Sep 22, 1998
Churches can lose their federal tax exemption if they distribute partisan voter guides, according to an "urgent memorandum" prepared by two of the nation's leading nonprofit tax law authorities.
In the memo and a supporting legal analysis released this week, Washington, D.C., attorneys Milton Cerny and Albert G. Lauber Jr. explain that churches and other religious ministries face serious penalties if found to be engaging in partisan political activity by the Internal Revenue Service.
Aug 13, 1998
A federal district court decision barring voucher-style aid to religious schools protects taxpayers and constitutional principles, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
"This decision sends a strong message that taxpayers should never be forced to support private religious education," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, a watchdog group that provided legal assistance in the case. "The Maine case was one more attempt to tear down public education and introduce a voucher program subsidizing private religious schools. The court rightly said no."
Aug 10, 1998
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged education officials in South Carolina to ignore an attorney general's opinion saying that the Ten Commandments may be displayed in public schools.
In an Aug. 11 letter to the South Carolina State Board of Education, Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn charged that Attorney General Charles M. Condon's analysis is "flawed and misleading."
In the non-binding opinion, Condon asserts that public schools may display the Ten Commandments as part of an effort to teach students about law, history or culture. In fact, says Lynn, the U.S. Supreme Court has never upheld such displays.
Jul 30, 1998
The Internal Revenue Service should investigate two tax-exempt Kansas anti-abortion groups for partisan politicking, a national church-state watchdog group said today.
In a letter to the IRS, Americans United for Separation of Church and State charged that Kansans for Life and an affiliate organization, Kansans for Life, Kansas City Region, are endorsing candidates for public office in the August primary elections in Kansas.
Federal tax law prohibits tax-exempt nonprofit organizations from endorsing candidates for public office. Groups that violate the rules risk losing their tax exemption.
Jul 28, 1998
Two dozen of the nation's leading church-state scholars have signed a joint letter to the Library of Congress refuting a paper the Library issued June 1 that was highly critical of Thomas Jefferson's views on religion and government.
In 1802, then-President Jefferson wrote the Danbury, Conn., Baptist Association a letter noting that the American people through the First Amendment had built "a wall of separation between church and state." The letter has been cited by the Supreme Court and other federal courts as an important statement of the Framers' constitutional intentions.