Wednesday, February 27, 2008

IRS Investigates United Church of Christ for Obama Speech

The Bush Internal Revenue Service has opened an investigation into the tax exempt status of the United Church of Christ for hosting a speech by Senator Barack Obama at its General Synod in Hartford, Connecticut last June. The story has already hit major news outlets, including The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, ABC News, and MSNBC.

This is yet another outrageous abuse of power by a government agency under the Bush/Cheney administration. As a press release issued today by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State makes clear, there is no merit to this investigation because there was no endorsement of the senator's presidential candidacy. Obama is simply a high ranking public official who happens to be a member of a UCC congregation in Chicago.

The IRS under the current admiinistration seems to be highly selective in which complaints about church involvement in politics it chooses to investigate. Even though I've searched and searched, I can find no evidence, for example, that the IRS has actually pursued an investigation into Columbus' World Harvest Church Pastor Rod Parsley's questionable activities during the 2004 Ohio election campaign. This despite a complaint filed over two years ago by 31 Ohio clergy. I posted a story on Parsley's reaction to the complaint on March 8, 2006. It doesn't seem as funny now as it did then.

I say that because, in the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are also members of a UCC congregation, and, while our church has certainly never endorsed a candidate, we do, well within the law, take positions on public issues based on scriptural principles.

Meanwhile, Pastor Parsley is still at it. I invite you to see and hear him in all his glorious sophistry right here.


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