June 10, 2004
House Republicans have introduced a bill that would make it easier for churches to support political candidates.
Rep. Bill Thomas of California, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, is sponsoring the measure, called "safe harbor for churches."
The bill would allow religious organizations a limited number of violations of the existing rules against political endorsements without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.
I have mixed emotions about this.
First, preachers should not be second class citizens when it comes to free speech.
Second, government should not be deciding how much free speech preachers can exercise.
Third, black churches have gotten away with electioneering for years with no penalties.
Fourth, do church members really need their pastor to tell them how to vote? Would they be comfortable if politicians discussed how to get to heaven?
This measure assumes people are so stupid that they are waiting for their pastor to tell them what to think.
Also, the bill offers new temptations for some churches -- left and right -- to focus more on the kingdom of this world, rather than the other one.
I'm Cal Thomas in Washington.
Watch "After Hours with Cal Thomas" on the Fox News Channel, Saturdays at 11 p.m. Eastern Time.