Remember that whole “separation of church and state”? According to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, that’s so 2000 and late.
As David Saleh Rauf of the San Antonio Express-News reports, get ready for more activist churches moving to swing politics in their favor…
AUSTIN — A recent court ruling that cleared the way for super PACs to influence state and local races in Texas also allows churches to coordinate efforts in recall elections without running afoul of campaign finance laws, according to a federal appeals panel.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion issued last week, clarified that churches, designated as nonprofit corporations, are not only permitted to partake in campaigns to recall sitting politicians but can also form a super PAC to band together in those endeavours.
Three churches sued the Texas Ethics Commission last year claiming that a state law prohibiting corporations from spending cash in recall elections prevented them from launching such efforts in the two cities.
The churches — a San Antonio congregation, Faith Outreach International Center, and two Houston churches, Joint Heirs Fellowship Church and the Houston First Church of God — asked the court to strike down the law.
Yes, you read it correctly. According to the 5th Circuit, church congregations have the right to spread any political message they want, raise money to defeat, promote or recall candidates of their choice, and still keep their non-profit tax-exempt status. Basically, you can do whatever you want, as long as you’re recognized as a church!! The US Pastor Council, the main group responsible for defeating the Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance with sinister tv ads, wasted no time taking another victory lap after hearing this new.
If your city has a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance on the books, it’s about to be in danger. Get ready for recall petitions, “hate slate” candidates and a slew of lawsuits to come your way.
Regardless of one’s religious affiliation, this ruling should serve as an insult to the free country that Americans hold so dear. If we give churches Carte Blanche to do whatever they want in politics, how long is it going to be before they start infringing upon the Constitutional rights of all citizens to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Ironic how the right-wing media always tries to stoke fear and falsehoods about Shariah Law… the broad-based moral code followed in Muslim communities, but taken far out of context by a few extremist groups. The recent movement to “ban all foreign and religious law” across several states is based on Islamophobic stereotypes.
Yet with this ruling, the 5th Circuit has laid a golden path for activist churches and Christian extremists to do whatever they want in America’s political system. So if we’re going to worry about “religious laws taking over the country”, maybe we should start with efforts being done out in the open, and aided by our court system.