The right wing Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is urging pastors to openly endorse political candidates, even though doing so would violate a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt churches.
ADF officials hope the endorsements would trigger investigations by the Internal Revenue Service, which ADF lawyers would then challenge in hopes of getting the newly conservative Supreme Court to throw out the ban. They claim three dozen or so pastors have already signed on.
The ADF was founded in 1994, mainly by conservative Christian spokesmen like James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Bill Bright of Campus Crusade. With a $20 million annual budget, it advocates for socially conservative causes favored by the religious and political right (truth-telling, alas, is not one of those causes).
I hope the organization is willing to escrow some of its millions to provide financial support for churches who could lose their tax-exempt status if their pastors get suckered into becoming live bait for the ADF’s challenge to the IRS.
After paying all their lawyers, though, I doubt there will be anything left over.