Some selected quotes:
Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.
The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.
"The sermon will be an evaluation of conditions for office in light of scripture and doctrine. They will make a specific recommendation from the pulpit about how the congregation would vote," he said.
Owens also criticizes ADF and its lawyers for "actively advising churches and pastors that they should violate the tax law and offering to explain how to do that. The tax system would be shut down if you allowed attorneys to counsel people on how to violate the tax law."
"This is an extraordinarily reckless scheme that they are promoting," Conn said. "The federal tax law is clear. Churches are charitable institutions that exist to do charitable things. That does not include politics. Political groups do politics."
The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal consortium that considers itself the antithesis of the American Civil Liberties Union. It spends more than $20 million a year to underwrite legal battles and train lawyers to push the country in socially conservative directions.
Founded in 1994 by Christian conservatives including James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family and William R. Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, the ADF has challenged same-sex marriage initiatives, stem cell research and rules that limit the distance protesters must keep from abortion patients. It helped the Boy Scouts ban gay Scout leaders.
Defining its latest mission, the ADF declared that pastors have "too long feared" the loss of tax exemptions.
"We're not encouraging any congregation to violate the law," Stanley said. "What we're encouraging them to do is exercise their constitutional right in the face of an unconstitutional law."
This is horrifying. It's bad enough that I have to listen to individuals tell me that it's important that a political candidate believes in god, now the clergy want to use their offices to pressure them as well. These people make me ill. Not to mention make me want to move to Europe.