… The real question is this: When has the government ever been allowed to condition any government-recognized status (such as tax-exempt status) on the surrender of a constitutionally protected freedom?
Those who so easily say, “If you want to exercise your right to free speech, just give up your tax-exempt status,” don’t see the obvious problem with that line of reasoning. Are they also prepared to say, “If you want to exercise your right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, just give up your tax-exempt status” or “if you want to maintain your right against cruel and unusual punishment, just give up your tax-exempt status”?
Just as with those other rights, free speech is a constitutionally protected freedom, not a privilege that the government can grant or revoke while dangling the tax-exempt status of the speaker’s church over his head. That’s why the IRS rule against free speech for pastors should be struck down as unconstitutional.
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