21 churches in region join more than 1,500 nationally
Pastors at 21 churches in this part of the Northwest were among 1,586 pastors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico who participated in Alliance Defending Freedom’s (ADF) fifth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday Oct. 7
The registered pastors committed to preach sermons presenting biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates. In so doing, they exercised what ADF described as “their constitutionally protected freedom to engage in religious expression from the pulpit” despite an Internal Revenue Service rule known as the Johnson Amendment that activist groups often use to silence churches by threatening their tax-exempt status.
“Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “It’s outrageous for pastors and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for applying biblical teachings to all areas of life, including candidates and elections. The question is, ‘Who should decide the content of sermons — pastors or the IRS?’ ”
Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an event associated with the Pulpit Initiative, a legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom hopes to eventually go to court to have the Johnson Amendment struck down as unconstitutional for its regulation of sermons, which are protected by the First Amendment.
Pulpit Freedom Sunday began in 2008 with 33 pastors taking part nationally. Participation increased each year, with last year’s participation blossoming to 539.
B. J. Kuykendall, pastor of Hoodview Church of God in Woodburn, said he learned about the event in an e-mail sent out from nationally known pastor and author Jim Garlow of California.
“I appreciated what he was talking about,” said Kuykendall. “I think it is important for ministers to speak to the issues of the day. And God does have an opinion about certain issues.”
During his message to his congregation Oct. 8, Kuykendall made a direct comparison of the two presidential candidates’ positions on abortion and same-sex marriage, but also mentioned several less controversial issues such as the inflation of the nation’s money supply.
“I took the two candidates, expressed their record and said what they plan to do, but that we as Christians are supposed to forward God’s will on earth.
“I didn’t tell anyone who to vote for, but told them what the candidates stood for. I said that we will give an account to God on what we do.”
Kuykendall said his congregation overwhelmingly appreciated his public stance, with only one person walking out during the message.
Here is the full list of participating churches in this part of the region:
Abundant Life Church, Portland; Calvary Chapel Grants Pass; Canby Church of the Nazarene, Canby; Christian Fellowship of Central Oregon, Prineville; Church on the Hill, (Nazarene) McMinnville; Faith Harvest Fel-lowship, Albany; Friends in Christ Church, Grants Pass; Garden Valley Church, Roseburg; Goshen Assembly of God Church, Eugene; Heritage Family Church, Salem; Hoodview Church of God, Woodburn; Liberty Fellowship, Salem; Love International, Milton-Freewater; Provolt Community Church, Grants Pass; The Gathering Place, Silverton; The Solid Rock Community Church, Hermiston; The CHURCH, Salem; True Life Fellowship Church, Beaverton; Valley Worship Center, Mount Hood; Bridge Church, Myrtle Point; Calvary Community Church, Camas, Wash.