Monday, May 08, 2006


IRS Crackdown on Illegal Church Electioneering

Although charities such as churches are precluded from intervening in political campaigns, the IRS has seen a growth in the number and variety of allegations of such behavior, which has been accompanied by dramatic increases in money spent during political campaigns, according to an IRS report.

If left unaddressed, says the IRS, the potential for "charities, including churches, to be used as arms of political campaigns and parties will erode the public’s confidence in these institutions."

The IRS probe examined the activities of 132 non-profits from 2004 as part of its initiative. It reports that of that number, “fewer than half” were churches. In many of the cases, according to the IRS, significant violations of the law had occurred.

Prohibited activities included the distribution of fliers promoting certain candidates, candidate endorsements from pulpits, churches displaying candidate signs and churches improperly permitting candidates to seek votes during church appearances

IRS officials have said they plan to vigorously enforce the law during this election year.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has welcomed the IRS probe.

“This report should lay to rest Religious Right claims that houses of worship have a right to engage in partisan politicking,” says the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “They don’t, and any that ignore the law and do so anyway could face severe sanctions.”

Those of us who are fighting to Take Back Kansas from the religious right should be especially vigilant about political campaigning at houses of worship during the upcoming Kansas primary and general elections.


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