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Church: Anti-war sermon imperils tax status


Destino

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LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- The Internal Revenue Service has warned a prominent liberal church it could lose its tax-exempt status because of an anti-war sermon a guest preacher gave on the eve of the 2004 presidential election, church officials say.

The Rev. George F. Regas did not urge parishioners at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena to support either President Bush or John Kerry, but he was critical of the Iraq war and Bush's tax cuts.

The IRS warned the church in June that its tax-exempt status was in jeopardy because such organizations are prohibited from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

The church's rector, J. Edwin Bacon, told his congregation about the problem Sunday.

"It's important for everyone to understand that the IRS concerns are not supported by the facts," Bacon said.

Bacon later said he chose Sunday to inform the congregation because Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu was in attendance and because he believes a decision from the IRS is imminent.

He called the IRS threat "a direct assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion."

An IRS spokesman in Washington declined to comment Monday, saying he could not discuss particular cases.

Some All Saints members said they feared the 3,500-member church was being singled out for its political views.

All Saints has long been vocal about its positions. Its Web site mentions the upcoming special election in California and says three Republican-backed propositions would "alter the very fabric of our lives as a democracy by limiting the right to representation and the right to express a political point of view."

Regas, who gave the 2004 sermon, retired 10 years ago as the church's rector.

Marcus Owens, the church's tax attorney and a former head of the IRS tax-exempt section, said the agency offered to drop the proceedings if the church admitted wrongdoing. The church declined the offer, he said.

The IRS has revoked a church's charitable designation at least once.

A church in Binghamton, New York, lost its status after running advertisements against Bill Clinton's candidacy before the 1992 presidential election.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/07/antiwar.sermon.ap/index.html

Dear Christians,

You are no longer allowed to be anti-war

Thanks,

Uncle Sam

:laugh:

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Now, I stopped going to Sunday School in 5th grade, but I do seem to remember something about "Thou Shall Not Kill" ... and there was also something about turning the other cheek.

We definitely didn't spend much time on the Crusades.

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For a Christian church, anything in the Bible is a legitimate sermon topic. That includes taxes and homosexuality.

But for IRS purposes, using the pulpit/church/website for political advocacy is just inviting trouble. And if the church leadership is stupid enough to put its political positions on its website, and then turn down what looked a very reasonable offer by the IRS, they deserve whatever they get (to pay more taxes). Since the church was upset at Bush's tax policies, one might conclude that they'd be happy to pay more...

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Now, I stopped going to Sunday School in 5th grade, but I do seem to remember something about "Thou Shall Not Kill" ... and there was also something about turning the other cheek.

We definitely didn't spend much time on the Crusades.

That's probably cause you went to an asian church. You guys are all buddhist on the inside.

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This is because the church has a 501C3 tax exempt status, its like being incorperated. If the church had chosen not to be tax exempt they could say whatever they want. In other words if the church files to be tax exempt with the goverment they cannot support a political view from the pulpit, if they are not tax exempt they can.

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Now, how did I know that when the IRS finally (about 30 years late. or maybe 100.) decided to crack down on churches advocating politics, that it would be the only church in the US that doesn't think they own the GOP?

I think you will find they have come down on many churches that have supported the GOP .

Personally I am against churches being political,however the lines DO blur once you come to certain issues.

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They are so wrong: Unless a church says its supporting such and such during an election... who cares.. Anti-War is a good thing to be... I'm anti-war.

I pro-helping people being massacred but not a war for land kindsa thing.

The Bill Clinton thing I can see, this is someone feels way too much power...

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Will we revoke the tax exempt status of the next church that during an election cycle tells the press they will not be giving communion to canidate X because he is pro choice? Ah I see, that's not political. (sarcasm)

Beat me to it. Is the IRS going to threaten to revoke the tax exemption status of the Catholic Church too?

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Beat me to it. Is the IRS going to threaten to revoke the tax exemption status of the Catholic Church too?

The RCC reacted to Kerry's stand on abortion, not his run for office, which didn't appear to be a political gesture.

"but he was critical of the Iraq war and Bush's tax cuts." [/Quote]

This does appear to be a poitical gesture in reference to Bush, but no where near an election, and one that he can't be in, directly. I don't know what the IRS's rules are.

Did anyone see the CNN presents, show, during the last presidential election, on the fundamentalist Christian churches and some right wing org. that was traveling around the country in a high $$$ multi media RV supporting Bush? The Churches were really savy by not endorcing Bush directly, but arranging for this org. to bring their RV to the Church parking lots after services to influence the members while the Church appeared to be nuetral.

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Thiebear,

I'm confused. Are you saying a church can make a political point against a canidate like Clinton but not others? Is it only canidates you dislike they can speak out about and remain tax exempt?

I'm saying the church can NOT talk about candidates. I thought the removal of the church tax thing was good when they went against Clinton...

They can talk about issues in the Bible/Koran/etc... And not being sneaky by saying upcoming election and then talk about everything the person represents but not mention his name like First Baptist did in 2000 where i went.

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I'm not familiar with the IRS' traditional position here. It's okay to to preach pro or con regarding specific issues, but not to urge voters to vote one way or another? Anyone know?

When Pat Robertson gets on his TV ministry show and supports various Republican positions, that's okay?

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I'm not familiar with the IRS' traditional position here. It's okay to to preach pro or con regarding specific issues, but not to urge voters to vote one way or another? Anyone know?

When Pat Robertson gets on his TV ministry show and supports various Republican positions, that's okay?

Positions are OK,when you endorse or call for a vote against specific canidates is where they draw the line .

With IRS it is wherever they feel like usually ;)

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