Friday, September 22, 2006

IRS pit bulls go after church

A church is under attack by the Bush administration for preaching an antiwar sermon. Internal Revenue is investigating and the church could lose it’s tax-exempt status. So far only one church has lost tax-exempt status as the result of such an investigation and they really had stepped over the line by taking out full page ads attacking the candidate of Bill Clinton.

Under tax exempt laws churches are allowed to speak about issues but not endorse candidates or parties. No one, however, disputes that the fundamentalists of America are practically an arm of the Republican Party. And they frequently go much further in their political stands than All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California.

What got this church in trouble? A sermon was preached “If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush.” Rev. George Regas preached that Jesus would not support the Iraq war or Bush’s doctrine bo pre-emptive war but he didn’t endorse any candidate.

Now considering how fundamentalist extremists continually preach about the need to deny gay couples of equal rights before the law one has to wonder if this selective enforcement in order to punish people for opposing King George.

The feds demanded church documents but the vestry of the church voted unanimously to refuse to comply. They said this is an infringement of rights and wish to take the matter to court. Bush’s pit bulls, the IRS, refuse to comment.

Of course Bush is also handing over hundreds of millions of taxpayer funds to fundamentalist churches in the name of supporting “faith-based services”. This is a direct violation of separation of church and state.

All Saints is the largest Episcopal church in the American west.

When Rev. Ed Bacon stood in the pulpit last Sunday he said: “I want to begin this sermon by once again expressing my gratitude to the Internal Revenue Service. Those brothers and sisters really know how to shine a spotlight on a church and swell the number of worshippers.” He got a standing ovation for that. I suspect the church will see lots of people joining it’s ranks.

They said that the IRS demanded documentation for every single time any official or candidate was mentioned from the pulpit over the last year. The church says this is a lot of paperwork as they pray for Bush publicly ever service (it’s not working, pray harder).

In contrast take the Rev. Lou Sheldon, a fanatical extremists who is constantly pushing legislation and praising Republicans while damning Democrats. The good Reverend recently endorse Bush’s call to legalise torture and announced that his “Traditional Values Coalition asked members of Congress to support President Bush’s reform of prisoner treatment policies....” He says that the government is hampered by legislation forbidding torture. Damn right. They are also hampered by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution --- though they pretty much ignore them. A search on his web site for his group shows hundreds of articles in support of Bush. Anyone want to guess if the IRS is investigating them? He claims to represent over 43,000 churches. Any one think those churches are being investigated?