This Sunday was Pulpit Freedom Sunday, and Pastors led their churches all over the country in defying an amendment to the tax code introduced by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson almost 60 years ago. Pastors preached politics from the pulpit in direct defiance of the Johnson Amendment, because they believe it is unconstitutional, and they are hoping to raise the ire of the IRS to prompt a lawsuit, or 2000.
This isn’t new. Pastors who understand the Constitutionality of their First Amendment Right to Free Speech have been defiantly doing this for years. They have preached their political endorsements from the pulpit and then sent the video to the IRS, only to be ignored. Few were slapped on the wrist with a warning letter, but none were able to elicit the reaction that would lead to the court battle that would decide this once and for all. This time, more than 1600 churches across the country participated. This will be hard for the IRS to ignore.
My pastor invited me, a political analyst, to do my job, and join him in his pulpit for some “good ol’ fashioned politickin.” I wrote about it on Townhall.com last week, and it was subsequently posted on DrudgeReport.com. My pastor, Dr. Jim Garlow, scrambled between his beloved wife’s bedside in Texas, back to California to shepherd his flock, to the hostile media who thought they would get the better of this pastor. He appeared last week alone on CNN, The Colbert Report, and numerous other national interviews to educate the public (including many in his own religion) about this massive assault on freedom, and why it matters. Interview after interview resulted in a brilliant application of the Constitution that the media simply could not challenge. Dr. Garlow walked in, humbly took the questions, laid out the truth, and ended the debate. This should thrill anyone, regardless of political affiliation, who believes in the fundamental right to free speech. That is the delicious irony of the matter that created a media appetite that they could not satiate. Apparently the issue has traction, whether or not you agree with it.
I don’t get butterflies in my stomach over much anymore, but when Pastor Garlow invited me to participate in something I am so passionate about, I was straight-up nervous. I have spoken about this topic for years on air, and this was my chance to undergird a man who has bravely stood on the front lines, despite threats and opposition that few could handle under normal circumstances, let alone as his beloved wife lay ill in another state. I prepared for what I would say in my analysis. I could not have prepared for the emails I received from those with other opinions:
“Dr. Gina: The pulpit is NOT the place for your First Amendment fight. Can’t you keep your fight on Fox News, or your radio show instead of forcing those of us who don’t want politics in the pulpit to have to endure it?”