Unabashed church pastors put politics front and center

Dec 2, 2015

by Natasha Lindstrom

In the coming months, the Rev. Tim Throckmorton will step up to his southern Ohio pulpit and declare before hundreds of heedful churchgoers the candidate he wants to win the 2016 presidential election.

He does not care that doing so is technically illegal.

The evangelical Protestant senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville joined more than 1,600 pastors nationwide who delivered politically charged sermons last year in unapologetic defiance of federal rules prohibiting tax-exempt church leaders from endorsing or opposing politicians.

“We basically break the law, and then we mail our sermons to the IRS, since we believe it’s between pastors and God, and the government should have no restrictions on that,” said Throckmorton, 52, a fiery local celebrity who writes weekly newspaper columns, hosts Christian radio shows and puts out books and DVDs on “Godly American heritage.” He said the Internal Revenue Service has never asked him to stop.

He co-founded Awake 88 — a campaign to mobilize voters across Ohio around conservative values via a roaming Winnebago — and travels the country urging pastors to run for office and weigh in on hot-button issues.

“We need to recognize that many of the ills that befall us as a nation are because the church has been silenced,” Throckmorton said.

A diverse spread of religious leaders nationwide is wading unabashedly into the political arena at a time when Americans are shying away from organized religion in droves.

Franklin Graham, heir to his 97-year-old father’s Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in 2016 will begin a 50-state crusade dubbed the “Decision America Tour,” to get people to “honor God with their vote.” His Pennsylvania visit is not scheduled, according to the Decision America website.

Relatively nascent interfaith alliances such as the Georgia-based Faith & Freedom Coalition have pumped millions of dollars into political events leading up to the primary season, ranging from high-octane presidential campaign forums to low-key discussions among local church leaders — such as a conference on “religious freedom” that drew public officials and about two dozen pastors, including Throckmorton, to Grace Community Church in Bridgeville last month.

“We are worried that we are losing our values and our compass, so my concern is to do my part to educate people on our godly heritage and our history,” said state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth, a featured speaker at the Bridgeville event.


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13 comments on “Unabashed church pastors put politics front and center

  • @OP – The evangelical Protestant senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville joined more than 1,600 pastors nationwide who delivered politically charged sermons last year in unapologetic defiance of federal rules prohibiting tax-exempt church leaders from endorsing or opposing politicians.

    We basically break the law, and then we mail our sermons to the IRS, since we believe it’s between pastors and God, and the government should have no restrictions on that,” said Throckmorton, 52,

    Perhaps the IRS should send these deluded, illiterate, law breakers, some of their own laws!

    http://biblehub.com/matthew/22-21.htm – Matthew 22:21

    They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

    Along with a tax bill and a notice of cancellation of their tax-exempt status, due to their violation of its terms and conditions. With written sermons for evidence, it should be an open and shut case!



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  • Well said Alan!

    Franklin Graham needs to study his own religion:

    John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

    Jesus makes it clear to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this World, and that his disciples are not fighting for his release because his (Jesus’) remit does not run on Earth, but in Heaven.

    Romans 13:1 [Jesus:] “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

    Jesus makes clear that all his followers must obey earthly laws. Normally interpreted to mean that Christians should work to change laws, but not by disobeying them because all earthly authorities are established by God.

    Mathew 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.
    16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.
    17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
    18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?
    19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius,
    20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
    21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

    Jesus could not be clearer: My followers must pay taxes

    Is a preacher, disobeying Jesus’ command, righteous. Even if that were true:

    Mathew 6:1 [Jesus:] “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

    Just because you believe yourself to be morally correct does not justify publicly preaching your position – to do so is so bad you will set aside all heavenly rewards (short of actually entering Heaven?)

    Taken together these quotes strongly suggest that Franklin Graham does not understand the single most important figure in his professed religion. Jesus was a big supporter of Church/State separation.

    Peace.



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  • As far as I am aware it is also in the Quoran and it specifies how much tax a wealthy person should pay.
    I would be grateful if anyone could enlighten us any futher. I think it was to do with the wealthy paying taxes to help the poor. I’m sure Jesus would have been in favour of that!
    Perhaps a good subject for a Mo and Jesus cartoon.



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  • JimJFox
    Dec 2, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    So He’s a registered candidate?? Even a non-existent entity could hardly do worse than any recent political office- bearer!

    It is perhaps an interesting feature of “faith-thinking, that as he thinks that anyone whose god-delusion disagrees with laws, should simply ignore them.
    I have to wonder why he would seek election to a position where drafting legislation is the prime function, if laws are to be ignored with impunity, by those who don’t like them?
    Similarly, trying to use a Bible as a modern law book would be farcical – even before we look at the conflicts with the Constitution, oaths of office, and federal law!

    Perhaps thinking is not one of his, or his god-delusion’s strong points!



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  • I suspect the reason they get away with mailing the sermons to the IRS with no resulting prosecution, is that the political heat this action would generate in the United Theocracy of America would not be worth the effort to pull the nose of the most extreme fundamentalists. It is exactly what the extremists want. Another Kim Davis.

    Maybe in 50 years time, when America has caught up with where the rest of the world is today in relation to the position of religion in the town square, they would be prosecuted.



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  • It’s really very simple. All they need to do is give up their tax-exempt status and they can endorse any candidates or political party they want to. However, they are never willing to walk away from those sweet, sweet tax exemptions. And why would they, since the law is never enforced? Perhaps there have been warning letters from the IRS, but IRS records indicate that only one church has actually lost its tax-exempt status – for running a full-page ad in USA Today in 1992 stating that voting for Bill Clinton would be a sin. I can find no evidence that any church has ever lost its tax-exempt status for endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit.



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  • Any attempt to remove religious organizations from the tax exempt status would be met with defeat since the US Supreme Court has 7 out of the 9 justices are Roman Catholics.



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  • OP:

    “What we are watching is the decline of Protestant privilege in this country,” said Bill Leonard, a professor of church history at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity in North Carolina.

    Shucks , Bill, ain’t that a shame ? These here no good commie noners is goin’ to tell us that Noah didn’t build that Ark next !



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  • 12
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Depressing. Shows that in the US, there’s a huge difference betwen what’s in the text of the Law in the Constitution and which constitutional laws are actually enforced.

    @Alan4discussion

    Dec 2, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Perhaps the IRS should send these deluded, illiterate, law breakers, some of their own laws!

    The IRS? Hah! The IRS is a useless, corrupt government agency. This is the same IRS who caved in to the mass-lawsuit scheme blackmail of the Church of Scientology and granted them official church status back in 1993 (Re: HBO Documentary “Going Clear” by Alex Gibney)



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  • While the IRS needs to get a grip on pastors blatantly indulging in illegality, it seems that some Vatican illegality might be mitigated – or it could just be exposed!

    Who knows? – some of the tucked away money MIGHT find its way to the poor!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35018430
    The Vatican has ordered the first ever external audit of its accounts as part of Pope Francis’ efforts to reform the Roman Catholic Church.

    The auditor, accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, will start work immediately, a papal spokesman said.

    Pope Francis has promised to make the Vatican’s finances more transparent after a series of scandals.

    Last year he created a new ministry to oversee papal finances, headed by Cardinal George Pell.

    Cardinal Pell later said he had discovered millions of euros “tucked away”.

    While he did not say any wrongdoing had occurred, he added Vatican departments long had “an almost free hand” with their finances.

    Author Gianluigi Nuzzi obtained secret recordings of Pope Francis this year suggesting the Pontiff had grown exasperated at vested interests in the Vatican.

    “If we don’t know how to look after money, which you can see, how can we look after the souls of the faithful, which you can’t see?” he told clerics in 2013, the recordings said.



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