Saturday, November 3, 2012

1,500 Pastors Openly Defied the IRS & Politicized from the Pulpit; the IRS Looks the Other Way

Article Mirror

November 3, 2012

As reported here, a Texas church recently posted a marquee message urging people to “vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim” which violated federal tax law and should suffer the consequences, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the Internal Revenue Service.

Ray Miller, pastor of the Church in the Valley in Leakey, Texas, posted the message on the church’s marquee. The full message read, “VOTE FOR THE MORMON, NOT THE MUSLIM! THE CAPITALIST, NOT THE COMMUNIST!” (written in Republican caps.)

The IRS has decided apparently to stick their collective fingers in their ears, saying, ‘La la la la la la, I can’t hear you!’ If we break a tax law, we pay for it dearly and the church has been overstepping.

Case in point: More than 1,500 pastors openly defied the IRS by telling their congregation on October 7 to vote for a particular presidential candidate. The Conservative Christian Group ‘Alliance Defending Freedom’ organized the event in 2008 — the year that Obama was elected — called, ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ to endorse a candidate from the pulpit and then sent a record of their statement to the IRS, hoping their challenge would eventually end up in court.

The response from the I.R.S. is not enthusiastic.

AP reports: The IRS monitors religious and other nonprofits on everything from salaries to spending, and that oversight continues. However, Russell Renwicks, a manager in the IRS Mid-Atlantic region, recently said the agency had suspended audits of churches suspected of breaching federal restrictions on political activity. A 2009 federal court ruling required the IRS to clarify which high-ranking official could authorize audits over the tax code’s political rules. The IRS has yet to do so.

Attorneys who specialize in tax law for religious groups, as well as advocacy groups who monitor the cases, say they know of no IRS inquiries in the past three years into claims of partisanship by houses of worship. IRS church audits are confidential, but usually become public as the targeted religious groups fight to maintain their nonprofit status.

“The impression created is that no one is minding the store,” said Melissa Rogers, a legal scholar and director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University Divinity School in North Carolina. “When there’s an impression the IRS is not enforcing the restriction – that seems to embolden some to cross the line.”

According to the sources from the AP, investigations into politicizing from the pulpit have been nonexistent for several years now.

Is it any wonder that younger people are leaving the church?

On a side note: I attend a church. I’m fairly certain that the pastor is a Conservative, but you would never know it from his sermons. Politics and religion should never mix.