This past week there were news reports of Barack Obama reelection campaign organizers urging supporters to "organize" their churches and congregations for his reelection. This is very much a breach of what the liberals always call "Separation of Church and State" - the doctrine popularized by then Senator John F. Kennedy in a 1960 speech as he ran for President.
You can bet that all the people who constantly whine and complain if a Pastor, such as Father Samuel E. Houser at St. Patrick Catholic Church in York, PA protests from the pulpit the government forcing his Church to pay for what the Diocese of Harrisburg calls "life threatening services" and "infanticide." That is violating "separation of Church and State" to the liberal left.
But open campaigning for the reelection of Barack Obama and the appointment of "Congregation Captains" is merely the continuation of normal "community organizing" as done by Obama himself in Chicago back in his Saul Alinsky days, which continue today.
More important, it is a breach not just of that theory of "the separation of Church and State" which appears nowhere in the Constitution and with which the undersigned does not agree with - but the Obama campaigners do in fact violate the IRS code which says campaigns cannot do this - a Church facility can NOT be used to actually campaign for a candidate or political party.
This is a "tale of two Churches." The one Church following the suggestion of "community organizers" like the Barack Obama of Chicago in his Saul Alinsky days and his continuation of those tactics today. The other, the law abiding conservative Christians who oppose him.
"Express advocacy" of the election of any candidate for office is, to put it simply, violating the law and should cause a Church's tax exempt status to be revoked by the IRS.
Fox TV news reported this week that Obama supporters are calling on Church going supporters of Barack Obama - including Muslims - to use their tax exempt church facilities as a campaign platform to reelect him. No wonder the liberal-left continues to beat the anti-Fox TV drum.
"Fair and balanced reporting" of the facts is such a nuisance to the liberal left. Now it is out in the open that they are looking for "Congregation Captains" to identify within Churches - including special attention to their friends at Muslim centers - the people who will vote for Barack Obama, make sure they are registered to vote, and that they do vote.
That violates BOTH the liberals' oft-expressed theory about the "Separation of Church and State" as well as the actual law.
What, if anything, are Churches, pastors and the members of the congregation allowed to do in the political process?
The answer depends in part, on who you ask, and which side of the political spectrum you are talking about.
There appears to be virtually an "anything goes" attitude for the liberal left.
From the Berrigan Brothers, the anti-war priests from the 1960's who openly used the pulpit to preach against "the evil war" and against President Richard Nixon, to Barack Obama as a community organizer working to turn out supporters in Chicago's liberal churches using the Saul Alinsky techniques, to today's efforts to reelect Barack Obama, there have been no prosecutions for violations of law, no fines, no penalties, for the liberal-left for preaching from the pulpit, for using Church's for partisan, political purposes, for their express advocacy of candidates favored by the liberal left.
All of the talk of "separation of Church and state" prohibitions against any political activity appears to be mainly aimed at the conservative side.
So what is allowed?
Here's an example of the other side - the conservative Christian side, and what IS legal to do. This is the sort of group whose every move is likely to engender loud shouts of "separation of Church and state" and demands that they be investigated, prosecuted, fined, stopped.
This is a report about one local group in a state that could be pivotal both in the primary process and a "battleground state" in the general election. This is the second part of this "Tale of Two Churches" focusing on Pennsylvania.
These are conservative Christians who very much operate correctly, within the legal boundaries, and as a counter weight to the liberals.
This is a report on such a Pennsylvania group, called Americans for Christian Traditions in our Nation (ACTION of PA), and a little-publicized gathering of like-minded Pastors they are hosting this Wednesday in York, PA, will address the question of what a Church, Pastor and congregation are actually allowed to do. This is a report about a group that respects the law.
Pastor Ken Gibson, Chairman of Action of PA's York County Chapter, gave me an exclusive statement following a recent "candidate's forum" in February, in the York-Adams County district of retiring Congressman Todd Platts.
And we have other sources within the group which have explained the LEGAL way that conservative Christians are in fact, allowed to organize and participate in this 2012 election as this group is doing.
The February breakfast forum included a "straw poll" vote by attendees. The results announced were: Presidential straw poll winner by a very large margin, Rick Santorum. State Representative Scott Perry won in the straw poll for Congress and Mike Regan won the vote for the GOP nomination for the open State Representative seat in the 92nd district.
The breakfast attendees heard from the dozen candidates for the two seats - Congress and State Representative - and then gave grades based on these presentations at our Candidates’ Forum. Then ACTION of PA announced that candidates in York and Adams County would be asked to respond to a Questionnaire, and they will post the answers at the group's website, YorkCountyAction.com.
It is important to note, that no church resources or lists were used in any way to organize ACTION of PA, which is a voluntary association of self described conservative Christians in Pennsylvania. In fact, ACTION is organized as a "political action committee" in order to be able to officially endorse candidates and even provide donations to candidates for state office.
And at no point during the breakfast meeting, and nowhere in the group's website, do they urge people to do as the Obama campaigners are doing - organize the Churches, or appoint "Congregation Captains" to oppose or favor any candidate for office.
As to how and WHY conservative Christians can be active in this year's 2012 election, Pastor Ken Gibson, as the Chairman of ACTION of PA in York County told me this:
"Those who seek our votes for public office owe us some explanation of how their belief in God shapes their views on public policy. We do not believe that citizens who step into the public square to speak about public policy must leave behind their faith when they do this or be forced to be silent."
"We are so grateful to these wonderful candidates for public office who came before us at our February 18 breakfast to publicly testify about their faith in God and their beliefs on traditional values which concern so many voters in south Central Pennsylvania and the United States. We pray God's blessing on each of these candidates as they continue their quest to represent us as our Congressman or state legislator."
"We believe very strongly that every Christian should be asking candidates about how their faith guides them on public policy questions. And we believe that every Church has a role to play in reminding citizens that they should render onto Caesar what is Caesar's, and that most certainly includes attention to the issues and candidates, and urging our congregation to participate fully as good citizens. That means they should register to vote. They should vote in all primary elections. They should ask questions of the candidates for office who want their votes. And they should be guided by an informed conscience that helps them know clearly the difference between right and wrong as they make important decisions which will shape the future of our country."
Pastor Gibson is planning a private luncheon meeting on March 8 to discuss the role of God fearing Christians in the public policy process this year, and has invited church pastors in York County to attend the lunch at his organization's expense.
"It is more important than ever before that Christian Pastor's speak clearly about the responsibility of their flock to vote for candidates who best reflect our beliefs" said Pastor Gibson.
Why, and how to do that, will be the focus at the Action of PA luncheon to be hosted by Pastor Gibson on March 8. To help the group focus on this issue they have as the confirmed luncheon speaker, Joe Watkins from Philadelphia, a nationally known political speaker and commentator on radio and TV talk shows.
And Father Samuel E. Houser of St. Patrick Catholic Church in York, PA will also give brief remarks. Father Houser has spoken out from his pulpit at the Sunday church service repeatedly since the February edict forcing the Catholic Church to provide what the Catholic Harrisburg Diocese calls "life threatening" infanticide services at Church, hospital and care service facilities which it operates.
When ACTION leaders heard of this presentation they immediately invited Father Houser to address their gathering of Pastors, an invitation which Father Houser accepted.
Father Houser's remarks were reported at my earlier posting, http://www.redstate.com/hanoverhenry/2012/02/28/the-gates-of-hell-will-not-prevail-here-come-the-angry-catholics/
The difference between the hypocrites of the liberal left who simply want to silence any opposition, versus the good Christians of ACTION of PA, couldn't be more stark. The undersigned does hope and pray that there will be more conservative Christians being more active in the political process this year 2012.
And it is perfectly legal for me to say why I hope for this: they should repudiate the most dangerous threat to our religious freedom by defeating Barack Obama, remove control of the Senate from his liberal allies, and increase the Republican majority. They should elect God fearing conservatives, and defeat the liberal left. I pray for this in the name of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. And I call on good conservative Christians to make common cause for this purpose in 2012.
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