Eric Mach [DRC, May 15], seems alarmed over the enforcement of section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code as amended in 1954. His concerns are not warranted.
No one’s free speech is being suppressed. Everyone is free to state his or her opinion on any matter without fear of negative tax consequences. However, if that individual speaks as a representative of a 501(c)(3) organization (churches, foundations, museums, etc.) and endorses or opposes candidates for political offices, that organization might lose numerous tax advantages, the most important being the right to accept donations as tax deductible.
Consider the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, who openly endorsed Gov. Perry during the 2012 Republican primary campaign. He did so as a private citizen and was not prohibited in any way.
Had Jeffress and his congregation chosen to openly engage in politicking from the pulpit or on church stationery (presumably with the acquiescence of the Southern Baptist Convention), he would also be free to do so as often as he wished without fear. However, would he be willing to forego the big bucks in donations that might stop coming his way should the church lose its 501(c)(3) status?
Mach’s tangential comments concerning the Democratic Party and racism are to a large extent correct. Before the 1960s, nearly all racists and segregationists were Democrats. Some were major political leaders such as James Byrnes, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond.
So, what eventually happened to the racist Democrats including Byrnes, Helms and Thurmond? They became Republicans.