Former Arkansas Gov. -- and one-time Southern Baptist preacher -- Mike Huckabee says it may be time for churches to give up their tax-exempt status. That way, he says, they'd be free of the accompanying restrictions on political speech.
Huckabee's remarks, reported by Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press, came this week during a pastors' conference on the eve of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Houston.
"You may not clap real loud for this, but at least hear me out and think about it and pray about it," the Fox News pundit and ex-GOP presidential candidate told the Southern Baptist pastors. "I think we need to recognize that it may be time to quit worrying so much about the tax code and start thinking more about the truth of the living God. And if that means we give up tax-exempt status and tax deductions for charitable contributions, I choose freedom more than I choose a deduction that the government gives me permission to say what God wants me to say."
Churches that want to keep their tax-exempt status can't openly endorse candidates and have to be careful how political their pastors get in the pulpit.
Huckabee said recent reports that the IRS had targeted certain conservative groups should also cause churches to be concerned about religious freedom in the United States.
Some of Huckabee's toughest comments during his speech were directed at those in the Republican Party want to re-brand the GOP and appeal more to young people by down-playing social issues important to conservative Christians.
"Of late, the Republican Party has tried to tell those of us who are evangelicals that maybe we need to dial it back a little when it comes to issues like the sanctity of life and the holiness of marriage," said Huckabee, who ran second to U.S. Sen. John McCain for the 2004 GOP presidential nomination. "Well, I've got a news flash for the GOP: I plan to take my last ride in life on a white horse, not on an elephant and not on a donkey. And I will stick with the word of God and if the party, any party, goes a different way, I stick with Jesus. I believe he is forever."
-- Tim Funk
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Posted by Tim Funk at 11:53 AM