Saturday, November 18, 2006
Partisan Politics In the Pulpit ... Or Not?????
From an article in today's L.A. Times ... reviewing the IRS v. All Saints Church and previewing "The War, the Pulpit and the Right to Preach" -- the interfaith conference being held at All Saints tomorrow.
[L.A. Times November 18, 2006]
So what exactly did a priest say to get a Pasadena church in trouble with the IRS?
The federal agency has launched an investigation into the activities of All Saints Episcopal Church, asking whether a sermon by a former rector before the 2004 presidential campaign constituted campaigning. As tax-exempt organizations, churches are barred from campaigning for candidates. The sermon, delivered Oct. 31, 2004, by the Rev. George F. Regas, was framed as a debate involving Jesus, President Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.
In September, the church announced that it would not comply with an IRS summons demanding that All Saints turn over materials with political references, such as sermons and newsletters, produced during the 2004 election year. The current rector, the Rev. Ed Bacon, did not obey a summons that ordered him to testify before IRS investigators.
The church continues to set a defiant tone. On Sunday, All Saints will sponsor a conference called "The War, the Pulpit and the Right to Preach." It will include workshops on conflict resolution, tax law and "Prophetic Traditions and Free Speech." Regas and Bacon are scheduled to speak.But did Regas' speech violate federal laws?
The answer, mostly likely to come from the courts, hinges on how one defines campaigning and interprets his remarks. An extended excerpt from the sermon appears below. It represents about a third of the text. The complete address can be found here