Is the God-given unalienable right to Free Speech guaranteed by the Constitution’s First Amendment cancelled out by the God-given unalienable right to the Free Exercise of Religion? Does a religious minister have to buy his right to Free Speech?
Here’s the heart of the problem, at least for Catholic priests. Catholics have an obligation under pain of mortal sin to assist with Holy Mass on Sunday’s (or any Vigil Mass). The Federal Government by way of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assists churches by not taxing incoming donations (Income Tax). It would be entirely offensive to the flock for a church or even a church minister to endorse a political candidate, well, in certain circumstances. Let’s make a distinction, which is not theological but rather deals only with taxes.
The question is this: Does a church minister, in this case a priest, ever have the right to endorse a political candidate?
To put this another way concerning the IRS and Income Tax. This priest, yours truly, pays Income Tax.
- I can receive income from the church as reimbursement for “business expenses” such as mileage (which I don’t do, to a loss of some $7,000 or $8,000.00 a year, to my loss). The parish simply cannot afford to assist me with what we call “Mercy Mileage,” miles which rack up when I take people frequently to hospital and doctor visits even hundreds of miles away (we are in a medical desert), or go on Communion Calls and Last Rites calls all over this four county area of Graham, Cherokee, Clay and Macon counties. Those purposes are called “business” as far as the IRS is concerned.
- But that distinction, made by the Federal Government, the IRS, mind you, means that in the very mind of the legislator, there is inescapable the real and expected possibility that a minister, indeed a priest, will have non-business mileage which he has no right to claim for business mileage as reimbursement-income. And while it is intended that this be a zero-sum game, so that it is only the money spent on business mileage that will be reimbursed (something like 0.55 ¢ per mile), it is still a recognition that a minister or priest has down time, non-business time, personal time, in which case he might take a vacation/pilgrimage to the Lourdes or the Holy Land, maybe read a book or… or… wait for it… write a blog post.
Speaking of writing my own personal opinion in my IRS granted down-time, let’s make some other things clear:
- This means that a minister or priest cannot express any endorsement of a political candidate from the pulpit, or during any official church function, whether on or off campus, whether during sick calls, Last Rites calls, Communion calls, during religious processions through the streets, during any celebration of the Sacraments or sacramentals, not even in private casual conversation if such minister or priest is actually using his status as a minister or priest to enforce such a political endorsement. This goes for church bulletins, newspapers secular or religious, radio or television broadcasting, or even social media. I do none of that.
- I make it crystal clear that when I communicate anything I do that simply in my own name. Period. End of story. But if you want more detail, see the long list of disclaimers about who I don’t speak for:
- I’m sure the IRS would be interested in some logistics. I’m good with that!
- The blog I write on is my own personal blog, not that of the church.
- I myself pay the fees for the blog and the domain.
- My blog has NOTHING to do with the parish. It has nothing to do with the Diocese. It has nothing to do, believe me, with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. It has nothing to do with the Holy See. Nothing to do with Pope Francis.
- I designed the blog myself. No one edits it for me. No one is required to read this. Almost zero people in the parish do read it. Those who do so only read it once in a while, well, except for one or two people. But even they say that they pretty much just look at the “Flowers” posts, wishing these were on Instagram. Never!
Finally, let’s just ask the question:
In view of the IRS, can a minister or priest, totally on his own time and with his own resources, utterly not as part of his ministering or his being a priest in a parish or diocese, as expressed at great length above, go ahead and endorse a political candidate, it being a given that, in not using any 501c3 privileges whatsoever, but indeed paying his own income tax?
Diversely, can a minister or priest BUY BACK his God-given unalienable right to free speech as already guaranteed by the first amendment?
Diversely, can I, with all the distinctions made above, in my being a citizen in good standing in this great country, wave my American Flag and say that for I which I was so brutally censored?
AS FOR ME: TRUMP 2020
I’ve yet to read up on what Trump said in his executive order, or what the Bishops Conference said, or what Saint Pope John Paul II said, etc. I’m going a million miles an hour, busy with being a priest, and I love being a priest. I also love being a human being and a citizen, as least on my own time. By the way, if anyone wonders, my up-hours as opposed to my down hours, are often 12 or 16 or 18, sometimes 20 hours a day. I wonder if there really is much down time after that. Or maybe we are not allowed down time. I really NEVER take vacations, ever. There are scheduled days off that I miss out on.
Let me be frank about this… Here’s the deal: I was told that I am always and only 24/7/365 in my official public capacity, that I never am a private person. I wonder if pooping and peeing is private, or if my verbal diarrhea always has to be at the level of Papal Exhortation or Papal Encyclical or Apostolic Exhortation? I wonder if this is why we have IDIOT papal sycophants who think that every word that comes out of the Pope’s mouth or his pen is entirely infallible instead of only when he speaks on faith and morals to the universal church as the successor of Peter especially when deciding a controversy. These sycophants are the reason why we have, on the other hand, sede-vacantists. These are those who are responsible for such division in the church. They overstep their capacities taking on an authority they do not have. Shame on them. Shame on them. They are tender snowflake violent bullies who smack others down to demonstrate to themselves the power they don’t actually have. Whew! Amen, and, if you only knew:
Laughing out loud!