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IRS Warns Pastors Over Political Activity

IRS Warns Pastors Over Political Activity

The IRS sent a warning letter to pastors attending the Faith Leaders Summit meeting in Washington over the weekend that certain political activities were drawing  close to threatening their tax-exempt status.

Pastors are free to endorse or oppose candidates, campaign for them, or make contributions to their campaigns so long as those activities are done individually and do not give the appearance that the activity is coming from the church. That alone should give the Catholic Bishops pause, though we know it won’t.

The warning comes as religious communities are upping the stakes in the battle over religious liberty in this country. Conservatives see individual free exercise rights as a trump to anti-discrimination and equality initiatives and are pressing the matter with the Obama administration.

Given the level of actual political activity coming from the pulpit these days the IRS should be putting faith communities on notice. If they want to organize and lobby, the way the Catholic Bishops have, then they need to give up their tax exempt status or risk corrupting both politics and faith beyond recognition.

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Photo from Gerry Dincher via flickr.

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127 comments

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10:38AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

YA AINT seen nothing yet.

8:04AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

It is about time the IRS did something useful. Now if they would drop financial contributions to churches from the list of allowable tax deductions.

4:30PM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

If churches want the government to stay out of their business, then the churches need to stay out of the governments business. If they want to get involved, then they can pay taxes.

6:38PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

@Ainsley - Good men do nothing because they closely follow the parable of "turn the other cheek", which is a Christian value, yet many of them do not follow that guideline. The reason many liberals have a close eye on, really, any religion is because history is full of atrocities caused by religion and dogmatic principles. I'm cautious of anyone, whether religious or non-religious, that abuses power for their own agenda, and then puts on a fake smile and says, "Hey, we're the good guys and know moral value better than you!" No thanks, I'll think for myself, thank you. ;-)

5:24PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

Ainsley, translation, the church has the right to break the law but the rest of us don't.

5:19PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

The christian church has a right to defend its christian teachings where these may be violated at the political level. As Edmund Burke once said something like this that evil persists because good men do nothing.

3:56PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

Enough with the threats. Start taxing these so-called 'churches' for what they really are: A Money Generating Machine.

3:54PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

Tim,
This isn't about your opinion on abortion or my opinion on abortion.
This is about Catholic doctrine and ITS stance on abortion.
Obama can not use religion in part to support political ideology while ignoring the religion in whole.
He shouldn't be using religion at all. Isn't that what liberals always say to republicans?

3:00PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

I can see the topic is going to go down the "abortion" road, thank you Elizabeth. There are countless posts on the topic, Elizabeth, take your pick from the many topics on women's civil rights issues. As for the rest of the liberal thinkers here, I'm sure you'll find a plethora of people you're going to disagree with, but hey, you're the one that walked into the lions den. As for me, I will not get drawn into another "abortion" is "killing" topic; it's a dead-end argument with a huge gray area full of a lot of disagreement. By all means, though, feel free to spout your religious babble all you want, Elizabeth. ;-)

2:41PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

lol Tim

So what does that mean? We can kill now, whomever, wherever, whenever, however?
I'm sure this is news to God.

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