FEC set to silence faith-based social commentary?

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center (otherwise known as the Reform Movement’s political arm), testified today against new FEC rules targeting 527’s soft money expenditures. In plain speak, groups like MoveOn.org have raised oodles and oodles of cash without limits or reporting accountability that actual campaigns have to adhere to. Now Republicans (who have a decided advantage in hard money fundraising) are crying foul, asking the FEC to tighten the rules so these 527’s (so-called due to the part of election law that allows for them) can’t skirt campaign finance laws.

Saperstein, however, is worried “over the violation of religious liberty that this rule could impose on faith groups who feel religiously compelled to speak out on social issues.” He adds in his letter requesting to testify, “Congress consciously decided to stop short of applying its soft money regulations … to non-profit interest groups, which do not present the same potential for corruption or the appearance of corruption as political parties.”

This is an interesting tack. Might the FEC inadvertently stifle the free expression of religious groups to engage on social issues and houses of worship to engage in religious expression? Welcome to the world of federal election law, all packaged with shiny red tape.

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