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Better luck next time... with the facts

ADF official comment
Published On: 10/18/2017

In an August 5th post by Amy Sullivan on Time’s Swampland blog, “Better Luck Next Time,” there were several factual errors that ADF would like to correct.


Sullivan wrote:“pastors were encouraged to use their pulpits to endorse John McCain”

·         Not accurate.  Participating pastors were not directed in any way as to what they should say about one candidate or another.  ADF reached out to a wide range of clergy from numerous denominations, many of whom would clearly have been supportive of then-candidate Obama had they participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday.  ADF would have defended those clergy-members had they participated with as much vigor as anyone who opposed then-candidate Obama.  (*Amy mentions All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena later in the post – ADF offered free legal representation to All Saints when it came under attack.  The point is, ADF is defending the same constitutional principle across the board and should ADF win, everyone will be more free, including Leftist churches.)


Sullivan wrote:  the IRS has informed some of the several dozen churches that participated that they are no longer under investigation.”

·         Not accurate.  Only Rev. Gus Booth’s file has been closed.  No other pastor of the 33 who participated in the Pulpit Initiative last year has heard anything from the IRS.


Sullivan wrote: Disappointed, the ADF has announced plans to hold another Pulpit Freedom Sunday on September 27, in the hopes of more successfully baiting the IRS.”

·         Not accurate.  “Pulpit Freedom Sunday II” was planned long before the IRS closed Rev. Booth’s file, so this year’s event was not in response to this news.  ADF intends to have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional, so the Pulpit Initiative will exist as long as it is in place.  So obviously, there will be a “Pulpit Freedom Sunday III” in 2010 unless the unconstitutional IRS speech restrictions are overturned before then.     


Sullivan wrote: What the ADF-inspired churches are seeking to do is something else--actively participate in political campaigns”

·         Not accurate.  These pastors do not want to participate in political campaigns, nor is ADF “inspiring” them to do so.  They merely seek the right to speak the whole counsel of Scripture as they see it (like All Saints did, and had the right to do) from the pulpit without IRS speech police threatening them.  What Amy writes creates the false impression that churches mean to become campaign HQ for some politician or another.  This just isn’t true.  The concern is the censorship of sermons delivered from the pulpit.


Sullivan wrote: “But it was an open secret among religious conservatives that Pulpit Freedom Sunday would provide a handy Plan B in the event of Obama's election: If the IRS acted as expected and revoked the churches' status, they could then declare that "Obama's IRS" was muzzling pastors in their pulpits.”

·         Completely false.  Had Sen. McCain been elected, ADF would be fighting the same battle in the same manner.  The issue is not what administration happens to be in power now or in the future.  Rather, the issue is the IRS and the Johnson Amendment.  Thus, Lyndon B. Johnson is the only president whose name is associated in any way with this initiative.  ADF is concerned exclusively with constitutional principle, not personalities or particular politicians.



For a complete and accurate explanation of the ADF Pulpit Initiative, see the week-long LA Times “Dust Up” debate between ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley and Barry Lynn: Pulpit politics


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