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The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

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Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act

The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act (H.R. 235) H.R. 235, a measure introduced by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), would have allowed clergy to endorse candidates from the pulpit and still retain a tax exemption of their house of worship. The bill was drafted by attorneys with TV preacher Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice.

Some of the movement's largest groups and most prominent leaders endorsed the bill, including the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, James Dobson of Focus on the Family and TV preachers Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. The Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination closely aligned with the Religious Right, also endorsed the measure.

The bill was defeated by a vote of 178-239 on Oct. 2, 2002. The bill was re-introduced in January, 2003, and then on January 4, 2005.

Update on the Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act

The Jones Bill is now the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act (H.R. 235). For a suggested action alert from Americans United click here. (1/2/05)

From Church and State, February, 2004

From Church and State, August 6, 2004

As it turns out, the bill really isn't intended to promote free speech at all. Instead, Jones sees it as a vehicle to elect more conservatives to public office.

In a recent column , Religious Right warhorse Paul M. Weyrich wrote, "Jones is absolutely convinced that this can be accomplished in this Congress. He is equally convinced that the passage of his bill means the difference between victory and defeat for the president and many Senate candidates.

From The Hill, a Congressional newsletter, September 12, 2004:

Frustrated that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) essentially rejected House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) request in June to change the tax code on this issue, 131 House lawmakers are pressing the Speaker to act before the 108th Congress adjourns.

Southern Baptists Drop Support Of Church Electioneering Bill, Church and State, June, 2005


Last updated: June, 2005