Ministers to Defy I.R.S. By Endorsing Candidates - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Ministers to Defy I.R.S. By Endorsing Candidates

(NYTimes) They plan to then send copies of their sermons to the Internal Revenue Service, hoping to provoke a challenge to a law that bars religious organizations and other nonprofits that accept tax-deductible contributions from involvement in partisan political campaigns.

The protest, called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, was organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a consortium of Christian lawyers that fights for conservative religious and social causes. When the fund first announced the protest this year, it said it planned to have 50 ministers taking part. As of Thursday it said it had hundreds of volunteers, but had selected only 33 who were fully aware of the risks and benefits.

The fund did not make the list of participants public, saying that it had received phone calls threatening to disrupt the sermons. One participant reached by telephone said he could not talk about it.

Another participant, the Rev. Luke Emrich of New Life Church, a small evangelical church in West Bend, Wis., demurred when asked which candidate he planned to endorse on Sunday.

“I would say endorsement is a strong word,” he said. “I’m planning to make a recommendation. I’m going to evaluate each candidate’s positions in light of Scripture and make a recommendation to my congregation as to which candidate aligns more so.”

The fund provides legal support for religious conservatives who have long felt aggrieved at what they say are limits on their religious expression.

Organizers said they wanted a range of clergy of various faiths and political persuasions to join the protest, but acknowledged that the participants might be “weighted” toward the conservative end of the spectrum and more likely to support the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, than the Democrat, Senator Barack Obama.

Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said: “This is not something these churches want to do in secrecy and hiding. In fact, they don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong. They don’t believe they’re violating the law.

“What they’re doing is talking to their congregations about biblical issues related to candidates and elections, and they believe they have the constitutional right to do that.”

The protest is challenging an amendment to the tax code passed by Congress in 1954 saying that charitable organizations known as 501(c)(3)’s, which accept tax-deductible contributions, cannot intervene in political campaigns. The legislation was intended to prevent nonprofit organizations from funneling money and resources to political candidates.

Many members of the clergy support the ban on politicking from the pulpit. Nearly 30 clergy members, some leaders of denominations, signed a pledge recently vowing to refrain from endorsing candidates. The pledge was distributed by the Interfaith Alliance, a liberal religious advocacy group.

In the last decade, church politicking has drawn increasing scrutiny. Organizations like Americans United for Separation of Church and State have made a show of reporting churches to the I.R.S. to deter transgressors.

The Rev. Barry Lynn, of Americans United, said of the protest on Sunday: “They act like this is a massive act of civil disobedience, but this is not like sitting in at a lunch counter. This is trying to change the law to give certain conservative churches even more political clout.”

A spokesman for the I.R.S. said that the agency was aware of Pulpit Freedom Sunday and “will monitor the situation and take action as appropriate.”

Experts in tax law say it is more likely that the Alliance Defense Fund and its lawyers will face legal sanctions than the ministers, who may simply receive warnings to avoid politicking in the future.

Three former I.R.S. officials, now lawyers in a Washington firm, recently sent a letter to the I.R.S.’s Office of Professional Responsibility urging that the Alliance Defense Fund and its lawyers be investigated for “inducing churches to engage in conduct designed to violate federal tax law in a direct and blatant matter.”

One of the three who signed the letter, Marcus Owens, the former director of the division of tax-exempt organizations, said, “The ethics issue is a very real one, and the I.R.S. and the Department of Justice cannot be seen as blinking when lawyers or C.P.A.’s counsel people in how to violate the tax law.”

The organizers of Pulpit Freedom Sunday are convinced that the protest will result in a court challenge to the law. Mr. Stanley said the law was so unclear that, “I anticipate getting to federal court, certainly the appeals court.” But Robert W. Tuttle, a professor of law and religion at the George Washington University Law School, found that unlikely.

“It’s settled law,” Professor Tuttle said. “People can unsettle law that’s settled, but I think that it is very, very unlikely that a lower federal court would reach any other conclusion except that religious organizations have no constitutional right to engage in political speech while accepting deductible contributions.”

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 07:48 AM
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Throw them fuckers in jail, ex post haste. And while we're at it, let's turn churches into public entities that have the same Sarbanes-Oxley requirements as everyone else, reporting balance sheet info to the Congress and funding their own audits once a year.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 07:55 AM
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Throw them fuckers in jail, ex post haste. And while we're at it, let's turn churches into public entities that have the same Sarbanes-Oxley requirements as everyone else, reporting balance sheet info to the Congress and funding their own audits once a year.

Blasphemous Bastard, think of the all of the hookers and drug dealers who may have to take an honest job if all of that cash dries up............
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 08:06 AM
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May God help us
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 08:24 AM
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Amen and Hallelujah..............oops lost my head for a minute
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 08:28 AM
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Throw them fuckers in jail, ex post haste. And while we're at it, let's turn churches into public entities that have the same Sarbanes-Oxley requirements as everyone else, reporting balance sheet info to the Congress and funding their own audits once a year.
Hey Que are you having an avatar idenTITy crisis?
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 09:22 AM
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Nah, every once in a while I stumble across an old box of fond memories in my brain and dig something out. The character "Darwin Mayflower" from the movie Hudson Hawk. Love that movie, got it on DVD. Talk about over the top. Wow.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 04:50 PM
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The critic's short shrift of Hudson Hawk's cinematic contributions was one of Hollywood's more ignoble moments.....
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2008, 04:55 PM
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Full of great quotes. Well acted on all accounts; perhaps the movie that solidified the comedic chops of Andie McDowell, which was cemented by Groundhog Day.

The only thing I could ever stand seeing Sandra Bernhardt doing, was playing the role of Mrs. Mayflower.

"Bunny.....ball ball!"
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