By Marty Russell
God weighed in on the presidential election this past Sunday as more than 1,000 mostly conservative and evangelical churches participated in something called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a move sponsored by a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom to challenge the Internal Revenue Service’s ban on pastors endorsing political candidates. Doing so, according to the law, can cost a church its tax-exempt status.
The purpose was obviously to provoke a confrontation with the IRS and prompt a crackdown that would play right into the hands of the religious right. Fortunately, if anyone can spot a ruse from a mile away it’s the IRS and no such crackdown is likely to occur.
It’s not likely anyone was listening to the sermons endorsing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, ironically a Mormon, anyway. Most congregants probably have their minds made up already and, if you have to have someone else tell you who to vote for, then you’re either too lazy or too dumb or both to be voting anyway.
It was purely a political move to influence the election that even a blind cleric could see through and anyone who truly values their right to vote and what it means would have gotten up and walked out. It’s one thing to have a reasoned debate about an election, quite another to have your choice dictated by someone pretending to speak for God. What are they going to do if you don’t vote their way? Refuse to accept your money?
But it got me to thinking about whether God really would want to get involved in politics, so I did what all good pastors tell us we should do and decided to talk to him. I asked God if he really was choosing sides in this election.
“Naw, I was backing Rick Perry,” God said. “Even the Creator of the universe likes a good laugh now and then, otherwise I wouldn’t have made an animal called a wombat. That Perry, he cracked me up. I was rolling in the golden streets while he was running. It would have been a fun four years.
“You guys had a pretty good idea with that First Amendment thing about separation of church and state. They should be kept separate, preferably with razor wire. You can’t legislate morality, especially when you’re breaking the law while trying to do it.”
I asked him if he thought churches should be taxed.
“Sure,” God said, “just like any corporation. They make money, they create jobs, they provide services, after all, that’s what they’re called – church services. Slap a sin tax on ’em. If anyone in the congregation sins, tax the church for not doing its job and then, like that Romney fellow, fire the pastor for not doing his or hers.”
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org