Pastors Test IRS Regulations, Endorse Candidates

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Nearly 100 pastors across the country challenged Internal Revenue Service regulations on Sunday by speaking about biblical principals and endorsing political candidates from the pulpit.

This organized effort violated federal regulations and the ministers' churches could lose their tax-exempt status.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, organized the pastors to speak as a part of the annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The ADF explained that the IRS rules are unconstitutional.

"What in essence the IRS has been doing for the last 56 years -- is setting up a system of intimidation and censorship and really establishing itself as kind of the orthodoxy police -- telling pastors, 'You can talk about anything you want to from scripture, but you can't talk about the issue of what's right about what the scripture says about candidates and elections,'" said Erik Stanley, a senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.

"We believe that a pastor has a right to speak whatever he believes without fearing the government will somehow censor what he says or threaten to take away his tax exemption," Stanley added.

The federal tax law, which was established in 1954, keeps churches and tax exempt entities from supporting or opposing political candidates.

The ADF and the pastors hope the move will provoke a court case so the regulation can be overturned.

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