The Internal Revenue Service should make it clear that houses of worship and other tax-exempt, non-profit groups have no right to engage in partisan politicking, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the tax agency today.
In a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn urged the agency to act now, since the 2016 presidential campaign is getting under way.
Sunday was my 30th birthday, and the Religious Right got me a pretty rotten gift – the latest installment of the so-called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”
As you may recall, “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” was created in 2008 by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an Arizona-based Religious Right legal outfit founded by right-wing radio and television preachers. The ADF says it has encouraged pastors to give sermons “that present biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates.”
Is the Internal Revenue Service still enforcing the federal tax law ban on partisan politicking by churches and other non-profits?
IRS officials say they are.
In an interview with NBC News, IRS spokesman Dean Patterson repudiated comments by a regional IRS official who said recently that the agency was "holding any potential church audits in abeyance" while it revises its regulations in light of a 2009 federal court decision.
As many of you know, on Sunday more than 1,000 pastors nationwide took part in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an annual event sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to encourage clergy to openly violate federal law by endorsing or opposing candidates.
AU staffers spent the holiday weekend fielding media calls about this. The Rev. Steven Baines, AU’s assistant field director for religious outreach, talked to several reporters.
It seems that one person’s information is another person’s intimidation.
Several weeks ago, Americans United sent 60,000 letters to houses of worship nationwide urging them not to endorse political candidates this election season. We didn’t do that because we were bored – we did it because we’ve seen an uptick in Religious Right efforts to enlist churches into partisan politics.
Yesterday I received some interesting mail from two residents of Colorado. Each envelope contained the same thing: a 20-page glossy publication produced by Ridgway Christian Center in Ridgway, Colo.
The publication features a calendar of upcoming ministry events and a list of conservative websites that the group recommends. But the most interesting thing about the publication is its cover: It’s a photo of a bunch of American flags headlined, “Honor God! Love your country! VOTE REPUBLICAN!”
Introductions are hard. I never know exactly what to share about myself upfront, so I’ll do my best to stick with the essentials. My name is Simon Brown, and I am the new communications associate at Americans United. I may be new to AU, but I’ve reported extensively on church electioneering for Tax Notes (it was my first story for that publication), so it’s fitting that my first blog post here is on this issue.
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.