My name is Bill Mefford, and I am the new Faith Outreach Specialist for Americans United. I started in mid-March so I am still getting my feet wet, but I look forward to working with AU members as we mobilize faith communities to ensure that religious expression is maintained for all and not used to harm others.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump said recently that the Internal Revenue Service is targeting him because of his religious beliefs.
All high-profile presidential candidates are expected to release their tax returns at some point during the campaign, but Trump had not yet done so as of early March. He claimed he wasn’t able to because he is a frequent target of audits – although it’s unclear why that would prevent him making his returns public.
Some far-right Christians have a hard time obeying the law. Among them is Religious Right attorney Matt Barber, who really dislikes the idea of church-state separation and particularly has a bone to pick with the Internal Revenue Code’s prohibition against pulpit politicking by houses of worship.
In a recent column, Barber spouted the tired, old line that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ are found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution….”
A top tax attorney who has been appointed to an important position at the U.S. Department of Justice is being blocked, apparently because he has expressed support for a federal law that bans partisan politicking by houses of worship.
A year ago, President Barack Obama nominated Cono Namorato to serve as assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice’s tax division. The 73-year-old is currently a tax lawyer with a private firm in Washington, D.C., but he spent two years earlier in his career as director of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a New York City church that endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in its church bulletin.
The Church of Saint Catherine of Siena’s Sept. 2 bulletin contains a column by the Rev. John Farren, a member of the congregation’s pastoral staff. Titled “From Father Farren, O.P.,” the essay reprints an appeal by several former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican calling on Catholics to vote for Romney.
On Oct. 2, a few fundamentalist clergy around the country will observe “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” They will take to their pulpits and endorse or oppose candidates in defiance of federal tax law, which prohibits nonprofits from intervention in elections.
At the end of this week, the Republican National Convention will come to a close and move the 2008 election season into its final months.
With the new VP picks on the tickets and the buzz surrounding the conventions, it wouldn't be surprising if more religious leaders have the urge to spout off on their picks for the president (and vice president) from the pulpit.