May 9, 2008
NEW YORK (AP) — Conservative legal advocates are recruiting pastors across the U.S. to defy an Internal Revenue Service ban on preaching about politicians, in a challenge they hope will abolish the restriction.
The Alliance Defense Fund, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, will ask the clergy to deliver a sermon about specific candidates Sept. 28. If the action triggers an investigation by the government tax collection agency, the legal group will sue to overturn the federal rules, which were enacted in 1954.
Under the IRS code, churches can distribute voter guides, run voter registration drives, hold forums on public policy and invite politicians to speak at their congregations.
However, they cannot endorse a candidate, and their political activity cannot be biased for or against a candidate, directly or indirectly.
The Alliance Defense Fund said Friday that the regulations amount to an unconstitutional limit on free speech and government intrusion into religion.
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