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AU urges IRS action against churches preaching politics from the pulpit
Posted By A Guest Commentator On Monday, September 29, 2008 @ 8:24 pm In News,Politics | No Comments
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today filed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service about six churches whose pastors endorsed candidates from the pulpit during a mass defiance of federal tax law last Sunday.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Religious Right legal group in Scottsdale, Ariz., urged pastors to defy federal tax law by endorsing or opposing candidates during a so-called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” Sept. 28. Under the IRS Code, churches and other 501(c)(3) tax-exempt groups may not intervene in elections.
“These pastors flagrantly violated the law and now must deal with the consequences. This is one of the most appalling Religious Right gambits I’ve ever seen. Church leaders are supposed to tend to Americans’ spiritual needs, not behave like partisan political hacks. I urge the IRS to act swiftly in these cases.” ~~ Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.
Lynn also scored the ministers who took part in the ADF gambit.
“A pastor who knowingly violates federal tax law is setting a poor example for his or her congregation,” Lynn said. “Every pastor who took part in this stunt ought to be ashamed.”
The ADF overture has been roundly criticized. Many pastors refused to take part, arguing that America’s pulpits should not be politicized. In addition, three former IRS officials have filed a complaint asserting that the ADF has violated ethics standards governing tax attorneys by urging clients to violate the law.
The six churches reported to the IRS by Americans United today are:
Said AU’s Lynn, “When five of the six pastors choose to endorse John McCain, it’s hard not to see the ADF scheme as partisan in character.”
In complaint letters filed with the IRS, Americans United urged swift investigations of the churches and appropriate penalties.
About AU: Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
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