The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life,
September 28, 2004
the Envelope? The Political Activities of Religious
Organizations in Campaign 2004
Washington, D.C. -- When a Bush-Cheney Campaign
staffer emailed a supporter in Pennsylvania
in June to ask for help identifying churches
where "voters friendly to President Bush
might gather on a regular basis," religious
watchdog groups were quick to denounce the
move as a violation of the separation of church
and state. Yet for years congregations of varying
denominations and political persuasions have
sought to participate in the political process
from holding voter registration drives
to issuing voter guides to endorsing candidates
from the pulpit. Just where should churches
draw the line?
The Internal Revenue Service has restricted the
political activity of tax-exempt, non-profit
organizations since 1954. But in the past two
years, legislation in Congress has sought to
lift the IRS restrictions to allow for more
active involvement from churches and other
houses of worship. Exactly how far can religious
groups go to participate in the political process
without breaking the law? Does the tax code
need to be changed? Is the IRS targeting religious
organizations and especially those of
a particular political persuasion for
enforcement of rules meant to govern all tax-exempt,
Please join the Pew Forum on Religion & Public
Life for a discussion of these timely issues.
At the event, the Forum will release the 2004
edition of Politics and the Pulpit: A Guide
to the Internal Revenue Code Restrictions on
the Political Activity of Religious Organizations.
Richard Land, President, Southern Baptist Convention's
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Robert Tuttle, Professor of Law, George Washington
University Law School
Ronald Walters, Director, African American
Leadership Institute; Professor of Government
and Politics, University of Maryland
Luis Lugo, Director, The Pew Forum on Religion
& Public Life
LUIS LUGO: We should know better at the Pew Forum
than to schedule these events after a Redskins
game. People are dealing with depression typically
and it takes them a while to get back into
it. In any case, we are delighted you are here.
Good morning to all of you, and thank you for
joining us today. My name is Luis Lugo and
I am the director of the Pew Forum on Religion
& Public Life, which is a project of the
new Pew Research Center. The Forum is a nonpartisan
organization and we do not take positions on
policy debates, including the issue under consideration
It's my pleasure to welcome you to what we believe
will be a very lively and very informative
discussion on the political activities of religious
organizations. The event coincides with the
release of "Politics and the Pulpit 2004:
A Guide to the Internal Revenue Code Restrictions
on the Political Activity of Religious Organizations."
My candidate for the subtitle was actually
"A Guide for the Perplexed," but
I was outvoted on that one. I wanted to reintroduce
Maimonides to the American public. (Chuckles.)
In any case, this is a handy little pamphlet
in question-and-answer form. It's a version
of something we put out a couple years ago
and we wanted to update it, to try to explain
in very simple English the relevant law in
this area. For anyone who didn't get a copy
on your way in, please pick one up from the
registration table on your way out.
As you probably know, Section 501(c)(3) of the
Internal Revenue Code exempts churches and
other houses of worship from taxation. But
in order to maintain their tax-exempt status,
religious organizations must refrain from partisan
political activity such as endorsing a candidate
from the pulpit, for instance. On the surface
it all sounds pretty simple, but as with much
of the law, it can be complicated and even
bewildering to the uninitiated. Indeed, this
issue sows perpetual confusion among the very
people most responsible for following the rules
the clergy. Every election year, ministers,
rabbis, imams and other clergy find themselves
wondering what the boundaries are regarding
political activity. Can they invite a candidate
to address the congregation? Can they hold
a voter registration drive or hand out issue
guides? Can they endorse a candidate for public
office if they do so in their capacity as a
private citizen? All the answers, by the way,
are in here.
Now, the current bitterly contested campaign
season has seen an upsurge of attention paid
to this issue. A massive effort by the Bush-Cheney
campaign to mobilize religious voters, for
instance, has prompted accusations that it
is indirectly encouraging churches to violate
the rules. And John Kerry and other Democrats'
appearances at predominately African-American
churches have led to charges that they have
turned worship services into campaign rallies.
This, of course, has kept watchdog groups quite
busy. For instance, Americans United for Separation
of Church and State recently filed a high-profile
complaint with the IRS against the Reverend
Jerry Falwell, citing his endorsement of President
Bush in an e-mail newsletter sent to supporters.
Americans United also has asked the agency
to look into an event held by a Miami church
just last month at which Democratic National
Committee chair Terry McAuliffe and former
Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton
appealed to congregants to work to defeat Bush
The issue has also generated attention on Capitol
Hill, where a number of bills have been introduced
that would scale back or eliminate the 501(c)(3)
limits on churches' political activities. Although
they have drawn sizeable support, especially
in the House, none have been enacted thus far.
To help us sort out these issues, we are delighted
to have with us a very distinguished panel.
You have a biographical sketch of each of them
in your packets, so my introductions will be
brief. Bob Tuttle, who will speak first, is
professor of law at George Washington University.
Bob earned his law degree at GW, and he has
a Ph.D. in religious ethics from the University
of Virginia. With his colleague Ira "Chip"
Lupu, he also co-directs the Legal Tracking
Project of the Roundtable on Religion and Social
Welfare Policy, which, by the way, is funded
by a generous grant from The Pew Charitable
Trusts. Small world, isn't it?
Although we wanted to have great legal expertise
on this panel, we do not wish to limit the
discussion to legal issues. We also are very
interested in looking at the question from
the other side; that is to say, from the perspective
of church leaders and how they understand their
pastoral responsibilities in this realm. So
we are very pleased to have on the panel two
people who are intimately acquainted with the
on-the-ground perspectives I said on-the-ground,
not underground (laughter) perspectives
of religious organizations. May not be a bad
idea for some of those activities, but we will
get to that shortly. In fact, they work closely
with the two religious communities black
Protestants and white evangelicals that
are most frequently accused of pushing the
envelope too far.
Ron Walters is the director of the African American
Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland.
He is a regular guest on national television
and radio shows and is a frequent speaker to
black church audiences. Ron is the author of
six books including Black Presidential Politics
in America, for which he won the Ralph Bunch
Prize of the American Political Science Association.
I should add that Ron's understanding of black
presidential politics comes from personal experience
as well as scholarly research, as he was the
Reverend Jesse Jackson's deputy campaign manager
during Jackson's 1984 bid for the White House.
We are also joined by Richard Land, who, since
1998, has served as president of The Ethics
& Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern
Baptist Convention. Like our other panelists,
Richard has an impressive academic background
that includes a D.Phil. that's what
the Brits call a Ph.D., is that right, Richard?
from Oxford University and a B.A. from
Princeton. An ordained Baptist minister, he
is also the co-host of "For Faith &
Family," a weekday call-in radio show.
Richard is overseeing a large voter education
effort called iVoteValues.com for the Southern
Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant
denomination in this country.
Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
We look forward to your comments and the conversation
to follow. As Bob comes up to the podium, I
would like to ask all of you please to follow
my good example and either turn off your cell
phones or put that vibrator mode on, if you
would. Thank you so much. Bob.
ROBERT TUTTLE: Thank you all and good morning.
I want to thank Luis and the folks at the Pew
Forum both for this event and also for putting
out yet another great edition of this guide.
For the last two years, since its first edition,
this has been the main thing that I refer pastors
and other church leaders to, and I think that
the new version of the guide is even clearer
in an area that is very, very complicated,
and gives people some assurance that there
are some safe ways of negotiating these problems.
I want to talk a few minutes this morning about
the legal context the legal backdrop
to the ongoing debate over the 501(c)(3)
limitation on political activity by charitable
organizations. I'm going to leave the tax policy
and the broader public policy and the theological
questions about this issue to others, or for
First, I think it's important to clarify that
the current rule is not in any way required
by any reasonable interpretation of the Constitution's
religion clauses. Nothing about the doctrine
of separation of church and state, to the extent
that there is such a doctrine, would require
that religious organizations not involve themselves
in political activity. As a matter of fact,
I can't think of a conceivable argument that
the Constitution would prohibit such activity
by a religious organization. So it is a statutory
and a regulatory limit. It is not a limit that
arises out of the Constitution, and specifically
the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
to the federal Constitution.
So what about the Internal Revenue Code's restriction?
Those who work for its repeal or limitation
tend to argue in constitutional language. They
use the rhetoric of free exercise or of free
speech, and the latter tends to be, I think,
quite a strong rhetorical move. You have the
specter of IRS agents lurking in the back of
churches or other religious assemblies sort
of waiting for someone to say the wrong thing
or make the wrong move, and all of a sudden
they pounce with the full force of the law.
That looks like censorship, and not just censorship,
but censorship in two of the contexts of which
the Constitution has been most protective
political speech and religious speech. This
looks like sort of the paradigm for constitutional
violation, and you can see this even in the
language of the current bill offered by Representative
Jones, the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration
Act. We have houses of worship under assault.
As legal arguments, however, the free exercise
and free speech claims are extraordinarily
weak. The free exercise claim that is,
that the limitation on political activity by
churches violates free exercise is a
very tough argument to make. Even at the height
of the law's solicitude for burdens on religious
organizations back in the 1980s it would have
been a tough one, but since Employment Division
of Oregon v. Smith, it's almost inconceivable
that this rule would be regarded as a burden
on free exercise of religious organizations.
The law does not target religious organizations
or the religious for any kind of special burden.
The rule applies to all charitable organizations
as defined under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal
Even under an earlier version of free exercise
analysis, or perhaps the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act, which might apply in this
context, it's still a tough argument to make
because the burden placed on the free exercise
of religion is quite small, at least in terms
of the way courts have seen it. What is the
burden? Well, the burden is, you can't use
a 501(c)(3) religious organization to engage
in political activity you can't use
a 501(c)(3) vehicle. But you can use any number
of other entities for achieving that purpose.
Individuals can speak; it's just a limitation
on activity conducted by a specific kind of
The free speech argument seems, at least at first
glance, to be stronger. We have a government
imposing a tax literally, revoking the
tax exemption of organizations that choose
to engage in a particular kind of speech; that
is, political speech. But the Supreme Court's
free speech jurisprudence offers virtually
no support to that argument. As a threshold
matter, the court would regard this restriction
as viewpoint neutral; that is, it doesn't single
out Democratic or Republican or some other
kind of political speech it applies
neutrally to all kinds of political activity.
It's not going to receive the strictest scrutiny
that courts would apply.
So the rule instead falls under what lawyers
tend to call "time, place and manner"
restrictions. Lawyers use that as all one word,
although there are three: time, place, manner.
The best example would be a parade restriction.
Parades are fine, but you can't have one across
the 14th Street Bridge in the middle of rush
hour, or more precisely, if you do, you are
likely to get arrested. That is not a right
of free speech to have that parade in that
particular place and time. Or noise regulation
in rock concerts yes, they can tell
you how many decibels you can have your amps
turned up to. It's not a violation of free
speech the manner in which you speak
can be regulated.
This Internal Revenue Code regulation is precisely
such a limit. It says, if you are going to
engage in this kind of political speech, you
have to do it through a structure other than
the one that enjoys the exemption under Section
501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. So
it would fall into this less rigorous mode
of constitutional analysis. Well, it doesn't
mean that the government automatically wins;
it just means the court's not going to be as
scrupulous in looking at it.
So what, then, would the court do? Well, first,
it has to ask whether the government's purpose
in limiting the speech is important, or "non-trivial."
How do we understand this restriction? Is it
just the whim of Lyndon Baines Johnson, as
some would argue you know, he had a
bad campaign experience and now he's going
to impose this? Perhaps, but there also are
some justifications for the current rule. Section
501(c)(3) is unique in its treatment of exempt
organizations for one special purpose: those
entities created under 501(c)(3) get donations
that enjoy charitable deductions. In other
words, anybody who is a donor to a 501(c)(3)
gets to deduct their donation from their own
income tax. That is a benefit not enjoyed by
donors to any other type of exempt organization
under the Code. So the question then is, is
there any reason that the United States Congress
would want to single out 501(c)(3) organizations
from other exempt organizations with respect
to political activity? The answer is, at least
plausibly, yes, because we don't want to give
a tax subsidy that is, grant income
tax deductions to those who contribute
to political campaigns. It's a policy judgment;
it may be good or bad, but it's one I can't
see the court regarding as trivial.
Then the court would look at the question of
the relationship between the means used to
effectuate the purpose and this purpose of
eliminating tax deductions for political expenditures.
Is that a close enough link that we think that
Congress was being reasonable in choosing this
restriction to reach that end? And again, the
answer is likely to be yes. The restriction
is not too broad; that is, it doesn't impose
on 501(c)(3) organizations an obligation never
to talk about political issues or never to
have individuals serving on their boards or
as officers who engage in political conduct.
Both of those would be vastly over-broad. This
is targeted to activity of the organization
that enjoys that exemption.
Third, and most important in this analysis of
time, place and manner, is the question of
whether the law affords reasonable alternative
avenues for speech. In other words, can the
people that are restricted by this rule still
engage in that speech activity? Well, what
are the options? It's not simple, but if you
are a religious organization and you have an
abiding passion to buy an ad in a paper criticizing
George Bush, well, you just have to make sure
you don't do it through the forum of the 501(c)(3)
organization. You have to set up some other
kind of entity, a 501(c)(4), and that 501(c)(4)
can set up a political action committee. It
takes a little bit of time it takes
maybe an hour in your tax lawyer's office
but it's not an incredible burden to do it,
and if that's the case, then all you have to
do is make sure that the money that flows into
that political action committee doesn't come
out of the coffers of your religious organization,
and anybody who is making a contribution to
that PAC isn't induced to do so with some promise
of tax deductibility. It's relatively simple
to do. Look, any time you are talking about
tax, simple is a relative term. (Laughter.)
Fourth, there is no evidence that the application
of the standard has been discriminatory. All
right, so we think there is a decent purpose
for doing this, and the way the government
has been going about it has not been proven
to be discriminatory. In 2000, both judicial
and legislative findings the Branch
Ministries case and the Joint Committee on
Taxation found that enforcement had
not been discriminatory in practice. These
are tough things to search out because there
are all kinds of implications about what the
IRS is saying to someone that never makes it
into the official record. But nonetheless,
the point of discriminatory enforcement hasn't
More importantly, I think that when you look
at the structure of IRS enforcement, discretion
about which organizations to go after is cabined
it's quite limited. Any movement toward
an inquiry has to go through the highest offices
of the exempt organizations office of the Internal
Revenue Service. I mean, that requires not
just letting an agent out in some field office
decide when to, you know, lean on a church,
but that if the IRS is really going to get
involved in an investigation, they have to
go through a senior official in Washington.
The process is centralized, and if such a process
is started, both by statute and by regulation,
the means of conducting such an inquiry are
incredibly circumscribed. Churches have a great
deal of protection in the course of Internal
Revenue investigations. So the concerns about
overly discretionary or discriminatory enforcement
seem not to have been proven, although that
is, of course, an empirical matter.
The only significant constitutional implications
of this rule, I think, are those found in the
Establishment Clause, and not so much with
the rule as it exists now, but with a proposed
change to the rule, one that would exempt religious
organizations from this restriction on engagement
in political speech. On its face, the proposed
rule purports to single out religious organizations
for a special benefit. Religious organizations,
but not other 501(c)(3)s, could engage in political
activity and do so with tax deductible donations.
Now, Representative Jones' bill the
current version is a bit more limited
than that, but that is at least a conceptual
way of understanding this proposal. This would
be a benefit, as I said, not shared by other
So the question is, does this benefit look like
a cash subsidy to religious organizations for
their participation in political activity?
Courts, both at the state and federal level,
tend to give legislatures pretty significant
discretion in determining when those kinds
of benefits will be seen as a reasonable attempt
by the legislature to remove a burden on the
religious liberty of an organization. In other
words, if the legislature sets out to remove
what it feels to be a burden on religious activity,
even if that burden really isn't a constitutional
burden, the courts tend to give the legislature
deference and don't call such provisions establishments.
I think this is a close call. The best justification
might be that an exemption for religious organizations
is the best way to avoid entangling government
agencies with the ongoing religious life of
the congregation. Back to the specter of an
IRS agent sitting in the back of a church,
you know, just jotting down how many times
they have done something that looks like it's
political. We might tend to see that as an
entanglement of government in religion.
I don't know, I think it's a close call. The
claim of avoiding entanglement is undercut
to a great extent by the IRS's very loose enforcement
standards in this context. But I do think that
that question whether an exemption for
religious organizations violates the Establishment
Clause by conferring an improper benefit, or
whether that exemption in fact removes the
problem of entanglement I think that
is the constitutional question that remains
for this. I don't think it's a very close call
on the free speech or free exercise questions.
MR. LUGO: Ron Walters.
RONALD WALTERS: Thank you very much, Luis.
I obviously am going to leave the legal issues
where they stand and talk a little bit more
about some of the political implications. Luis
already referred to something that I am going
to mention again, but let me just say that,
for those who are not aware, there is something
else that connects me to this forum, and it
is a study funded by Pew, on the Public Influences
of African American Churches. This study, of
course, had over 1,900 ministers in a national
survey and 23 city profiles. My shop was pleased
to do the one for the District of Columbia,
looking at the role of religion and churches
in political life. That study is essentially
now completed. The data is gathered; the books
are coming out. Duke University Press is getting
ready to begin to usher them forth. And so
I was pleased to participate as a board member
and a researcher in that study that has taken
us now some three years to complete.
Let me say that in normal times, the black church,
as most people know, has been a part of the
political mobilization of the black community,
and the reason for that, of course, is relatively
simple. During the slavery days, the church
really was the only institution that was allowed
to flourish, and because it did, it took on
180 degrees of activity with respect to various
aspects of the enhancement of African-American
life. Politics, of course, was one of those,
and so as the political participation of blacks
increased, so did over time the role of the
church increase. And of course we have come
now to the current election cycle where, in
my judgment, the role of the African-American
church is more politicized than ever before.
Let me just read you one or two things from the
Pew study. The question is, "Should black
churches be involved in politics?" The
response to that those who strongly
agree and agree was 78 percent. That
is not, again, the usual. There was a much
higher response to that in a previous study
done by Lincoln and MIA it was 91.6
percent. So we have got some decline in those
who feel and these are blacks
that the church should be involved in politics.
Another question is, "In the last two years,
how often have political candidates or elected
officials delivered speeches or remarks within
your worship services?" And this, of course,
is counterintuitive because what it says is
more than 10 times 5.4 percent; 5-10
times 10.6 percent. So all together,
we are saying that only 16 percent of the respondents
claim that in the last two years politicians
or candidates have delivered speeches in their
churches. One wonders of course why that is
These responses, of course, are particularly
in the political realm. Let me go to one final
response that I just plucked out of here. "How
regularly has your congregation had the following
involvement with civic or political groups?"
And it's giving money, for example, frequently
13.8 percent, frequent; 39.8 percent,
sometimes. So giving money is one of the ways
that the churches have been involved with civic
and political groups.
The other big one that sticks out here is attending
meetings that is 37 percent. Beyond
that, of course, there is one thing
another question I want to refer to. "During
the last 10 years, has your congregation engaged
in any of the following activities? Helped
in voter registration drives?"
67.7 percent, and "Given rides to people
to the election polls?" and that is 51.7
percent. Those are uniquely tailored toward
political activity in various communities,
and you can see that it's a relatively strong
pattern of participation on the part of African-American
Within this election cycle, my seat-of-the-pants
impression is that black churches are not connected
as strongly as they have been in the past,
not only from sort of the rough empirical evidence
that we have here of a decline in that, but
also by my sort of eyeballing this process.
I have been out in the country doing voter
mobilization workshops from one end to the
other, just very recently for the Dallas Council
of Churches. They had a big conclave two weeks
ago 84 ministers in Prince George's
County. They all seem somehow disconnected
from what is going on in the political season
this time around. We try to account for that.
One thing, of course, which Luis has already
referred to, is the IRS challenge. The IRS
is uniquely in an activist mode, and one wonders,
you know, where that comes from, especially
if, as Bob Tuttle said, that it really takes
a decision at the top of the bureaucratic latter
somewhere in this town in order for the IRS
to begin to raise what are essentially political
questions with churches. So one wonders why
all of a sudden the IRS is being unleashed
on black churches. The First Baptist Church
in Tampa, Florida, was one of the most recent
of those churches.
In addition to that, I would say that it could
be linked to something that we feel very strongly
about in the black community, which is voter
suppression campaigns. In Florida, Bob Herbert
of The Washington Post recently wrote about
Florida state troopers intimidating elderly
black voters, going into the heart of the church
community and talking about, and trying to
root out, so-called voter fraud. This, of course,
is tied to another series of articles that
I have seen about the activities of Attorney
General John Ashcroft, who has been associated
since the 2002 election cycle with so-called
voter integrity programs. Voter integrity programs
have ostensibly the same sort of objective
of rooting out voter fraud. The impact, of
course, and the intent, one suspects, is to
intimidate black voters, and if anybody would
want me to expand on that, I would be glad
to do it.
There is a third dynamic which is not associated
with the administration or the Republican Party
(I think that is the first time I have mentioned
the Republican Party, but I mention them because
they are uniquely involved in the voter suppression
campaigns around the country that are directed
at black voters): it's Democrats the
new dynamic has something to do with the 527s
that have come into the picture and that are
all of a sudden raising substantial amounts
of money and are directing voter registration
and voter turnout activities, and a lot of
that they are directing in the black community.
This mainstreaming of voter registration and
turnout methodology reduces the role of the
black churches. Why do I say that? Because
essentially, what they are doing is using sort
of tried and true methodologies of campaigning
arming canvassers with palm pilots and
blackberries, sending them out to communities
to identify unregistered black voters and try
to persuade them to register and then eventually
The black church of course has had a very strong
role in that in the past, and so to the extent
that now these very powerful financially laden
organizations have come into this picture,
it has supplanted a very important ingredient.
Now, as far as I am concerned, I think that
is a danger to Democrats. It's a danger to
Democrats because you can't turn out black
voters with palm pilots and blackberries. They
just don't turn out that way. They turn out
essentially because they have heard the voice
of somebody who is credible in their communities
the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons.
I don't care how much people don't like them,
the fact is black people respond to them because
they have a message that resonates with the
culture and the condition of the black community.
So now if you shove these people to the side
or give them minimal roles, it means that you
are endangering the whole process of political
participation and eventually turnout.
The last point I will make before I sit down
is that I think it is true that when one looks
at the Bush administration, that it is trying
to make, I think, a lot more of this relationship
between religion and politics. HR-235, of course,
has been already mentioned. I think essentially
when I first looked at it and talked to some
of the members in the Congressional Black Caucus,
they were very wary because they said, "Well,
this is not really aimed at us. This is aimed
at turning on white evangelicals." And
I said, "Well, all right, that changes
my mind," because I thought that if it
was I had talked to some African-American
ministers and it seemed to me that they were
also fishing around for some legal basis for
their political participation in this highly
And the tip-off on 235 was Speaker Denny Hastert
pushing this through the House. And so when
he did, members of the Congressional Black
Caucus said, "Uh-oh, this is not for us."
It was a very aggressive push, but it didn't
go anywhere hasn't gone anywhere so
far. The other thing is that when you look
at the list of co-sponsors, and the prime sponsor,
it's really very clear that this is not something
aimed necessarily at the black church.
Nevertheless, I think that the Bush administration
has focused on black churches from the very
beginning, essentially, through the faith-based
programs. The critique of course initially
was that they would have come to have some
relationship to political participation, and
if one looks at some of the things that have
been done the memorandum that was sent
from one of Karl Rove's staff persons into
the black church community in Philadelphia
instructing people, advising people of what
sort of activities to do, by when. I have seen
the memorandum. It's really a very interesting
piece. So that there is some focus on the black
church by the Bush administration.
And that leads to my conclusion, when one takes
all of these into consideration and sums them
up, that in this cycle, the black church is
more highly politicized than ever before.
MR. LUGO: Richard, thank you so much for catching
the red-eye from Los Angeles to join us today.
I hope you are awake.
RICHARD LAND: I am. In fact, I caught the red-eye
because I wanted to speak where I spoke yesterday
and I wanted to speak here. And where I spoke
yesterday was the Korean Christian Coalition.
Representatives from about 4,000 Korean-American
churches who are part of a coalition to get
the North Korea Human Rights Act passed. In
other words, Asian-American Christians
evangelical Christians and judging from
the meeting, some charismatic evangelical Korean
Christians, I think they were sometimes
it was Korean, and sometimes it was ecstatic
utterance, I'm not sure, but it's an interdenominational
coalition. I don't speak Korean and I don't
speak ecstatic utterance either. I'm one of
those non-charismatic evangelicals.
The reason we are having this forum, the reason
this is being discussed so much is that there
is an increasing intersection between religious
conviction and the moral values that are informed
by religious convictions and public policy.
And how does that get decided in this culture?
It gets decided through the political process.
And America, by every indication, is getting
more religious, not less religious, and is
driving all of the sociological models of modernity
completely batty because we are not behaving
the way modern cultures are supposed to behave.
One of the oldest truisms of modernity is that
the more modern a culture, a society, gets
the more impacted by modernity it is
the less religious it becomes. That
certainly has proven to be true in Western
Europe, it certainly has proven to be true
in the United Kingdom and it certainly has
proven to be true in Canada. But it is not
true in the United States. In fact, exactly
the opposite is the case, and the United States
looks a lot more like the rest of the world
when you start surveying this culture about
the role that religion plays in the lives of
individuals and the lives of families and the
lives of communities, and in what they would
want it to play in the life of a culture, and
how it impacts how they deal with public policy
Now, when Mr. Tuttle got up and spoke, I was
surprised by his first statement, which was
that the IRS regulations had nothing to do
with the First Amendment, and I thought, wow,
I like that. (Laughter.) So that means if it
has nothing to do with the First Amendment,
then Congress can change it, and the Supreme
Court is not going to mess it up. But then
he came back at the end and said that it actually
might have something to do with the Establishment
Clause of the First Amendment. So I would like
for him to amplify that later because I was
comforted, and then he seemed to take back
some of the comfort at the end. (Laughter.)
Let me get my cards on the table. As a Southern
Baptist evangelical, we support the Jones Bill.
We think that the government shouldn't be deciding
whether churches can get involved in public
policy issues to a political extent
to a partisan extent. Having said that, we
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
do not believe that churches ought to
be endorsing candidates. We don't think that
churches ought to be getting involved in partisan
activity, but we think that ought to be a decision
made by the church, not by the government.
So our position is that we discourage churches
from engaging in that kind of activity. The
history of political parties is that they will
use and will exploit anyone that they can exploit
for their purposes, and that includes churches
and it includes religious organizations. I
believe that churches and religious organizations
and their pastors have an obligation to try
to protect their people from being exploited
and used and manipulated by political parties
who, by their very nature, will exploit, use
and manipulate for their ultimate purpose,
which is to gain, attain and keep power for
their purposes. And those purposes are often
at odds with the purposes for which people
of faith are involved in the political process
and in the public policy process.
So even if the Jones Bill passes, we will continue
to discourage Southern Baptists and other evangelical
churches from getting involved in a partisan
way in public policy, and certainly refrain
from endorsing candidates. What we have been
saying for years and years is that Christians
ought to be registered to vote, and they ought
to be informed about where the candidates stand
on the issues, and they ought to be looking
for candidates that endorse them. They shouldn't
be endorsing candidates; they should be looking
for candidates who endorse them, who endorse
their values, who endorse their beliefs, and
who endorse their convictions.
Now, we currently have an 18-wheeler, which used
to be used to sell merchandise from the Charlie
Daniels Band after all, we are based
in Nashville and it is now the iVoteValues.com
Express. It's part of a year-long campaign
to heighten awareness of people in the Southern
Baptist and evangelical community, that they
ought to be registered to vote, to help them
get registered to vote, to help them get informed
on the issues, and then to encourage them to
vote their values, their beliefs and their
One of my trustees is a pastor in Knoxville,
and he had some deacons in his church (and
you understand pastors take deacons very seriously
in Baptist churches) who were upset that the
18-wheeler was coming to their church because
these folks were self-described yellow-dog
Democrats and they suspected that this was
not a partisan-neutral situation. Well, the
pastor took them on a personal tour of the
18-wheeler, the iVoteValues.com Express, and
when he finished and they went through all
the interactive activities, they said, "This
is fine; this is great. No one can object to
this. This is totally nonpartisan."
It is encouraging Christians and others
anyone that will sit still long enough for
us to give them a registration form or to encourage
them to download a registration form for their
state, we're going to help them get registered
to vote. We're going to give them information
where they can go in nonpartisan venues to
get information about where the candidates
stand on the issues. We will do what we've
done for the past several presidential election
cycles. We will be printing up platform comparisons
of the two major parties, letting them, in
their own words, describe where they stand
on a whole host of issues somewhere
between 30 and 40 issues where the parties
have laid out the platform and the planks in
the platform upon which they are campaigning.
So we're not even describing what the two-party
platform positions are; we're letting the platforms
speak for themselves. Those have been very
popular. We will be printing a significant
number this year and we're encouraging folks
to order them from iVoteValues.com or FaithandFamily.com.
We also, on our iVoteValues.com Web site, have
a list of the legal do's and don'ts. Every
Southern Baptist church is autonomous. There
is no vertical structure in Southern Baptist
life. Sometimes there's not even any horizontal
structure in Southern Baptist life. (Laughter.)
The reason it is called a convention and not
a church or a denomination it's not
called the Roman Catholic Church; it's called
the Southern Baptist Convention is because
it's a convention of churches. It is a voluntary
association of churches. Each church owns its
own property; each church calls its own pastor;
each church decides for itself how much, if
any, it is going to contribute to the Cooperative
Giving program of the Southern Baptist Convention,
and all I can do is seek to serve and suggest
things to churches. I can't tell any Southern
Baptist church to do anything.
And so Southern Baptist churches are free to
do what they wish to do, and they remind me
of this on a regular basis, but what we have
done is we have tried to construct a Web site
of do's and don'ts and, with our legal counsel,
we're making it very clear to the churches,
in seeking to serve all Southern Baptist churches.
To use a football analogy, which I know will
be painful to some, we encourage them to stay
not just in the sidelines, but to stay within
the hash marks. Now, if individual Southern
Baptist churches want to take off and run as
close to the sideline as they can, that's up
to them and their general counsel and their
legal advisors. We're going to stay inside
the hash marks.
And staying inside the hash marks, preachers
can preach on moral and social issues and they
can encourage civic involvement. Can they endorse
candidates on behalf of the church? No. Can
they engage in voter registration activities
that avoid promoting any one candidate or political
party? Yes. Can they distribute educational
materials to voters such as voter guides, but
only those that do not favor a particular candidate
or party and that cover a wide range of issues?
Yes. Can they permit the distribution of material
on church premises that favors one candidate
or political party? No. Can they conduct candidate
or issue forums where each duly qualified candidate
is invited this is where I think there
has been some concern about some of the activities
of some churches and provide an equal
opportunity to address the congregation? Yes.
Use church funds to pay fees for political
events? No. Allow candidates to solicit funds
while speaking in a church? No. Sermons on
moral and social issues? Yes. Endorsing or
opposing political candidates? No. Educate
on political process and political social legislative
issues? Yes. Encourage members to voice their
opinions in favor of or in opposition to certain
legislation? Yes, as long as that's not a primary
activity in terms of your overall ministry.
Campaign for candidates? No. Discuss biblical
instruction pertaining to moral and cultural
issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage?
Yes. That's part of the free exercise of religious
faith and we certainly can do that.
And then the congregants have to decide for themselves.
We believe everyone ought to vote their values,
ought to vote their beliefs, ought to vote
their convictions, and we have to leave it
to each individual person and their own conscience
to decide their convictions, and to determine
which convictions are going to take precedence
in a hierarchy of values if they're forced
to choose, for instance, between two competing
values. Nothing is ever perfect in an imperfect
world, and so you may have a candidate that
agrees with you on one issue but disagrees
with you on another issue, and then each person
has to decide for themselves what that hierarchy
of values is.
I can't leave without really opening up a can
of worms, so let me just do that. There is
an impression that President George W. Bush
has brought an unprecedented amount of "God
talk" to American presidential politics
and to the American presidency. That is factually,
demonstrably untrue. And anyone who wants to
challenge that statement could just go to Paul
Kengor's National Review article online, or
in a more permanent form, his book, God and
George W. Bush. Dr. Kengor, who is a professor
at Grove City College and is an historian,
has done his homework. During the Clinton presidency,
Bill Clinton mentioned Jesus, Jesus Christ,
or Christ in official presidential speeches
41 times. George Bush has done so 19. In fact,
he documents that in one week, the one week
prior to the 2000 election just one
week the sitting president, Bill Clinton,
the sitting vice president, Al Gore, and the
sitting first lady, Hillary Clinton, managed
to speak in more churches than George W. Bush
has attended or been to speak at in his entire
It seems to me that there sometimes is a little
bit of a double standard, that it's okay when
Bill Clinton uses the Sermon on the Mount in
a public address to say that it's a Christian
duty to work for a certain piece of legislation,
but when George W. Bush says that we are here
to do God's will on earth, which is what Bill
Clinton also said and it's also what
John Kennedy said in his inaugural address
that raises heckles. It may be that
it's not the religious language or the invocation
of religion that is so objectionable; it's
what George W. Bush is doing with it, how he's
applying it, and if that's the case then you
ought to disagree with application and not
say that it's some unprecedented challenge
to separation of church and state.
MR. LUGO: Thank you, Richard.
All right. Thank you for those presentations
quite a bit to think about and discuss.
Bob, perhaps I should allow you to respond
to Richard and straighten him out in this First
Amendment stuff. Do these IRS regulations have
something to do or nothing to do with the First
MR. TUTTLE: I'm not a Southern Baptist, I'm a
Lutheran, and we take pride in speaking in
ways that are self-contradictory. (Laughter.)
It's worked for hundreds of years; why not
continue? But this time I think there is a
difference. When I started out I said that
the rule as written does not implicate the
First Amendment because the rule as written
applies the limitation to all 501(c)(3)s; it
doesn't single out religious organizations.
If the bill before the House simply removed
that restriction, then it wouldn't implicate
First Amendment concerns, particularly Establishment
Clause concerns. The only reason that it may
raise and I don't know how much it does;
it's a tough call Establishment Clause
concerns is because it singles out religious
organizations from all 501(c)(3)s for special
treatment in this respect. So that's the distinction.
MR. LAND: I appreciate that clarification, and
I would have no problem with removing the restriction
on all 501(c)(3)s. I think the reason that
the Jones bill just deals with churches is
the budget hawks in the Congress were saying,
if you do that it will increase the deficit
MR. TUTTLE: But that's always a test we're
figuring out whether something may violate
the Establishment Clause. If you can't fund
neutrally and you single out religious
MR. LAND: And then the question becomes whether
or not giving a tax deduction is funding, and
that's, I think, a question that hasn't been
it's a benefit; it's not direct funding.
It's not even indirect funding. It's just giving
people the minority of people who itemize
and we sometimes forget the fact that
70 percent of Americans don't itemize. Only
about 30 percent of American households itemize
MR. TUTTLE: I think that's true, but the court,
in Texas Monthly v. Bullock back in the 1980s,
seemed pretty clear that tax privileging of
religious organizations could constitute a
benefit in violation of the Establishment Clause,
so it's at least within the realm of possibility.
MR. LAND: Well, with the Supreme Court anything
is within the realm of possibility.
MR. LUGO: Thank you. Just to touch on something
else in this Jones bill here Ron, I
think I heard you correctly here, and as I
hear you talk about the concerns of African-American
churches, with the IRS breathing down their
necks, I hear some of the same concerns among
white evangelical churches. So had there been
an attempt to be bipartisan on the Jones bill
and a reaching out to the Congressional Black
Caucus early on to fashion a legislation that
would grant more protection to churches in
their political speech, did I understand you
correctly that, at least in principle, the
Congressional Black Caucus would have been
MR. WALTERS: Yes, I think in principle. Actually,
I first found out about this bill in one of
these forums with black ministers; they raised
it. And one of the people who was close to
it is the Reverend Anthony Muse, who is a Democrat
in Prince George's County, a pastor of a 3,000-member
church and a former candidate for office. As
a matter of fact I think he served at one point
in the legislature.
So, yeah, I think that it might have been. But
let me just be clear: I don't think for a minute
that this bill has an economic motive. I think
it has a strict political motive. And I think
that this whole question of looking at the
tax status of churches really is something
that has a chilling effect. Now, we talked
about Southern evangelicals in this sense.
Bipartisanship, to me or at least fairness,
to me would have been the IRS actually
interrogating some of these organizations.
But I have not yet seen the newspaper articles
that would suggest that either the Justice
Department or the IRS has gone after them with
the same vigor. Maybe they have and I just
don't know it.
MR. LAND: Well, that would be real news to Ralph
Reed, who had a huge lawsuit against him with
the Christian Coalition, and they finally won
but it built swimming pools for a lot of lawyers
in the process. And I can tell you that evangelical
churches feel that they have been harassed
by the IRS, and they complain that they get
harassed in ways that African-American churches
don't, and then African-American churches seem
to be complaining that they get harassed in
ways that white evangelicals don't. Perhaps
they need to get together and compare notes
and figure out who the common enemy is: government
regulation and intimidation through the IRS.
And I think that
MR. LUGO: But if that was the case, Richard,
then why I mean, it does raise the question
why was there not a reaching out to
the Congressional Black Caucus and others?
Or maybe there was. I know you were intimately
involved in the Jones legislation. It seems
to me that if you put the white evangelical
and the black Protestant coalition together
you could punch that baby into the end zone.
MR. LAND: Well, first of all, Luis, I was not
intimately involved in those negotiations.
That's not really my role. My role is to advise
Southern Baptists about whether this is something
they ought to look at and give them information
on how to look at it.
We do support the Jones legislation, but looking
at it as an outsider, it seems to me that there
is an increasing disconnect between the Congressional
Black Caucus and an increasing number of African-American
churches and pastors. There was much more receptivity
to the Jones legislation among African-American
pastors, and much more receptivity to the faith-based
initiative, than there was from the Congressional
MR. LUGO: You're into opening cans of worms this
morning. That's the second one. Ron, you really
should respond to that.
MR. WALTERS: Well, I was just going to say I
wouldn't put Ralph Reed's problems in the same
category as some of the black churches because
he has quite a different posture there, and
of course they have continued, as I understand
But I just think that, yes, there would have
been, I think, some support for this from the
black churches if it had been cast a little
bit differently. But I don't think we can ignore
the political effects of all of this. I think
if we do you know, one of the things
we have become good at recently is the artful
coloring of all of this stuff, which has a
political motive. And I think when you get
down to brass tacks, the faith-based philosophy
was a philosophy which appeared good on its
face, which was a carryover from the conservative
public policies all the way back to Ronald
Reagan, that attempted to try to shift social
spending onto the churches. The churches have
said, look, we can't do this. There is still
an attempt to try to do it. But the real motive
underneath this really is to spin off a very
important segment of the Democratic Party's
constituency and win elections, and I don't
think it goes much further than that.
MR. LUGO: Thank you.
Well, let's turn to the audience. First, as is
our regular custom, if there are any members
of the press we want to let you have the first
crack at this.
DENNIS CROWLEY: I got your press packet here
and in it there's a report talking about religious
landscape by partnership. It says Latino Catholics
and black Protestants are overwhelmingly Democrat
71 percent of black Protestants are
Democratic, and 61 percent of Latino Catholics.
Only 11 percent of black Protestants are Republican,
and 15 percent of Latino Catholics. In putting
together this survey, did anybody come up with
any idea about the disparity here why
people lean so much to the Democratic Party?
MR. LUGO: Well, let's put the question to Ron.
In fact, let me just add, also coming out of
our survey, that on many of the social issues,
from abortion to gay marriage, which have driven
white evangelicals to the Republican Party,
the African-American church particularly
on the gay marriage issue, less so on the abortion
question seems to line up pretty closely
with white evangelicals. So the question then
becomes, why has there not been a similar drift
on these values questions into the Republican
MR. WALTERS: Yeah, obviously on that last issue,
as a matter of fact it may be even stronger
than some of the evangelical churches. I just
think it's a very simple issue of similar socioeconomic
circumstances. I don't know how many of you
saw the op-ed piece in the Post the other day
by Marc Morial president of the National
Urban League calling for a presidential
debate on urban issues. When you look and listen
to the rhetoric in this campaign season, one
of the things that people are not talking about
are those issues. I had the occasion to remind
one of the ministerial groups that I talked
to that their voice on issues of poverty and
social need homelessness, housing, things
like that is uniquely silent. They have
also been politicized in this process, and
as a result of it, they're not speaking to
a lot of these issues.
But there is a no mystery as to why the blacks
and Hispanic vote is like this, because historically
Democrats have paid more attention to these
MR. LUGO: Thank you. If you could please identify
yourself I forgot to mention that. Yes?
The 40-yard line there I mean, the fourth
MIKE MIYAZAWA: My name is Mike Miyazawa. I have
two short questions for Mr. Tuttle and Mr.
Mr. Tuttle, can 501(c)(3) organizations make
contributions to 527s without losing tax-exempt
status? And, Mr. Land, what is your response
to the remark by General Boykins, "My
God is better than his," and to the fact
that he has not been disciplined in any way?
MR. LUGO: Okay, Bob, how do 527s fit into this
mix and what do churches and their political
contributions have to do with them, if anything?
MR. TUTTLE: A 501(c)(3) organization cannot make
a contribution to a 527 or make any other expenditure
for partisan political purposes. So the answer
is simply no.
MR. LUGO: So no matter what the vehicle, whether
it's political parties or 527s, you can't do
Richard, on General Boykins?
MR. LAND: Well, I wouldn't say what he said the
way he said it, but this is a free country
and you do have First Amendment freedoms, and
those extend to all citizens. And I'm assuming
as a general officer he serves at the pleasure
of the general of the Army and the chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I would assume
that they decided that he was still a valuable
officer and was to be retained. I don't know
what conversations took place in private.
MR. LUGO: Richard, more broadly, since this raises
the whole question of the Bush administration
and Islam, I have heard public comments from
white evangelical leaders who have, in fact,
criticized the president for perhaps being
too soft, talking about Islam as a religion
of peace and so forth. Is this not an area
of potential divergence between this president
and at least substantial elements of the evangelical
MR. LAND: Well, first of all, the Kengor book
has a whole chapter on this, by the way, in
which George W. Bush has been consciously more
inclusive in his "God talk" than
any previous president, mentioning mosques
and temples in public pronouncements, and this
is even before 9/11. Since 9/11 it has increased.
I personally think that that's a good thing.
I can't speak for all evangelicals no
one can but I think it's a good thing.
I think that he's the president of all the
people and we ought to affirm the right of
people to participate in the American body
politic and public policy in this society regardless
of their religious faith or lack of religious
faith, and I think the president has done an
awfully good job of being inclusive in that
He does receive some criticism from some evangelicals
for that. He hasn't from me except on one occasion:
when he was asked the question in London about
whether Muslims and Christians worship the
same god and he said yes. And my response to
that was that I'm very grateful that he's a
man of religious faith and he brings his religious
faith to bear on public policy, but he's commander
in chief, not theologian in chief. And as an
evangelical Christian, I believe that Jews
and Christians worship the same God but that
Allah is not the father of Jesus Christ.
MR. LUGO: There's another instance in which I've
heard you criticize the administration recently,
and it pertains to this topic. It's on the
question of the use of church directories.
Ron alluded to communications to members of
churches. Could you briefly comment on that?
MR. LAND: Yeah. I'm not normally contacted by
Reuters but I was on this occasion. They called
and said, "We have in our hands a copy
of a directive from the Bush-Cheney campaign
asking volunteers to send in their church directories
to either the county headquarters or the state
headquarters. What is your response to that?"
And I said, "I'm appalled. I'm appalled
and irritated, and I think that this is a very
dangerous thing. It shouldn't be done. This
is a giant step too far." And I issued
a press release in which I said that this was
a violation of the body of the church, it was
an attempt to exploit the church, and that
if I were pastor of a church and by
the way, I have encouraged pastors to do this,
to get up in the pulpit and say that if anyone
wants to give your church directory to someone
outside the body of the church for any reason,
whether it's Amway or whether it's the Bush-Cheney
campaign, it is a violation of the body of
the church and it is a violation of the privacy
of every individual in that church directory,
and I'm asking you as your pastor not to do
Now, it's been interesting the response I've
gotten from within Southern Baptist ranks.
The response has been about 2-1 favorable to
the position I took. Interestingly enough,
to the best of my ability to discern
and of course that's sometimes difficult with
emails; it's a lot more difficult with emails
than it is with faxes or with letters
within my ability to discern, not one pastor
has disagreed with me. All of the one-third
who disagree with me have been lay people.
Not one single pastor has disagreed with me
in thinking that this is not something to distribute.
Absolutely resist it.
MR. LUGO: Yes?
ANTHONY PICARELLO: Anthony Picarello from the
Becket Fund. I wanted to direct my comments
to Dr. Tuttle.
As you may know, Dr. Tuttle, we have a Web site
dedicated to this issue, freepreach.org, and
we take different positions on the constitutional
issues. I don't want to go on at length but
I wanted to raise a couple of things very briefly.
One, I was hoping you could say a bit more
about the kind of Establishment Clause claim
that someone subject to this sort of prosecution,
if you will, could assert. In other words,
for all the reasons that singling out that
burden for deregulation might survive Establishment
Clause scrutiny; similarly you might have an
Establishment Clause claim.
Also, picking up on a comment that Dr. Walters
made, there is a chilling effect concern here,
which raises issues under the Due Process Clause
and Free Speech Clause as a matter of vagueness.
I mean, we wouldn't probably all be here if
the rules were crystal clear. The IRS has gone
so far as to provide examples about situations
that rarely exist. You know, what happens if
the pastor pats his head and rubs his tummy
at the same time that sort of thing.
But what about the concrete example where a
pastor gets up and says, for example, "We
as Quakers are so opposed to war that I as
your Quaker pastor if you will
do not believe that any Quaker in good conscience
could vote for George W. Bush." That's
the concrete particular circumstance
actual preaching from the pulpit that
the IRS has actually gone to pains to avoid
addressing in its examples and that creates
a circumstance of ambiguity that again,
getting back to Dr. Walters' comment
allows nongovernmental organizations to enhance
the chilling effect, even if the IRS has been
one hundred percent principled in its enforcement.
And again, there are debates on both sides
of that question. But this is the sort of private-sector
dimension that exploits that ambiguity.
Of course, we have differences in the free exercise
and the free speech issues, but I won't get
MR. LUGO: Thank you. That's a very helpful question.
MR. TUTTLE: Thank you, Anthony. As you know from
our previous conversations, I have great respect
for your analysis of these issues and your
work on First Amendment issues more broadly.
I agree with you that this is a mess. I mean,
I don't think anybody can read the 150-page
continuing education thing that the IRS puts
out for lawyers who have to advise on this,
where they do try to go through virtually every
example, and come to any other conclusion but
that this is a mess.
So then the problem is, what do we do about the
mess? Do we encourage sort of the ambiguity
in which, yeah, there's some fear, there's
some chilling out there, but there aren't a
lot of enforcement actions and that's really
the status quo. There's some virtue to that.
We don't have to make some tough questions
about the public FSC that we would otherwise.
Luis suggested that I not talk about this, but
I have it
MR. LUGO: Open the can of worms. Go ahead, Bob.
You go ahead and do it.
MR. TUTTLE: (Chuckles.) I think there is one
simple resolution to this, and that's to eliminate
the deductibility of charitable contributions.
You treat all exempt organizations then the
same. The IRS doesn't need to monitor and the
IRS doesn't need to figure out exactly at what
point somebody has stepped over a line, a line
that is incredibly difficult to monitor. And
indeed, I think you're right; monitoring raises
the most serious entanglement questions of
any context. I mean, we're usually worried
about entanglement in the context of schools.
This is somebody monitoring the content of
religious worship. You don't get much worse
So I agree one hundred percent. The question
is the solution. Either you simply apply this
rule of exemption to all 501(c)(3) organizations,
which, as Dr. Land said, raises some questions
about the ability of the government to pay
for that, or you do the one thing that does
save the government a good chunk of money
you simply eliminate deductibility of charitable
contributions. I think that is not a particularly
attractive option, but I think it's the only
one that allows us to avoid making these tough
MR. LAND: I'll make a prediction: in your lifetime
and mine that'll never happen. (Laugher.)
One thing that hasn't been mentioned, and I think
it is a mess and I think it does need clarification,
and that is that there are nongovernmental
groups that do try to use the IRS as a boogeyman
to scare churches, because if you stop and
think about it, there haven't been very many
cases where the IRS what is it, two?
MR. TUTTLE: Just two or three.
MR. LAND: Two or three where the IRS has actually
gone after a church, and one of them just sort
of double-dog-dared them, asked for it, begged
for it, painted a target on their chest and
said, please shoot us. I mean, you're sort
of asking for it when you run a full-page ad
in the paper the Sunday before the election
saying, "It is a sin to vote for Bill
Clinton." (Laughter.) I mean, that's sort
of asking for it, you know.
MR. TUTTLE: Does it say "Paid for by donations
to the church"?
MR. LAND: Yeah, right. And they only lost their
letter for one year for doing that. So I think
there are organizations that have a vested
interest in trying to suppress what they perceive
as political activity they don't like from
certain segments of the population. Brother
Walters has talked about some attempts to suppress
African-American churches. I mean, I don't
think Barry Lynn is real happy about evangelical
churches doing what they do, and I think Barry
Lynn has done his best to try to scare evangelical
pastors and evangelical churches and try to
suppress their activity if not their vote.
But one alarming I guess semi-alarming
thing that has happened out in the Midwest
is that in Kansas, there's a group that has
both a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4), and as part
of the 501(c)(3) it is sending spies out to
evangelical churches to go and listen to the
sermons and see if they're somehow violating
the IRS tax code. Of course, my own personal
feeling is that for whatever reason they go
to an evangelical church, I'm grateful they're
going. They may get more than they bargained
MR. LUGO: Thank you.
The lady in the back.
TAMMY JONES: I'm Tammy Jones from the American
Association of Christian Schools. You just
answered one of my questions about whether
any church has ever lost its tax-exempt status.
My other question is for Dr. Walters. Could you
comment on what Dr. Land just said about suppressing
political activity? You mentioned that Republicans
are actively suppressing black voters, and
then you mentioned that the Democrats are going
to be disappointed in their use of 527s to
obtain the black vote. How is that? Or would
you comment then on what your cure is for that?
And then, how is that different from what Dr.
Lynn, as Dr. Land just told us, is doing to
the evangelical church?
MR. WALTERS: Well, Dr. Lynn is a thorn in everybody's
MR. LAND: I agree. That's Lynn L-Y-N-N
MR. LUGO: Not Land, okay. (Laughter.)
MR. WALTERS: No, he gives equal pain to everyone.
But Barry Lynn is not the attorney general
of the United States. Now let me make that
clear. So there's a different order, I think,
of concern and scrutiny here.
Now, we've thrown this around but I think it's
true. The situation is a mess. It's not only
a mess with respect to the IRS laws governing
the activity of churches; it's also a mess
with respect to how you fix this. You can't
I sat through and by full disclosure,
I'm a co-chair of a 527 and I'm on the board
of a 501(c)(3) organization, and all of them
are involved in getting the vote out. So we
have tried to parse through this year with
all sorts of lawsuits and FEC hearings and
investigations, and legal challenges by Republicans
to McCain-Feingold, and it is a swamp, but
at this point no one knows what to do except
to go through this election cycle pretty much
as we have before, with the hope that maybe
something would be done. There has been a recent
decision of the courts on this. I think that'll
be appealed till the cows come home and nothing
will happen in this election cycle. But I don't
have a cure for it, to tell you the truth.
Now, the point I was raising about the 527s and
what they are doing is a very real one because
what they are doing is usurping the role that
African-American churches the community
has played in this era. Now, for us,
the result is that if organizations like America
Coming Together, which is run by Steve Rosenthal,
the former political director at the AFL-CIO,
or the Media Fund, which has raised $43 million,
and it's run by Ickes, even though he's a former
Clinton person if these people are able
to usurp the role of our infrastructure and
political participation, it means it diminishes
our political participation, our political
power, our voice in the political system.
Those are the stakes. Now, how you fix that I
don't know, because there's a lot of money
here, there's a lot of passion here, and at
least on the left people want to defeat George
Bush at all costs, so they feel there's a lot
at stake. They can't trust the black organizations
to do these things, and so forth and on and
on and on. So in this atmosphere I really don't
have and no one else has really come
up with a good answer for you.
MR. LUGO: If I could follow up on that and then
I'll let Bob Tuttle get in on it.
You had made the comment in your remarks
and again you come back to it that this
is more politicized in 2004 than you've ever
seen it. At the same time you just make the
point again that black churches are less connected
than before because of the 527s. I assume you're
not dealing here with some Lutheran ambiguity
like Tuttle, so sort out those two statements
for me. They seem on the surface to be contradictory.
MR. WALTERS: Yeah, they're really not. In my
initial remarks I tried to link one to the
other. One of the reasons why they are not
as active is because they have been politicized.
MR. LUGO: Aha. Okay. Could you repeat that?
MR. WALTERS: One of the reasons why they are
not as active is because they have been politicized
and they have been supplanted.
QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE: They're not as active
because they've been politicized?
MR. WALTERS: Yeah.
QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE: Politicized in terms
of being marginalized?
MR. WALTERS: Well, both. We've been just talking
about this chilling effect of the investigations
that have occurred that have impacted a religious
community. As a matter of fact, one of the
things they did was they called me and they
said, "Do you have any advice for us on
how we can be involved in the electoral season
with all of these laws and things going on?"
I sent them this guide. It has been a very
helpful guide to black churches because a lot
of them are confused now about things changing.
So there is this chilling effect that I talked
about. It has made some reticent to jump into
the political season. Some have established
ties through the faith-based programs to the
Bush administration. They are wary now about
following up on those ties and becoming involved
in the black community so that there is this
dynamic out there, which is a political dynamic,
on the right. On the left there is a dynamic
of supplantation. And so both of these together,
I think, in some respects have made the black
church less active than before. But to me,
I use the term "politicization" to
MR. LUGO: Bob, you wanted to comment on this.
MR. TUTTLE: Yeah, just a quick qualification
of the extent to which we think it's a mess
now. It is not really that big of a mess, because
I think there are some safe rules that people
can follow. I mean, I'm stepping into my role
as lawyer for churches rather than sort of
law professor in this, but I don't have any
trouble giving congregations guidelines that
they can use and follow, just like Dr. Land
described about the iVoteValues.com project
where there are some safe harbors in the rule.
You can give people good, solid advice that
they can follow.
To the extent that there is a chilling effect,
it's a chilling effect because people aren't
following those rules. If you follow the rules,
people may threaten you but they can't do anything
if you're staying on the right side. So some
of what I do hear and this is not directed
at Anthony but some of what I hear when
people talk about chilling is some sense that
religious organizations should be free of these
restrictions, which is not saying that they're
being chilled; it's saying you want the rules
changed. And I think that the mess the
primary mess comes with those who don't
believe the rules should restrict.
MR. WALTERS: It's not so much a question of the
rules; it's a question of enforcement, and
it's a question of fair enforcement. When you're
enforcing the rules on one side and not enforcing
them on the other, that is the politicization
effect; that is the chilling effect.So it's
not the rule itself, it's always I think
always how they are administered and
MR. LUGO: And certainly from the perspective
of a law professor who knows more about this
than probably anybody at the IRS, you'd probably
respond differently to the threat than a black
pastor or a white pastor confronted with the
same situation. It may just scare them enough
to say, you know, I don't want to go even to
the safe areas. So it may be an interesting
difference of perspective there.
We have time for one final question, in the front
here, the fellow from Scripps Howard. Identify
CHRIS OTTS: Hi, I'm Chris Otts from Scripps Howard,
the newswire. This is for Mr. Walters and Mr.
I'm curious as to which direction politically
the members of the two congregations that you
represent are moving. Mr. Land, I wanted to
know if the efforts by the Bush-Cheney campaign
are having an effect by making a big voting
block for them among Southern Baptists, or
was that already there?
And, Mr. Walters, I wanted to know which 527s
are trying to sway the communities that you
represent, and which way are they swaying them?
MR. LAND: First of all, you asked me two different
questions. One is which way the group is going,
and then if the efforts of the Bush-Cheney
campaign are impacting that. I personally don't
think that the efforts of the Bush-Cheney campaign
are having much impact at all. I have said
for a long time that the only person who can
deliver evangelical voters in general, and
certainly white evangelical voters and Southern
Baptist voters, is the candidate himself. And
this candidate has done a very good job over
the last three years of motivating Southern
Baptists and other evangelicals. The exit polling
from the 2000 election that was done by ABC
News and USA Today said that four out of five
80 percent of those who identified
themselves as Southern Baptists when they were
exit polled voted for George W. Bush against
a Southern Baptist, Al Gore. And the reason
for nine out of 10 of those votes was the abortion
issue. I have absolutely no question that that's
the case, having lived through that transformation.
If you look at when it took place, it was a delayed
impact from Roe. In 1976, Jimmy Carter got
two-thirds of white Baptist votes. In 1980
he got one third, and they've never come back.
They did marginally with Clinton, but that's
the only time they've even marginally come
back and that was a three-way race. I was asked
this question by a Washington reporter, and
I'm going to tell you, I'd never thought about
it this way but I think the answer is true.
He said to me, "What would happen if you
went back to pre-Roe, if you went back to the
situation as it was on January the 21st, 1973,
where there were fairly restrictive laws in
most states and very liberal laws in California,
Massachusetts and New York?" And I said,
"Everything else being equal and
of course everything else isn't equal now with
the federal marriage amendment issue
but everything else being equal, Southern Baptist
votes would go from 80-20 to 50-50."
There are about 30 percent who grew up Democrat,
who voted Democrat, who still might agree with
Democrats on some economic issues, but they're
voting pro-life. And I don't think you can
overestimate the life issue in the transformation
of evangelicals and their relationship to political
parties in the last 30 years. It's just impossible.
I think that more than 80 percent will probably
vote for Bush this time and there will be more
of them because he suffered from name identification
in the 2000 election. It is true that several
million evangelicals didn't vote, and the reason
was because he had the same name as Bush '41,
who they saw as himself not being weak on the
life issue, but his administration being much
weaker on the life issue than Reagan was. And
that perception has been alleviated.
MR. LUGO: Eight out of 10 African Americans are
going to go beyond that on the Democratic side
probably nine out of 10, right, Ron?
MR. WALTERS: In the 2000 cycle there were nine
out of 10, and I don't know this time around
how many there will be. Probably the average
is 85 percent, so at least I think it'll be
MR. LAND: Do you think the vote will be up or
down the turnout?
MR. WALTERS: I think the turnout is going to
be up, but let me just explain what I mean
by turnout for a second. I think that if you
had the number of bodies that turned out in
2000 turn out in 2004, then the vote will be
up, for a couple of reasons.
In some places, people who were former felony
status persons will have the right to vote
will be notified of the right to vote.
There was a case in Ohio fairly recently where
an organization called CURE sued the secretary
of state, who happens to be somebody I know
very well, Ken Blackwell. He's a black Republican.
But they have been systematically telling former
felons in the state of Ohio that they couldn't
vote. Now, the secretary of state's office
has had to notify 34,000 ex-felons that they
have the right to vote, so that if nothing
is done in terms of increasing turnout, more
people, I think, will probably vote from that
Another thing is that if you look at some places,
some black precincts have new voting machines.
If you look at the spoiled ballots in the 2000
election, in some places half of those ballots
spoiled were African-American ballots. So again,
if there is no increase in the bodies that
turn out, the count would register an increase
in the number of African-American ballots.
HAVA, for example, this time around
the Help America Vote Act says that
if you show up and your ballot status is challenged,
you have a right to a provisional ballot. That
wasn't there last time.
Again, if there is no increase in turnout and
if people show up and say, "I have a right
to a provisional ballot; let me fill it out,"
there will be an increase. So if the same number
of bodies show up, I think the improvements
that have been made in a legislative way with
election reform will register increased turnout
in the black community.
Now, on top of that you've got groups out there
working very hard to try to get it up. My group,
for example, has not very much been in the
news in answer to your question
called Voices of Working Families. It's not
been in the news because it didn't make the
same mistake as Americans Coming Together and
say, "We're out here trying to unseat
Bush." We had very smart lawyers who said,
"Don't make that mistake," so very
few people even know about it.
I don't know how many 527s there are because
every other day somebody sets up one. P. Diddy,
for example, came into this with his own
he's got his own 527. So every other day some
churches are establishing 527s. So I don't
know how many there are, but there are some
MR. LUGO: Well, our thanks to the good Lord for
holding off the rain, to the hotel workers
for holding off on the strike, to all of you
for coming, and certainly to our speakers for
their very, very interesting presentations.
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