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Sun Nov 4, 2012, 10:40 AM

Political Activity By Religious Groups Continues Unchallenged As IRS Not Enforcing Rules

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/03/political-activity-religious-groups_n_2069128.html

By RACHEL ZOLL 11/03/12 12:51 PM ET EDT

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NEW YORK -- For the past three years, the Internal Revenue Service hasn't been investigating complaints of partisan political activity by churches, leaving religious groups who make direct or thinly veiled endorsements of political candidates unchallenged.

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.

Dean Patterson, an IRS spokesman in Washington, said Renwicks, who examines large tax-exempt groups, "misspoke." Patterson would not provide any specifics beyond saying that "the IRS continues to run a balanced program that follows up on potential noncompliance."

However, 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.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 10:47 AM

1. What is it about people not understanding history and thinking things through

Historically, black churches have been the soul of the community and the focal point for raising political fervor and funds. It has been that way for generations. If you want to go after the fundies for political activities, you will also be taking on the black churches and community which were politicking well before Billy Graham and some catholic bishops. Think about how President Clinton spoke at black churches...it is not like he was guest preacher giving a sermon.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 11:01 AM

2. The difference here is the distinction between causes and candidates.

Churches are clearly permitted to advocate for causes, and I am on the side of that, and their tax exemptions, continuing.

However, advocating for specific candidates is not, and should not be, permitted, imo. This is what the IRS if ignoring, despite some really "in your face" challenges from some fundamentalist churches.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 12:19 PM

3. In the black churches it is and was both...I witnessed it for many years

Its not new and not just at "some fundamentalist churches". It is and was pandemic throughout the black community. Be careful what you wish for in terms of IRS involvement

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 12:26 PM

4. I realize that. It's many churches, including some very progressive ones,

like All Saints in Pasadena.

My point was that there was an organized challenge to the current law by a group of fundamentalist churches this season, which has been ignored by the IRS so far.

My position on this is that churches should be held to the same rules as any other non-profits - support causes but not candidates. That's a reasonable rule, imo. Those that say that churches should be treated differently (specifically that they should be prohibited from any political activity or lose their tax status), I disagree with strongly.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 12:29 PM

5. The only difference is that the challenge is being vocalized and not being done as business as usual

If the IRS steps in, the black churches will be hit harder than other groups if done fairly. Be careful what you wish for.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 12:34 PM

6. You know, I think we are totally on the same side here.

I'm not sure what you think I am wishing for.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 12:49 PM

7. Mitt Romney's Hidden Agenda (and the agenda of the "Religious Right")

Last edited Wed Nov 7, 2012, 01:21 PM - Edit history (1)

Mitt Romney's hidden agenda caters to the theocratic "religious right," which is wrong not only because it violates the U.S. Constitution but because it also violates the intent of Jesus of Nazareth.

Romney's political agenda is also hypocritical, and it perpetuates Reaganism, Bushism, and Neo-Conservatism, as well as the global agenda of the extreme right-wing Project for a New American Century (PNAC).

Gradually since Mitt Romney became the Republican candidate for president, the media has underplayed the issue of religion, and many people have gotten the idea that it is no longer an issue. But the fact is that the commercial network media has simply ignored it.

Actually, Mitt Romney has consistently catered and appealed to the “Religious Christian Right” and their theocratic Dominionist theology, and Romney has enabled them to continue damaging the precious Jeffersonian “wall of separation between church and state.”

However, Romney betrays that ideal not merely by his public statements appealing to the "religious right." At heart, as a Bishop of the Mormon Church --- which is driven by evangelical missionary zeal --- Romney wants to elevate his church in the tradition of its theocratic founder, Joseph Smith, who campaigned in 1844 for the United States presidency. Therefore, in both his public statements appealing to the "religious" right and in the religious part of his own hidden agenda, Romney violates the religious freedom clauses in the Constitution that were designed not only to establish freedom of religion, but freedom from Theocrats and religious pluralism and equality (Article 6 and the 1st Amendment). .

That’s why Americans need to read to words of Thomas Jefferson, who in speaking for the vast majority of his fellow Founders, said:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State." – Thomas Jefferson


An article revealing Quotes From the Founding Fathers Regarding Religion, and an article on Why the "Religious Right" Is Wrong, thoroughly expose Romney and the "Religious Right."
---

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Response to SarahM32 (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 12:52 PM

8. Interesting site and articles,

though a little too meaty for my Sunday morning mush head.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #8)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 01:24 PM

9. "Meaty" is right.

It is a very thorough, comprehensive message that leaves no stone unturned.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 02:39 PM

10. "direct or thinly veiled endorsements of political candidates"

That would seem to be a standard that could be defined in IRS terms and passed down the chain of command to address complaints. And the 2009 federal court ruling seems pretty straightforward.

My guess is that the separation of church / state, or for that matter separation of non-profits / state, are simply given low priority and resources in regards political endorsements.

A standard and follow up would be good.

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Response to pinto (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 02:47 PM

11. I think the IRS either needs to get the rules changed or enforce the rules that are in place.

We are talking about some mega-churches who recently spit in the eye of the IRS. Seems like it would pay for itself rather quickly.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 03:02 PM

12. Good points. Some of those mega-churches are basically tax excempt investments it seems.

Yet I don't see the IRS taking definite financial steps. Though they should. Agree, it's their responsibility.

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