Politics and the Pulpit: Part Two: The IRS is Not the Law

February 24, 2014

Dear Friends,

Below is my latest column, Politics and the Pulpit: Part Two: The IRS is Not the Law, but first let me give you some other important updates.

First, if you have not signed onto my open letter to President Obama, please do so today! The letter points out the contradictions between what he said at the National Prayer Breakfast and his policies.  By signing on to the letter and encouraging others to sign it, you will draw attention to his contradictions which is important for the general public to see.  Sign on to the letter at LetterToObama.org.

Lent begins next week and I invite you to join in a Lenten Prayer for Life from March 5 – April 17.  Use the prayer in your family and prayer groups and ask you Pastor to have the congregation say the prayer after each Mass.  Find the prayer at PrayerCampaign.org.

Also, I have a surprise for you! I have taped a Rosary CD, complete with my pro-life meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary. We are finalizing the production of it right now and then will let you know how to order it. I know how devoted pro-life people are to the Rosary, and I have prayed the Rosary with so many of you in your homes, Churches, and at the abortion mills. Now, through this CD, we can pray it together every day! So please start spreading the word about this new resource! If you want us to reserve one of the very first copies for you, email us at Orders@priestsforlife.org.

Blessings,

pavonenew.jpg

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

Praise for our Work: Please accept this donation in appreciation for all of the good works that Priests for Life does.  I would also like to submit this in thanksgiving for Fr. Denis Wilde’s December 8 visit to [my parish].  He made a beautiful and inspirational weekend event for my parish.  I will always remember both his homily, and the piano concert.   As Coordinator of our Parish’s Respect Life Group, I know that he enriched our parish pro-life efforts beyond measure. – Anne

Politics and the Pulpit: Part Two: The IRS is Not the Law

by Fr. Frank Pavone

The American people are more fed up with the IRS than ever before, and want to see an investigation into the abuses that have been — and continue to be — perpetrated there.

This frequent theme of news reports these days intersects perfectly with our ongoing series regarding the position of Churches regarding politics and the pulpit. So many pastors and their congregations are under the impression that they are going to “violate the law” if they distribute a voter guide or preach about the urgent importance of voting pro-life.

Nonsense, and it’s time we start saying so. This series of columns will tell you why.

As we will see in coming weeks, what the IRS restrictions on Churches are when it comes to elections are not so clear in the law, and what is usually described as “legal restrictions” are simply attempts to interpret the law by government agencies — like the IRS — that have little or no accountability, and whose interpretations end up making things more vague than they were before, and chilling the free speech which citizens and Churches enjoy under the First Amendment.

Let’s back up and start at the beginning.

The federal laws of the United States take their origin from two founding documents. The Declaration of Independence expresses the principles at the heart and soul of our system of government. This is the document that identifies the right to life as primary and unalienable, given by God and to be secured by government. The Constitution is the “how to” document, the practical mechanism by which a system based on these principles can work. This document tells us how laws are to be made and what the respective roles of the Congress, the President, and the Courts are. All of these branches of government, and all the laws that flow from them, are to correspond with their foundation expressed in the Declaration and the Constitution.

The federal laws of the United States are organized in the Code of Laws of the United States of America (the “U.S. Code”). It has some 51 sections, called “Titles,” dealing with subjects like the President, the Congress, Commerce and Trade, and so forth. One of those sections, Title 26, is the “Internal Revenue Code” (IRC), which deals with tax issues. Note that the “IRC” is distinct from the “IRS.” The “IRC” (“Internal Revenue Code”) refers to a set of federal laws. The “IRS” (“Internal Revenue Service“) refers to a government agency, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, responsible for collecting taxes and for interpreting and enforcing the IRC. As we will see in more detail in further columns, the interpretations put forth by this agency are not law.

It is here that a lot of the battle is being fought for the freedom to speak in politics, and in particular in defense of the right to life. The battle has focused here precisely because of limitations placed on what Churches, organizations, and individuals can say and do regarding elections. And, as we will see, a major part of the battle is to eliminate the confusion regarding what those limitations are, how much weight they really carry, and whether they are in accordance with the documents and principles that are at the foundation of all American law in the first place. Moreover, as far as the Church is concerned, it is crucial to clarify how these limitations correspond, if at all, with the Church’s understanding of her own nature, mission, and ultimate loyalties.

More to come in the next column!

This column can be read and heard online.

Comments on this column? Go to Askfrfrank.com

Fr. Frank’s columns are podcast. See Priestsforlife.org/podcast

Remember to support our work at Priestsforlife.org/donate

La política y el Púlpito: Segunda parte: El IRS no es la ley

El pueblo estadounidense está más harto del IRS que nunca antes, y quiere ver una investigación sobre los abusos que han sido – y siguen siendo – perpetrados allí.

Este tema frecuente en los reportes de noticias en estos días encaja perfectamente con nuestra continua serie relacionada a la posición de las Iglesias con relación a la política y el púlpito. Muchos párrocos y sus congregaciones tienen la impresión de que van a “violar la ley” si distribuyen una guía para el votante o si predican sobre la urgente importancia de votar a favor de la vida.

Tonterías, y es hora de empezar a decirlo. Esta series de columnas les dirá por qué.

Como veremos en las próximas semanas, las restricciones del IRS a Iglesias a la hora de las elecciones no son tan claras en la ley, y lo que usualmente se describe como “restricciones legales” son simplemente intentos de interpretar la ley por agencias gubernamentales – como el IRS – que tienen poca o ninguna responsabilidad, y cuyas interpretaciones terminan haciendo las cosas más vagas de lo que antes eran, enfriando la libertad de expresión de la que ciudadanos e Iglesias disfrutan bajo la Primera Enmienda.

Vamos a retroceder y a empezar por el principio.

Las leyes federales de los Estados Unidos tienen su origen en dos documentos fundacionales. La Declaración de Independencia expresa los principios en el corazón y el alma de nuestro sistema de gobierno. Este es el documento que identifica el derecho a la vida como primario e inalienable, dado por Dios y para ser protegido por el gobierno. La Constitución es el documento del “cómo,” el mecanismo práctico por el cual un sistema basado en estos principios puede funcionar. Este documento nos dice cómo se deben hacer las leyes y cuáles son las funciones respectivas del Congreso, del Presidente, y de los Tribunales. Todas estas ramas del gobierno, y todas las leyes que se derivan de ellas, son para que correspondan con su fundamento expresado en la Declaración y en la Constitución.

Las leyes federales de los Estados Unidos están organizadas en el Código de Leyes de los Estados Unidos de América (el “Código de los EE.UU.”). Tiene unas 51 secciones, llamadas “Títulos,” que tratan temas como el Presidente, el Congreso, Comercio e Intercambio, y así sucesivamente. Una de esas secciones, el Título 26, es el “Código de Rentas Internas” (IRC), que trata de asuntos fiscales. Tenga en cuenta que el “IRC” es distinto del “IRS.” El “IRC” (“Código de Rentas Internas”) se refiere a un conjunto de leyes federales. El “IRS” (“Internal Revenue Service”) se refiere a una agencia del gobierno, una agencia del Departamento del Tesoro, responsable de la recaudación de impuestos y de la interpretación y aplicación de la IRC. Como veremos con más detalle en otras columnas, las interpretaciones presentadas por esta agencia no son ley.

Es aquí donde se está librando gran parte de la batalla por la libertad de hablar en la política, y en particular en la defensa del derecho a la vida. La batalla se ha centrado aquí, precisamente, debido a las limitaciones impuestas sobre lo que las Iglesias, organizaciones e individuos pueden decir y hacer con respecto a las elecciones. Y, como veremos, la mayor parte de la batalla es eliminar la confusión relacionada con lo que esas limitaciones son, cuánto peso realmente tienen, y si en primer lugar están de acuerdo con los documentos y principios que son la base de toda ley Americana. Más aun, en lo que se refiere a la Iglesia, es crucial aclarar cómo estas limitaciones corresponden, de ser el caso, con el entendimiento de la Iglesia de su propia naturaleza, misión y lealtades finales.

¡Más por venir en la próxima columna!

Esta columna se puede encontrar en la página de http://www.priestsforlife.org/columns/document-sp.aspx?id=4896

Upcoming Special Media Appearances

See our full media schedule at our website.

On March 5, 2014, Bryan Kemper will be on “What Next God?” with Christine Watkins from 2:55- 3:50 PM (EST). Listening Area Nationwide. Http://radiomaria.us

Fr. Denis Wilde, O.S.A. will celebrate the EWTN live televised Mass on March 11, 12, 13.  The Mass airs live at 8 am and repeats at 12 noon, 7 pm and 12 midnight (all times Eastern).  Repeat airing times are subject to change.  See the airing schedule on the EWTN website for final repeat airing times

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314
Phone: 888-PFL-3448
718-980-4400
Fax: 718-980-6515
Email: mail@priestsforlife.org
www.priestsforlife.org

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