Dispatches from the Creation Wars

David Barton: Con Law Expert?

It’s bad enough when someone describes fraud David Barton as a historian. He writes about history, almost all of it dishonest, but historians cringe at the mention of his name. And he has no credentials whatsoever. But now the American Family Association wants you to believe he’s a “constitutional expert” too.

A Christian constitutional expert thinks the Internal Revenue Service’s lack of response to a recent initiative shows there is no longer any reason for pastors to be silent on political issues when standing behind the pulpit.

And they tell this whopper of a lie:

Current law prohibits pastors from speaking on politics or endorsing a political candidate, but David Barton of WallBuilders says the IRS’s intimidation of removing a church’s tax exemption status is unconstitutional. Even though some pastors have intentionally crossed the line, Barton does not think the IRS wants to take them to court because it may lose.

No, current law does not prohibit pastors from “speaking on politics.” Pastors speak about politics every single day. It doesn’t even prohibit them from speaking about politics from the pulpit on Sunday morning, which pastors do every week. They rail about abortion, gay rights and whatever else they feel like ranting about — and no one tries to stop them.

What the law does prevent them from doing is actually endorsing candidates, as it does for every other one of the same type of non-profit organization, whether religious or not. The organization I work for, the American Independent News Network, can’t endorse candidates either. Neither can the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the ACLU or millions of others non-profits.

Now, I actually agree with the ADF and Barton that the law should not prevent churches — or other non-profits — from endorsing candidates. But that is what the law says currently. And there’s no point in lying about it and claiming that this means churches can’t speak out on political issues, something they do a few million times a day every day.