My investigation into the Federal tax code with regard to the speech prohibitions on tax exempt charities and religious organizations "endorsing from the pulpit" continue.
The primary objection to this, as opposed to other advocacy or education activities permitted under the law, seems to be the theory of "undue influence." The liberal proponents of this law all make reference to it. This position is summarized in a column recently appearing in the Baltimore Chronicle, by Professor John Hickman:
Voting decisions in a healthy liberal democracy ought to be free of bribery, intimidation or undue influence. That is why Americans adopted the secret (or Australian ballot) in the late 19th century. The problem is that some religious believers invest their clergy with unquestioning trust, and some clergy are more than willing to abuse that trust for ideological and partisan ends. Christian Right clergy already reduce complex social issues to choices between "good" and "evil" in their sermons. Is it wise to give them license to reduce the voting decision itself to the same primitive level? Permitting clergy to explicitly instruct congregants on their voting decisions during church services is a fundamental assault on the political autonomy of our fellow citizens. What is next? Should clergy be allowed to monitor them while they are in the voting booth?
Aha, it's a slippery slope! After clergy are allowed to monitor voter booth activity, what's next after that? Church's hosting voting booths in their basements! Wait a minute ....
Let's say we even out the slippery slope and promise the clergy won't be allowed to monitor voting booth behavior. Then will the liberals agree to allow freedom of speech at the pulpit?
Is the Pope Presbyterian?
The first part of the good professor's argument is the primary thrust. Even if it goes no further, we simply cannot allow it because people are unquestioning sheep waiting for their primitive marching orders to deal with complex, nuanced choices between "good" and "evil".
(The scare quotes around "good" and "evil" are particularly telling. You get the sense that if churches would accept his view that good and evil are abstract concepts with no relevance to religious teaching, preachers could endorse anything they want from the pulpit.)
In other words, due to the stupidity of the average person, people in positions of authority cannot be allowed to influence political behavior (under the penalty of tax code destruction).
As asinine as the premise, and implications, of this law are, you could *almost* live with it, if it was conscientiously and consistently applied. But all I see are six 501c3 clerics judging Obama as unfit getting persecuted, while other 501c3 clerics endorsing Obama laugh all the way to their tax free shelter.
Furthermore, these same stupid, easily influenced people are attending other tax advantaged events and getting all the political indoctrination they can stand.
How about 501c3 arts organizations holding charity functions featuring 10 minute harangues by the hosts about how rotten Republicans are? Anyone morons in the audience getting unduly influenced there?
How about hosts on 501c3 radio stations touring the country with the expressed purpose of bashing Republicans? Any imbeciles in that audience getting unduly influenced?
How about employees of government schools holding demonstrations for one particular presidential candidate during school hours? Any rubes in training having their political beliefs permanently influenced unduly by these people in authority?
When is the last time any of these tax advantaged organizations got investigated by the IRS or condemned by leftist professors for conducting fundamental assaults on the political autonomy of our fellow citizens.
If our fellow Americans are the doltish oafs the tax law regarding religious institutions presumes, then all of these other voices must be silenced as well.
Undoubtedly, some legitimate First Amendment objections would arise to such widespread and consistent application of the tax law. That's really the problem here, the First Amendment. The fools who wrote that didn't seem to understand what idiots we the people really are.
UPDATE: Ignoramuses attending the University of Illinois in dire risk of being unduly influenced by authority figures. Left wing protectors of our political autonomy, swarm! Swarm!