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November 09, 2005

More complaining about IRS harassment of churches

From the LA Times...

Over the last year, the Internal Revenue Service has looked at more than 100 tax-exempt organizations across the country for allegations of promoting — either explicitly or implicitly — candidates on both ends of the political spectrum, according to the IRS. None have lost their nonprofit status, though investigations continue into about 60 of those.

The IRS denies any political motivation behind the initiative it started last year. The Treasury Department's inspector general found in February that there was some mismanagement of the investigations but no indication of them being used as a political cudgel to silence critics of the Bush administration.

However, the IRS action has triggered an unusual coalition of critics who say they are concerned about the effect on freedom of speech and religion.

When Ted Haggard, head of the 30-million-member National Assn. of Evangelicals, heard about the All Saints case Monday, he told his staff to contact the National Council of Churches, a more liberal group.

Haggard said he personally supports the war in Iraq and probably would not agree with much in the Rev. George Regas' 2004 sermon at All Saints, which was cited by the IRS as the basis for its investigation. But Haggard said he wants to work with the council of churches "in doing whatever it takes to get the IRS to stop" such actions.

"It is a violation of the Constitution for the IRS to threaten that church. It may not be a violation of IRS regulations, but IRS regulations have been wrong," said Haggard, who is pastor of the 12,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, cheered when he heard of Haggard's offer, which Edgar said represented a rare reaching out by the evangelical group to the council.

Funny quotes form the article include...

Existing law is adequate, as long as enforcement does not vary for churches with different ideologies...

Yet it's very clear that it does vary. Rarely is a Liberal church attacked by the IRS, in spite of blatant support for candidates (how many times has Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson and John Kerry spoken from the pulpits of Liberal churches, on Sunday morning, without the IRS even blinking an eye?)

Steven Miller, the IRS commissioner of tax-exempt and governmental entities, said there is nothing political about how cases are chosen.

LOL, right. Hope he brought a shovel when he dumped that load.

Previous coverage: Liberal church threatened by IRS for political sermon

Posted by Danny Carlton at November 9, 2005 05:28 AM

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