by Steven Ertelt
September 9, 2004
Terre Haute, IN (LifeNews.com) — Two leading pro-life law firms are offering free legal advice and assistance for churches and pastors wanting to discuss the upcoming elections and key moral issues such as abortion without running afoul of the law or inviting lawsuits from abortion advocates.
The James Madison Center for Free Speech, in association with the Alliance Defense Fund, announced on Thursday that it will offer free legal advice for churches and pastors who want to speak out without jeopardizing the church’s tax-exempt status.
The firms have also prepared a free legal guide that discusses how churches and pastors can be legally and actively involved in election activities. The guide provides an overview of IRS regulations and requirements from the federal government.
"The best defense is to know your rights," says pro-life attorney Jim Bopp, the Madison Center’s lead counsel. "That’s why the Madison Center has teamed with the Alliance Defense Fund to both publish these guidelines and offer free legal advice to churches and their pastors and priests on this important topic."
"We must prevent the churches from being censored or chilled from speaking out on the great moral issues of the day," adds Alliance Defense Fund President Alan Sears.
Protecting churches from lawsuits by groups such as the ACLU and others is the primarily motivation for the legal rights guide. When churches and pastors discuss important issues such as abortion, they can sometimes come under fire from outside pressure groups.
"The need for these guidelines has greatly increased as the 2004 elections move closer and various groups have again engaged in intimidation tactics designed to silence churches, pastors and priests by sending ‘spies’ into congregations to gather information and report any perceived infraction to the IRS," the pro-life firms said in a statement.