Government intrusion into the affairs of the Church has become a growing threat to religious freedom and the inner workings of churches.
Ministers and church leaders are being told who they can or cannot hire and fire, how much they can discipline church members who violate scriptural standards of morality, and even when and where their church can meet. Pastors, lay leaders, and Christian ministry leaders are increasingly being pressured to preach only “politically correct” passages from the Bible, to conform their sermons to culturally accepted norms of what the Church “ought to talk about,” and to keep silent about “political” issues and candidates whose positions have profound moral consequences for the nation and their community.
Pastors are being told that city regulations or selective zoning restrictions prohibit their churches from using their own facilities and resources to minister to the poor and needy, that public parks aren’t available for church picnics, and that the ringing of church bells is “disturbing the peace” as well as the following:
Freedom to exercise religious beliefs
• State and Federal governments are interfering with the Church’s application of biblical standards to internal discipline and employment practices.
• Worship services are being disrupted by protestors who trespass or block access to church property.
Freedom of speech
• Threats of IRS audits and enforcement are used to intimidate and silence pastors who want to speak to their congregations – from a scriptural basis – about the positions of political candidates on moral issues.
• State governments are implementing campaign finance laws that treat churches as political action committees if pastors so much as encourage their people to vote for or against a particular law.
Freedom of Access
• Discriminatory policies are being used to deny churches equal access to hold worship services in public venues that other groups utilize without restriction or penalty.
• Zoning restrictions and land-use ordinances are being established that specifically discriminate against churches – restricting when and where services may be held.
The First Amendment guarantees your right to hear and speak the Truth, as well as the church’s freedom to enjoy equal access to public funds and facilities.
The government cannot legally tell you what Bible passages are off limits, or limit what prayer or message or Scripture you share in a public forum, or drive you from a public sidewalk, park, or building in which you are respectfully sharing your faith.
Government officials cannot arbitrarily enforce zoning laws just to keep your congregation out of places they don’t want you. However, laws like the Hate Crimes bill passed by Congress can lead to silencing anyone who would speak out against immoral behavior, even from the pulpit and open the doors for other legal persecutions against pastors and church.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ” The Constitution does not require pastors to be silent about political matters in their churches. The IRS Code does limit churches to using an “insubstantial” amount of their resources when lobbying for or against legislation, and prohibits churches from intervening in political campaigns.
The so-called “separation of church and state” is merely a rhetorical device that has been used for half a century to browbeat Christians and drive them out of the public square and keep them from freedoms our forefathers secured.