Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AC) “is calling on the Internal Revenue Service to look into allegations that Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., is violating restrictions for posting a link to a pro-family organization on its website.” What restrictions? The First Amendment does not prohibit churches from speaking out on any issue. The amendment is so clear that the people at AU almost never cite it:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Notice that the prohibition is directed at Congress, our nation’s national law-making body. It can’t establish a religion and it can’t prohibit the free exercise of religion. Here’s what Rob Boston, Communications Director with AU, had to say: “A church cannot link or direct people to an organization telling people how to vote. . . . All nonprofits, including churches, cannot endorse or oppose candidates. The IRS does warn nonprofits about linking to campaign-related websites.” To prohibit a church from linking to any site for any reason is a violation of the First Amendment. Notice that the First Amendment gives everybody, churches included, the right to speak about religion, write about religion, congregate about religion, and “petition the government for a redress of grievances,” the very thing this church is trying to do and Mr. Boston says it can’t do.