Politics, Taxes, and the Pulpit: Provocative First Amendment Conflicts
Cook, Douglas H., Journal of Church and State
Politics, Taxes, and the Pulpit: Provocative First Amendment Conflicts. By Nina J. Crimm and Laurence H. Winer. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 407 pp. $75.00.
Law professors usually write law review articles. These dense, heavily footnoted pieces are the currency of the trade in legal academia. It is therefore interesting to see what happens when law professors (as here) write books. The result in this case is an extremely valuable, engaging, and well-written contribution to the literature in this area of the law. In some ways, at over four hundred pages, it looks like a law review article that got too big for its britches: hundreds of footnotes in most of the chapters, an emphasis on intense and nuanced legal analysis, and a concentration on one discrete and focused area of the law. But it works. And oddly enough, as observed below, it may not be long enough.
Ironically, this large book deals with (essentially) just thirty-one words from one section of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, which impose a limitation on the activities of churches and other 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable, educational, and religious organizations: "and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), and political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office." Just as it sounds, this part of the statute means that these tax-exempt organizations cannot in any way be involved in poUtical candidate campaigns: no endorsing, no fundraising, no rallies, no anything. Just about everything one would ever want to know about this topic is covered by the authors. To provide context, they trace in great and helpful detail the history of the ways that the federal and state governments in this country have (and have not) been involved in the taxation of churches. There is also extensive and insightful discussion of the many issues raised by this candidate campaign prohibition from the perspective of the Free Exercise, Establishment, and Free Speech clauses of the Constitution.
The authors have made a few choices that are potentially problematic, however. In addition to the candidate campaign prohibition, section 501(c)(3) also severely limits (without strictly prohibiting) exempt organizations from attempting to influence legislation- "lobbying," in the exempt organizations' jargon. There are obvious …
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Publication information: Article title: Politics, Taxes, and the Pulpit: Provocative First Amendment Conflicts. Contributors: Cook, Douglas H. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Church and State. Volume: 53. Issue: 3 Publication date: Summer 2011. Page number: 474+. © 1999 J.M. Dawson Studies in Church and State. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.