!”

    goodbye LiberalSlayer. You’re officially a martyr for your cause (namely, that of being a jerk).

  60. #54 – Mike, well said.

  61. Eric Russell says:

    I’ll take these bigots over the bigots who fight to allow protesters on the church’s land.

  62. Has anyone confirmed whether ADF is receiving any funds from protectmarriage? Based on my experience in a couple of cases I have been involved in on behalf of the ACLU (it has been a while, but I have worked on a couple of them) my impression is many, most or all ACLU cases are done pro bono, and I wonder if ADF is similar in that respect.

    If ADF is contributing its services, I do not have a problem with it any more than I would if the LDS Church’s general counsel’s office contributed its services.

  63. Here is the address for ADF’s California office:

    Alliance Defense Fund
    101 Parkshore Drive
    Suite 100

    Folsom, CA 95630

    Here is the office address for ProtectMarriage.com’s lead attorney:

    Andrew P. Pugno
    101 Parkshore Drive
    Suite 100

    Folsom, California 95630

    Prior to June 6th, ProtectMarriage.com has paid Andrew Pugno $89,024.86 according to Sec. of State. What payments have been made since then haven’t been filed with the SoS yet.

    1/8/08 LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW PUGNO $18,000.00
    1/8/08 LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW PUGNO $ 9,000.00
    2/13/08 LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW PUGNO $10,157.85
    3/3/08 LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW PUGNO $ 9,030.00
    4/10/08 LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW PUGNO $14,063.22
    4/25/08 PUGNO, M. COLLEEN $ 215.99
    4/29/08 LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW PUGNO $ 5,522.04
    5/24/08 LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW PUGNO $ 671.58
    5/24/08 PUGNO, ANDREW $562.67
    6/5/08 LAW OFFICES OF ANDREW PUGNO $21,801.51

  64. I do wish the LDS were a little less anxious to be identified with Evangelicals. As has been said they produce and distribute most anti-Mormon materials. Stuff that either lie outright or sensationalize obscure LDS teachings. To assess the impact, just think of the vitriol that surfaced around the Romney campaign.

    But still, I would vote for Prop 8 (I am obviously not eligible, not being Californian).

    I personally have stopped caring whether or not we are considered Christians by those people. I know I have accepted Christ as my Savior, and I try to do as He has told us to do, semantics aside.

  65. Here’s why we should NEVER give our money to this group. They are working right now at getting a number of churches to willingly break the law and start talking politics from the pulpits. They wish to break the law in order to have religions have their cake and eat it too.

    Currently, the way the law works in relation to religions is thus. Religions have a tax exempt status as institutions because their work is charitable, or religious in nature. This comes with a caveat. They are not allowed to get involved politically. Now, my thought is this, if religions want to get involved politically, then by all means, go for it. But you must give up your tax exempt status. You must accept being taxed. It’s just that simple.

    But see, the ADF, a reprehensible organization, wishes to test the law and try and destroy the prohibition on religions participating in politics while still retaining their tax exempt status.

    This of course will make political parties tied even stronger to religions. This, of course, is really bad in a democracy, because religions are not very good at all at compromising their positions. The eventual outcome will, of course, be violence (which we see around the world where religions fight each other). We’ll see here what we see in the Balkans.

    Politics should not be spewed from the pulpit.

  66. Jeremiah Wright says:

    Dan, I disagree. I think I should be able to say from the pulpit that the CIA invented AIDS to kill black people if I want to. It’s in the first amendment.

  67. Rev Wright,

    It’s one thing to say something like that. But that’s not the question here. The question is the endorsement of political parties, and party activism done from the pulpit.

    It’s different than saying something like the good reverend has said.

  68. Hmmm, looks like some chickens are coming home to roost.

  69. Steve Evans says:

    Geoff, indeed.

  70. What Steve (20) said. Time to grow a backbone and stop financing people who despise us.

  71. Brad,
    Is this the same crew that was on All Things Considered defending religious groups which break tax law by endorsing candidates?
    Do we seriously encourage members to donate to a group which encourages the breaking of the law?

  72. PS–Stop rabble-rousing and get back to writing about the parables.

  73. Dan and blt,
    The tax issue is a little more complicated than that: there is currently (and, by my reading, has been for the last 30 or so years) disagreement about whether a church’s tax exemption is a statutory gift or is a constitutional right. I haven’t followed the argument closely, but from what I’ve read, both sides have pretty decent arguments. So what ADF is advocating (if it’s the group that indeed advocated this) is, essentially, a test case (kind of like we did a test case with polygamy in the 1800s that ended up being Reynolds, kind of like plenty of civil rights groups have done test cases by having somebody break the law, knowing that they would be arrested and then arguing that the law was unconstitutional). That is, they’re not just flagrantly violating the tax law; they’re attempting to get a court ruling on whether a church can lose its tax-exempt status for political speech or whether Congress overreached the Constitution.

    That said, ADF sucks.

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