My new piece takes you inside one of the 1500-odd churches that celebrated “Pulpit Freedom Day,” the fifth annual call for churches to re-engage in politics. I happened to be at a service in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, at one of the first chapels to do this and dare the IRS to investigate.
Calvary Chapel’s pastor, Robert Hall, was one of the first guys into the pool. In 2008, he joined 30 other pastors and gave a political sermon. Nothing happened. (He’d given $700 to Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, but was otherwise on the campaign sidelines.) In 2009, the number of pastors expanded, and Hall gave another sermon. Nothing. Every year he’d talk, and the IRS would ignore him. Finally, on “the Monday before Easter” this year, the IRS sent him notice it was “looking into it.”
Hall offers me the drink he usually gets after a sermon—a salted caramel mocha from the chapel’s café, served in a Tigger mug—and pronounces the threat to be ineffective. “I just laughed at the subtlety. That’s almost harassment. But apart from that they’ve never said a word to me.”
Read on to hear more about the sermon and see excerpts of other sermons in which pastors tell their audiences to vote against the Bible.