Why Pastor Gus Booth opposes religious freedom

While listening to NPR this afternoon, I happened to hear an interview with Pastor Gus Booth of the Warroad Community Church in Minnesota. Booth, along with 30 othe preachers around the country, has pledged his intent to commit a flagrant violation of the constitutional separation of church and state by endorsing a presidential candidate in his sermon.

You see, for the last 54 years, federal tax law has forbidden churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates. This is because churches are tax-exempt institutions, so such meddling in politics would be construed as the use of tax-free dollars to engage in a political campaign. In other words, what Booth plans to do is blatantly illegal. It may not yet be clear, however, why that means that he (and the Alliance Defense Fund, which spearheaded the Pulpit Initiative”) opposes religious freedom. I’ll spell it out.

  1. The public endorsement of a religion violates religious freedom.
  2. The public endorsement of a political candidate by a religious organization indicates that that political candidate supports the ideals of that religion.
  3. Therefore, the public endorsement of a political candidate by a religion amounts to the public endorsement of a religion.

It’s not rocket science. The Constitution dictates that religion must stay out of politics, and vice versa. People like Pastor Booth and the Alliance Defense Fund are working to undo the protections that ensure freedom of and from religion in this country. They will fail, but it saddens and enrages me that anyone would want to try.


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5 Responses to “Why Pastor Gus Booth opposes religious freedom”

  1. Hugh Ringling Says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  2. planb4america Says:

    I like your post, but I have to say one thing. It is not the Constitution that dictates this. It is the IRS that dictates this. The Constitution states that the government will not tell you how you can worship basically. The 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Status is where it states what churches can and can not do. There is also a Mandator Exception Rule from the IRS that also states that churches are automatically exempt from taxes to begin with. You can find all of this at the IRS website. Give it a look, your are on the right track.

    Here a some links for you to check out and maybe blog some about:

    Click to access p1828.pdf

    See Ya later,


  3. soulbiscuit Says:

    Thanks Mike! Looks like I was a little hasty with that one. Blind rage will do that to a guy.

  4. Did You Hand Pick These Comments? Says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    I can find no place in the Constitution where it states that a religious leader does not have freedom of speech. The Supreme Court has abridged the Religious’ leaders freedom to speak freely; I challenge anyone to show me the actual law – other than the IRS ruling (they are not a body of law makers) – the actual law, written down, in the constitution that states ‘a religious leader has his/her free speech abridged as soon as he steps into the pulpit.’

  5. soulbiscuit Says:

    To the commenter with the cumbersome name “Did You Hand Pick These Comments”:

    The IRS did not rule that religious leaders can’t endorse candidates from the pulpit. You’re right about that. You’re right also that it’s not necessarily the Constitution that forbids this, as another commenter already pointed out. What does forbid religious organizations from endorsing candidates is section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, which was passed by Congress. Congress, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is a body of lawmakers.

    That should meet your challenge nicely.

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