One hundred church pastors across the U.S. participated in the Alliance Defense Fund's third annual "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," an overt campaign in which pastors deliberately break the law by endorsing candidates for public office from the pulpit. Federal tax law prohibits tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including churches, from endorsing candidates for political office. The ADF portrays the law as censorship of pastors' free speech, a violation of the U.S. Constitution and discrimination against churches. The ADF is urging pastors to participate as a way to goad the IRS into coming after them, so they can bring a lawsuit challenging the law. In 2008, 33 pastors took part in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday." Many also participated in 2009, even though it wasn't an election year. But even though all the pastors who participated recorded their sermons and sent them to the IRS, the IRS isn't acting. The agency only investigated one church, and dropped that audit after a few months. This year, the number of participants tripled and pastors will again videotape their sermons and send them directly to the IRS. Reverend Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, pointed out that churches have a lot to lose in this battle. "Tax exemption is not a right; it's a privilege that comes with certain restrictions," he said.
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