On radio this morning, Glenn interviewed Pastor Jim Garlow about a new initiative to get pastors to speak up about some of the political issues of the day. And while Glenn certainly doesn't want to have his church telling him where to stand on political issues, he also doesn't want to have the government stifling free speech in church.
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The full transcript of their interview is below:
I want to bring in Jim gar low. He is the pastor of skyline church in La Mesa, California. He also is part of pulpitfreedom.org. I want you to go there now. This is really going to rely on you helping this movement out. Jim, how are you, sir?
GARLOW: I'm doing well, Glenn. Thank you.
GLENN: You bet. Can you explain exactly what you have planned on October 2nd?
GARLOW: October 2nd across America will be Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Pastors will be free to speak in such a way to defy what's called the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment was enacted by Senate, our U.S. Senate without a single bit of commentary or discussion on a voice vote only when then Lyndon Baines Johnson, then senator of Texas, came back from Texas after a bruising battle for reelection. He was angry at two businessmen who had two nonprofit corporations that opposed him because they thought he was soft on communism. So he added a couple of sentences to the IRS code which said in effect that anyone associated with a 501(c)(3), not‑for‑profit corporation could not oppose or speak out in any way pertaining to political issues or candidates' positions, and the result is for 57 years this law has been not one single time tested in the court because the IRS doesn't want it to be. And so the Alliance Defense Fund, a group of some 2,500 Christian attorneys allied together across America hand‑selected a group of 33 pastors in 2008 who would stand up and intentionally defy it and then record their sermons and send them to the IRS based upon the First Amendment's freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Nothing happened. So the next year 84 pastors in 2009 did the same thing, recorded their sermons and sent them to the IRS; nothing happened. Last year 100 pastors did it. This year somewhere between 400 to 500 pastors have so far signed up and who will be sending in their sermons after they preach October the 2nd, and the whole issue of the Sunday is not whether or not a pastor outlines exactly where our candidate stands or how you should vote. The issue is there should be no government intrusion in the pulpit at all. The government should never tell a pastor how to preach in any way. If people actually believe in separation of church and state, they would affirm the fact that the government should have no capacity to dictate to any individual church or any pastor anywhere what they speak and so that's the purpose of Pulpit Freedom Sunday. People can go to pulpitfreedom.com and there they will see a lot of information about this Sunday, and a tremendous movement is occurring across America.
GLENN: It goes both ways. You can't chase God out of the public square and put the government into the pulpit. You can't. Separation of church and state. You say you don't want God in the public square? You can't ‑‑ you can't have, you know, God in the government, which is not what our founders intended. But you want to make that claim? If you really do believe in separation of church and state, you cannot also then put Uncle Sam in the pulpit. You must have freedom of expression in the pulpit. Get the government out of the churches. I've never said revoke Jeremiah Wright's tax status, never. Never have I said that. You want to attend that church? I think it is a dangerous, dangerous church, and I will speak out about it. But I'm not saying round Jeremiah Wright up. I'm not saying that he is ‑‑ he's breaking the law. I'm not saying that his tax status should be taken away. He's a preacher. If that's the kind of church you want, God bless ya. I think you're sadly, sadly mistaken and on the wrong side. But it is his right to say it in the pulpit. Period.
So now what happens, Jim? You have these ‑‑ you have these pastors who are going to give these sermons and you're going to tape it. What kind of sermons should they be giving?
GARLOW: Well, the example what I'll be preaching that day is I'll walk through the various people who, for example, are running for president right now. I will outline where they stand on the topic of abortion, where they stand on the definition of marriage, where they stand on issues of national debt, where they stand on issues of understanding the nature of taxation. Then I will walk through what I believe the Bible teaches about each of these with a concluding statement of any follower of Jesus Christ would want to vote for people who stay within the framework of biblical mandates from God. Why would a follower of Jesus want to violate what the Bible teaches about these principles?
Now, this interestingly enough doesn't apply just to me as a ‑‑ I happen to be a conservative evangelical pastor. This would apply to leftwing pastors as well who take the opposite position.
GARLOW: I mean, this gives them complete freedom in the pulpit as well. So it's not just those of us that might be considered conservative. This is complete pulpit freedom regardless of what type of pastor we're speaking of.
GLENN: I have somebody on tonight on GBTV who shall remain nameless at this point but he is a ‑‑ he doesn't agree with me. He doesn't agree with me on policies. But he's a lefty and he's involved.
GARLOW: And another thing, too. People say, oh, well, the church is tax‑exempt, so it should not be. Well, the church was tax‑exempt for 162 years before this ever happened, before the Johnson Amendment in 1954 because we do believe in separation of church and state. The power to tax is the power to destroy and separation between church and state is what separated that. And the irony is there are many tax‑exempt organizations that are called 501(c)s and they have no speech restriction upon themself but only this one category because of this quirk in the law, 501(c)(3) is the code name for churches. Only churches and religious organizations have speech restrictions on them. All the other tax‑exempt organizations, and there are 20 ‑‑ I think 27 different categories, none of them have speech restrictions on them like churches do.
GLENN: Now here's what I want you to do. America, I want you to go talk to your pastor, your church, your priest, your rabbi, I don't care if you're for traditional marriage, against traditional marriage. Doesn't matter to me. You go to them and tell them on October 2nd you give a speech that does talk about politics, that is a poke in the eye at the man. And then you take and you videotape it and they will all be sent to Washington D.C. where Washington D.C. has a rebellion on their hands and they have to either fight this case in the courts and lose or admit that what they have is a sham. But it is time to challenge this and it's time for the pastors and the priests and the rabbis to stop cowering in fear. We'll give you details on that here in just a second. Jim, can you hang on just a second more?
GARLOW: Yeah, sure can.
GLENN: All the information is at pulpitfreedom.org, pulpitfreedom.org.
STU: There's a big story too on The Blaze, Glenn, from this weekend that explains all of this as well.
STU: So you can get all of it there.
GLENN: Please pass this on to everyone you know. Take that story, go to pulpitfreedom.org, you can see some stuff on it. Also you can go to TheBlaze.com, get a story on it. And more tonight on GBTV. And just one more thought on courage with Jim gar low in just a second.
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GLENN: Let me go back to Jim gar low, pulpitfreedom.org. This is not a left or right issue. This is a right and wrong issue. Does the state have a right to edit the words from the pulpit? Pastors, priests and rabbis, you need to be involved and speak up and speak up now. I'm asking you to get involved if you are just a congregant some place. You just go. You don't have anything to do. I want you to Facebook this, I want you to tweet this message, I want you to get this message out and get it to your pastor, priest or rabbi right away. Pulpit Freedom is Sunday, October 2nd.
Jim gar low, the problem as I see it is too many people in the pulpit are afraid of alienating their flock because they could lose. I mean, they could lose their tithing money and their jobs. So people, shhh, be quiet.
GARLOW: The number one problem in the pulpit is fear, not fear of the IRS. It's fear of people who ‑‑ you've exactly said it right ‑‑ who somehow operate with the cultural myth that the pulpit should be controlled anyway by any kind of government intrusion. Tragically that's wrong and we must educate our parishioners that it's wrong. If the First Amendment means anything, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, it ought to mean that we have freedom in the pulpit. But what happens there? We're not telling a pastor he has to endorse or oppose a candidate. We're simply saying that is a church's decision or a pastor's decision. By the way, the Alliance Defense Fund with its 2500 attorneys is prepared to defend any of these pastors pro bono if the IRS were to come after them. But ironically the IRS has worked hard to keep this out of court and so it's never seen the light of a courtroom in 57 years. It's never been contested. Each time a church comes up to that point, then they ‑‑ the IRS backs away, "We're closing your file, just don't do this again." They don't want to go to court. In 57 years no church has ever lost its tax exemption, but a lot of saber‑rattling goes on. I suppose most people aren't aware that right before an election, we as pastors start getting letters from primarily leftwing organizations saying, you better not speak out; this will be illegal, you'll lose your tax exemption. None of that is true, but that gets mailed to pastors, particularly conservative pastors, to try to silence them. And we say enough of that, that any pastor, conservative or liberal, has the right to speak from the pulpit what they choose based upon the First Amendment. Not based upon what the IRS would dictate.
GLENN: You have between 400 and 500 pastors involved right now. I would like to see that number 600, 700, 800, 1,000 because if there's a real groundswell, the message will be sent to the IRS, which is a weapon in the hands of whichever side is in power, can be used as a weapon. And the weapon of the IRS needs to be taken down.
Do you sense political courage here or spiritual courage from the pastors? Really this is the Black‑Robe Regiment. This is it.
GARLOW: I really do. I'm not naive about this. I know what we face. At the same time one year ago David Barton and I led a 12‑day tour of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. It was called the Next Great Awakening Tour. We went to Harvard, Yale, Princeton and many of the sites ‑‑
GLENN: About 15 seconds.
GARLOW: ‑‑ of the Revolutionary War and we went past the home of Jonas Clark.
GLENN: Hold on just a second, Jim. We've only got about 5 seconds left now. Back in just a second. He can finish up the story. I want you to go to pulpitfreedom.org. Back in a second.
GLENN: Tonight GBTV.com, having a town hall meeting. I'm bringing you in as a shareholder of GBTV and you will see one of our strategy sessions. We're going to do it on the set. I was in the middle of a meeting today and I said, you know what? Let's bring the audience in on this and everybody kind of got quiet and I said, I know, never been done before on television. Oh, well, this isn't television. This is something completely different. But I need you to be a part of what we're building. I need you to be a part and tell us what you're thinking. You're going to see the beginning of a course and some of the things that I'm thinking on now trying to take GBTV to the next level. We stabilized it by the end of the week on, okay, now we're doing a good television show for you that you are used to. Now comes the ‑‑ now comes the hard part. Now comes the part of doing things that nobody's ever done and making it one on one, interactive and what you need. Join us tonight, GBTV.com. Where you own the dump. So you might as well be involved in planning it, huh? That's tonight, GBTV.com.
Jim gar low is with us. There is pulpit Freedom Sunday happening. Important for you to go, important for you to find out what this is. Go to pulpitfreedom.org, find out what this is and then go viral, please. I think, Pat and I were just talking about it during the break. I think this is a big test quite honestly whether or not the right is ‑‑ if they want to be or can be activists because you have to be at this point. You have to be, or the way of life and your freedom of speech is going to be gone. And I know that's a pretty bold statement, but it is absolutely true. Go to pulpitfreedom.org.
Jim, I just want to wrap up this one story. You and David Barton were going around. I asked you if there was political courage. You said you toured some of the places where the revolution began in the 1700s.
GARLOW: That's correct. It was about a year ago and the high point of the entire trip, it was a twelve‑day tour. We took a group of ‑‑ full busload of people on a tour called the Next Great Awakening Tour but the heighth of it for me was going past the home of Jonas Clark in Lexington, Massachusetts. He was the one where Paul Revere was trying to get to on the night of the famous midnight ride and what intrigued me was the British were going after the pastors and Paul Revere was trying to warn the pastors. It was as you've already spoken about so many times the Black‑Robe Regiment that sparked the revolution, that gave us the freedom we have. And my question today, are the contemporaries of Paul Revere, are they coming back to warn the pastors because those who are attacking truth and freedom and justice are coming after us? Or are we so silent in the pulpit that the seculars who would destroy America as we know it don't even really care about what's going on in the pulpit? And we have a chance on October the 2nd, this coming Sunday, to rise up in America's churches, in America's pulpits and speak with truth. We need to thunder forth the way they did back in the colonies when the pastors would preach an election sermon, annual election sermon, they were three hours long.
GLENN: Hang on a minute.
GARLOW: And I'm to the recommending your pastor try three hours long this weekend. But the point is that the people looked towards those who were to be spokespersons for God to disseminate truth about not only what the Bible says about personal issues, not only what the Bible says about family issues or church life but the Bible speaks to community and national life. National issues that are on the news right now tonight. And we ought to be as pastors articulating what God's will is towards these situations. Silence in the pulpit has harmed us for these last 57 years.
GLENN: Pastor, talk to you again, my friend. Thank you very much. Can you keep me updated on what's happening and what you see on the website, et cetera, et cetera? And pastors can just get involved by going to?
GARLOW: Pulpitfreedom.org. And Glenn, thank you for being a cheerleader for truth and as you've already indicated, people ought to call their pastors and say, do we have a free pulpit? Is our pulpit walking in freedom? We want you to join this movement: Pulpitfreedom.org.