Churches Can Ignore Catholics United, Pro-Life Literature Distribution Not Illegal
by Steven Ertelt
November 2, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading pro-life attorney who is the dean of a law school says Catholic and Protestant churches and pastors need not worry about pro-life literature distribution occurring this weekend. Matt Staver of the Liberty Counsel tells LifeNews.com the dissemination of pro-life information is perfectly legal.
The reassurances from Stave, founder of the pro-life law firm known as Liberty Counsel and the dean of the law school at Liberty University in Virginia, come after groups made threats this week.
Catholics United, a front group for Barack Obama that has misled some Catholic voters into thinking he is pro-life on abortion, urged its supporters to confront pro-life advocates this weekend.
The Obama backers were told to ask Catholic priests and church leaders to block the distribution of the pro-life voting information and suggested the pro-life fliers be removed from vehicles.
Father Frank Pavone, the founder and director of Priests for Life, emailed CU officials and told them he would consider legal action if pro-life advocates are prevented from exercising their First Amendment rights to educate voters on pro-life issues.
Barry Lynn, the head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has also scared pastors, priests and other church leaders with letter saying they could face the loss of their nonprofit status for allowing the information.
Staver tells LifeNews.com that pro-life people distributing voter information are within their legal grounds and Constitutional rights.
"Barry Lynn’s attempt to scare pastors is as hollow as a Halloween Jack-O-Lantern," Staver said.
He said Lynn’s group has "once again have cluttered mailboxes and jammed fax machines with the same worn out, toothless letter that attempts to scare pastors about politics, in an attempt to trick them into being silent until after the election."
"The truth is that pastors and church leaders do not need to violate IRS regulations on political activity in order to impact the 2008 election. There are a wide variety of permissible activities to activate voters and encourage them to vote their values," Staver said.
While churches may not endorse or oppose candidates for elective office, pastors can preach on biblical and moral issues, such as abortion, can urge the congregation to register and vote, and can overview the positions of the candidates, Staver explains.
Churches may distribute nonpartisan voter guides, register voters, hold candidate forums. And individual church members or members of the public can place pro-life information on the windshield’s of cars in the church parking lots.
Staver says that, since 1954, only one church has ever lost its IRS letter ruling — and even that church didn’t lose its tax-exempt status. The church in question went as far as sponsoring ads opposing the election of a candidate.
"Pastors should throw away the muzzle of fear and replace it with a megaphone of boldness," Staver concludes. "Pastors can preach biblical truths and educate their congregations about the critical moral issues at stake in this election without violating any IRS rules."
"It was sermons of pastors that fueled the American Revolution. America needs her pastors to once again speak up and address the religious and moral issues of the day," Staver concludes.
Related web sites:
Liberty Counsel – https://www.LC.org
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