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In Maine, Churches' Defense of Marriage Brings On Legal
Inside the Issues with Alan Sears
Recently, I told you about the cooperation between Alliance Defense Fund lawyers and Maine pastors, legislators, and ordinary citizens that – thanks to God's grace –
helped successfully turn around efforts to fabricate same-sex "marriage" in the state. It was a tremendous victory.
Now the advocates of same-sex unions are actively encouraging their followers to report churches to the Internal Revenue Service if those churches openly supported the ballot measure defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The frivolous complaints are designed to intimidate pastors and church members and to threaten the tax-exempt status of the churches, even though IRS regulations specifically allow churches to engage in such instances without endangering their tax-exempt status. In the face of this blatant effort at retaliation, ADF is offering free legal assistance to any church facing IRS investigation."
Those demanding redefinition of marriage are intentionally threatening the tax-exempt status of churches through fear, intimidation, and disinformation to silence their voice," says ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. "ADF will stand with these churches to defend their right to free speech and religious expression against these baseless scare tactics."
Stanley heads the ADF Pulpit Initiative, a nationwide legal effort to challenge IRS regulations that restrict the free speech of pastors in their pulpits. In 2009, 83 pastors participated in the second annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an event associated with the Pulpit Initiative.
Around the U.S., more and more pastors and churches are becoming aware of government efforts – often spurred on by legal bullies like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom from Religion Foundation – to limit the preaching and ministry of the Gospel. Among the methods being used to intimidate and silence the church: selective application of land regulations and zoning restrictions, denial of equal access to public facilities, and laws compelling churches to hire or retain individuals on staff who deliberately violate Scriptural standards of behavior."
In America pastors and churches have a right to speak about biblical truths from the pulpit without fear of punishment," Stanley says. "They can encourage their congregations to take a stand for marriage and can directly support legislative issues like the one in Maine without running afoul of IRS rules.
"We encourage the churches of Maine not to be intimidated and to contact us if they are contacted by the IRS."ADF attorneys are also defending Donald Mendell, a Maine high school counselor whose professional license has been threatened because of his public support of marriage during the recent election.
Please be in prayer for Mr. Mendell and the churches of Maine, as they stand firm for the truth in the face of this growing legal persecution. Pray, too, for our ADF lawyers and our allies, as they work to defend the right of all Christians to hear and speak the truth, and to keep a legal door open for the spread of the Gospel.