According to a statement made on September 26 by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and a leading watchdog of tax-exempt organizations in Congress, clergy members should be allowed to speak their minds on political issues. Grassley was referring to a recent initiative by the Alliance Defense Fund urging pastors to defy IRS rules and publicly endorse political candidates by name. The ADF, a conservative legal organization, enlisted 33 pastors to deliver sermons on September 28, and many of the sermons impliedly endorsed Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Endorsing political candidates, explicitly or implicitly, currently is prohibited by IRS rules. ADF has said that it wants to prompt a Supreme Court challenge resulting from its actions in order to finally resolve free speech issues that have existed for churches since 1954. Grassley has supported legislation in the past that would overturn the IRS prohibition against endorsing political candidates. He said pastors have a right to challenge the restriction and provoke legal action against themselves as a way to get the law thrown out. Current law states that because of a church’s tax-exempt status, a church leader cannot use church funds to help a candidate. However, according to Grassley, it should be permissible under the First Amendment for a preacher to say what he wants as long as it doesn’t cost the organization any money. The ADF has pledged to defend any churches that end up in court as a result of the initiative.