Stripping the Churches
A man from Chicago, Illinois, is petitioning the White House to force the IRS to strip churches and other religious institutions of their tax exempt status if they are violating the law by mixing religion and politics. The petition, which has already met the initial threshold required to move forward, needs about 4400 more signatures before the White House is obligated to review and respond.
Currently, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the IRS for the same purpose, citing Billy Graham's endorsement of Mitt Romney as but one example of thousands of violations.
IRS Publication 1828 lays out clear ground rules for churches about endorsing specific candidates or ballot initiatives. While churches are free to advocate social issues, they can not recommend a specific candidate or tell people how to vote. Given the flap in the recent election about the "war on religion", it is understandable that the Justice Department or the IRS would not place a high
priority on enforcing this.
But the question remains about the involvement of churches with the political system. I am a big fan of the First Amendment. But I also realize that politicians can do things that have religious implications. So where do we draw the line? And do we draw it with blood or chalk?