Monday, November 07, 2005

Tax exempt status only for conservative churches

First comes the anger:
Ten teachers of Christian ethics at leading seminaries and universities have written a letter to President Bush criticizing his campaign's outreach to churches, particularly its effort to gather church membership directories.

The Aug. 12 letter asked Bush to "repudiate the actions of your re-election campaign, which violated a fundamental principle of our democracy." It also urged both presidential candidates to "respect the integrity of all houses of worship."

The Bush-Cheney campaign has defended its outreach as a "peer-to-peer" effort rather than an attempt to enlist churches in partisan electioneering, which would violate Internal Revenue Service rules. Bush supporters also charge that some African American churches routinely support Democratic candidates.

Then comes the rage:
The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … " The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

The letter went on to say that "our concerns are based on a Nov. 1, 2004, newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times and a sermon presented at the All Saints Church discussed in the article."

The IRS cited The Times story's description of the sermon as a "searing indictment of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq" and noted that the sermon described "tax cuts as inimical to the values of Jesus."

And if anyone thinks the issue with All Saint Church is a fluke, I'd recommend reading this article as well, in which a Democratic leaning church was threatened by the IRS, but the local conservative Christian church was left alone.

This kind of partisan bullying by an arm of the government is disgustingly transparent. See here, here and here for just a few more examples of conservative Christian electioneering that have resulted in not one examination of tax exempt status by the IRS. Not one.

End sum: Conservative Christian churches and their political endorsement of certain candidates or issues are deemed a-okay by the IRS. But liberal or Bush-critical churches run the risk of having their tax exemption status scrutinized and possibly revoked.

I call shenanigans.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, I hate religion just as much as you, I think, but there have been all sorts investigations of right wing religious politiking.

The reverse happens when Dems are heading up the executive branch. That's the way of our government.

Remember all the investigations about christian organizations being political under Clinton? Above link I found on the first page of a google search. It's all partisan, no one is going to bite the hand that feeds them!

Anyway, if you want to be worried about tax free political organizations, take a look at Media Matters, which openly only pushes news items covering "conservative mis-information," not accuracy, just partisan viewpoints. And they opened a local outfit in Colorado, with the obvious goal of finally winning that state for us progressives. So be careful about asking for investigation of non profit political organizations, we have a lot to lose there and these religious nutjobs vote Republican anyway...

Thursday, January 29, 2009 8:40:00 PM  

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