Some of my colleagues in the pro-life movement were arrested recently for distributing literature on Catholic property. They were not arrested for violence or inappropriate behavior, but for distributing literature telling people it is immoral to vote for Obama.
Now I understand that by law, Churches cannot distribute or fund the distribution of literature that directly or indirectly endorses a candidate. We labor under the same legal restrictions at Priests for Life. The literature that was distributed the other day can be seen at www.ahumbleplea.com/Docs/StopObama.pdf, and the IRS would certainly regard this flier as a “political intervention” prohibited to Churches under tax law.
However, I respectfully ask everyone involved in this controversy to consider two questions, on their own merits:
1. No Church was organizing or paying for the literature or its distribution. So, if it’s a concern in the first place, how could the Church in any way be accused of violating any tax law in a case where another group is paying for and distributing such literature?
2. Is there any point at which the Church has to intervene in a political campaign, despite the legal consequences? The Church, after all, has 2000 years of experience at dealing with legal consequences for the sake of justice. At what point do we have to speak and act? Put another way, how bad do things have to get, in regard to the positions that candidates or parties take, or the actions they pursue, before the scales of prudence and fidelity tip in the direction of action rather than inaction, and of crying out rather than silence?