The Washington Times - May 14, 2009, 01:45PM

It’s a victory for religious conservatives, pastors and churches who, like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., because of their faith are inspired toward civic responsibility.

As reported by The Washington Times Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that pastors and ministers won’t risk losing their tax-exempt status for getting involved in political activities that support their beliefs. For most of us it’s obvious that there is no conflict of interest, no hypocrisy in doing so. Yet what is hypocritical is the group (Texas Freedom Network) that brought suit against the non-profit Niemoller Foundation for sponsoring get out the vote efforts and supporting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s reelection campaign. Vocal in their opposition of Perry’s “Pastors’ Policy Briefings,” it remains silent in going after liberal churches and pastors who’ve done that and more by openly endorsing candidates. The biggest offenders, sad to say, are many of the black churches. And this past presidential election was the most glaring case in point.

The IRS clearly states, in writing now, that while they are free to engage in political activities, churches still cannot outright endorse a candidate or use significant sums of their non-profit cash to lobby for legislation. That is the other part of the so-called “separation” of church and state argument we don’t often hear about. The state can’t sanction a religion, prohibit its citizens from exercising theirs, and religious groups who get a pass on paying taxes, can’t advocate for candidates. That is the crux of the First Amendment (which by the way says nothing about a “separation.”)

When bringing its argument to the IRS, the liberal group may have thought it had a sympathetic ear with a new president who leans their way, but President Obama could have more to lose by encouraging that route.

It is ironic though that the only time we only see or hear about these so-called civil libertarians is when they’re suing conservatives. One could also question, why more conservatives aren’t suing the liberal groups and churches who openly endorse candidates (but that’s another column)? Yet, explaining their disappointment over the outcome, The Washington Times’ Ralph Hallow writes:

“Liberal groups cautioned against interpreting the decision as a political carte blanche for churches and clergy on the right.” 

Just on the right? What about the left? Civil liberties are civil liberties. Aren’t these activists supposed to be advocating for all civil liberties? Doesn’t their so-called “separation” cut both ways? So, what they’re saying is that it is okay for churches on the left to have political carte blanche, but the right be damned (forgive my poorly written yet crafty pun). Talk about a double standard. Does anyone recall a certain reverend named Jeremiah Wright? I think we were all pretty clear on who he endorsed and campaigned for during the election. Beyond his incendiary speeches, is the IRS going to check up on that endorsement? One can conclude that the rules are applied differently for different kinds of churches.

Also, is it just me, or does anyone else find it ironic that the Obama White House has appointed a liberal minister who’s only professional credentials (aside from being a reverend) include running Obama’s outreach to churches during his “political” campaign for president, is now heading up the White House Faith-Based Office (which is already facing scrutiny)? He (Josh DuBois) now oversees the grants that these churches, many of whom helped get Obama elected, may seek. Not to mention, it’s the first time the office is being run directly out of the West Wing. Though, it was George W. Bush who was accused of “politicizing” that very office.

It’s any wonder why the IRS let conservatives have a pass this time. Imagine the can of worms one could open up with all the double standards. And here is just one more for you: Remember, it was these same church and state civil libertarians who were screaming from the rooftops when GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee delivered a Christmas television greeting with – get this – what “appeared” to be a cross embedded in the bookcase placed “strategically” behind him. While also during the campaign, Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, proudly addressed church congregants and blatantly, without apology or fear of retribution by the lefties, handed out campaign literature to churchgoers that had him standing – where – in a pulpit! Where were the church and state folks then? IRS anyone?

While evangelicals are hailing the IRS decision as a major victory (and it is) it comes just in the nick of time. Because, come 2012, it may just save Obama’s skin by a wing and a prayer.

-Tara Wall is a senior editor for The Washington Times and editor of