Saturday, September 22, 2018
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Hawaii AG 'Guidance' an Attempt to Silence Churches During Elections
By Selected News Articles @ 2:23 AM :: 933 Views :: First Amendment, Religion

Hawaii Gov‘t Attempting to Silence Churches Ahead of Midterm Elections, Conservative Legal Group Claims

by Michael Gryboski, Christian Post, Aug 23, 2018

A conservative legal group who recently won a religious liberty case at the Supreme Court warned that the Hawaii government is trying to silence churches ahead of the midterm elections.

The Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to Hawaii Attorney General Russell Suzuki on Monday taking issue with a guidance letter he sent out last month regarding charities and political activity.

ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley wrote that he believed Suzuki's guidance was "clearly an intimidation tactic leveled at Hawaii's houses of worship to frighten them into silence on the upcoming elections for political office."

"Houses of worship need not be silent during elections out of a misplaced fear that simply participating in the life of their communities and their state, they will somehow run afoul of federal tax law," wrote Stanley.

"Your vague and misleading 'guidance' is nothing more than an attempt to use federal tax law to silence the voice of houses of worship."

Stanley objected to the guidance, noting among other things that Hawaii cannot enforce federal tax law and that he felt the guidance did not give sufficient attention to the things religious bodies are permitted to do.

"Additionally, religious leaders do not surrender their First Amendment freedoms by entering the pastorate," continued Stanley.

"Acting individually, they enjoy the same right to speak as any other citizen. They may freely support or oppose political candidates without violating federal tax law or implicating their church's 501(c)(3) tax status."

On July 23, Hawaii's Department of the Attorney General released a guidance on political activity and charitable organizations in response to the upcoming state and federal elections.

"Tax-exempt charitable organizations should know that they do not share the same legal rights to participate in political activity as individuals and other corporations," stated the Department.

"Organizations exempt from income tax under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), which include churches, private schools, universities, and humanitarian organizations, pay no federal or Hawaii income taxes and must operate exclusively for their tax-exempt purposes."

The guidance warned that nonprofits could lose their tax-exempt status should they intervene or participate on behalf of a political campaign. It also noted that tax law "does not restrict the free expression of opinions by individuals or leaders who are associated with charitable organizations."

"Statements advocating for the election or defeat of a candidate by an exempt organization's leadership, however, may threaten the organization's tax-exempt status unless the leaders clearly indicate that their comments do not represent the views of the organization and there is no appearance that the organization's resources were used to issue the statement," continued the guidance.

Among the recommendations, the guidance says to "Avoid publishing any statements right before an election advocating for a public policy issue that may divide political candidates," and to "Monitor website links and review social media content to ensure that political material cannot be connected to the tax exempt organization." 

  *   *   *   *   *

Hawaii attorney general out of bounds to intimidate churches, charitable orgs

ADF letter answers falsehoods, threats apparently designed to frighten houses of worship into silence

News Release from ADF, Aug 21, 2018

HONOLULU – Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Monday to Hawaii Attorney General Russell Suzuki in response to a news release he issued last month with misleading information about how the federal tax code applies to nonprofits, including churches. The news release seeks to silence churches and non-profit charitable organizations by inappropriately threatening their tax-exempt status if they speak about political issues during the upcoming election season.

The ADF letter explains that not only is the information Suzuki issued overstated and lopsided—telling churches and other nonprofits what they supposedly can’t do but saying very little about what they can do—but he also has no authority to enforce federal tax law.

“Churches and charitable organizations have a constitutionally protected freedom to decide for themselves what they want to say or not say without violating the federal tax code,” said ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “The Hawaii attorney general has issued misleading information on a law that is outside of his enforcement authority, leading us to believe that he is simply attempting to bully churches and other nonprofits into silence during the upcoming election season so that their opinions and views won’t be heard.”

As the ADF letter explains to Suzuki, “Houses of worship need not be silent during elections out of a misplaced fear that simply participating in the life of their communities and their state, they will somehow run afoul of federal tax law. Your vague and misleading ‘guidance’ is nothing more than an attempt to use federal tax law to silence the voice of houses of worship. It is not the province of the Attorney General for the State of Hawaii to act as an IRS agent seeking to enforce federal tax law. Nor is it your within your duties as Attorney General to opine on the meaning and application of federal tax law, and certainly not in such a one-sided manner that attempts to intimidate houses of worship and religious leaders in Hawaii.”

In the letter, ADF offers to defend, free of charge, any church leaders threatened simply for exercising their freedom of speech.

---30---

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

ADF: Letter to Hawaii Attorney General Aug 20, 2018

AG: ATTORNEY GENERAL PROVIDES GUIDANCE FOR CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS AND POLITICAL ACTIVITY, July 23, 2018

 

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940

ABCDEFG Blog

ACA Signups Hawaii

ACCE

Affordable Hawaii Coalition

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Conservative Alliance

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii

AMVETS-Hawaii

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

Conservative Forum for Hawaii

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Senate Informer

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Hawaii Votes

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

HIEC.Coop

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube

HPACC

Hump Day Report

Hunting, Farming and Fishing Assoc.

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

OHA Lies

Ohana Policy Group

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Salvage The Rail

Save the Plastic Bag

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Copenull

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

TEA Party Maui

TFB Micronesia

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

United Veterans Hawaii

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT