Church Politics

are under investigation in Ohio. Via the WaPo:

In a challenge to the ethics of conservative Ohio religious leaders and the fairness of the Internal Revenue Service, a group of 56 clergy members contends that two churches have gone too far in supporting a Republican candidate for governor.

Two complaints filed with the tax agency say that the large Columbus area churches, active in President Bush's narrow Ohio win in 2004, violated their tax-exempt status by pushing the candidacy of J. Kenneth Blackwell, who is the secretary of state and the favored candidate of Ohio's religious right.

The clergy members said the churches improperly held political activities and allowed Republican organizations to use their facilities.

The goal of the challenge is "for these churches to stop acting like electioneering organizations," said the Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of North Congregational United Church of Christ.
It's nice to see that moderate and liberal Christians are starting to notice that these Hard Right nut-jobs are starting to damage their brand. That doesn't stop the Christianists from trotting out shoddy arguments that their rights are being infringed upon.
IRS rules specify that charities that are granted a tax exemption because they serve the public may not "participate in or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

Enforcement does not infringe on First Amendment rights to free speech, the Supreme Court has ruled, because the issue is not whether an organization's members can speak freely, but whether the government will subsidize its activities through a tax exemption.
Seems pretty clear, but as we've seen in the past, these Christianists think that certain rules don't apply to them. So never mind that they're breaking the law. 'We're doing God's work.' Oh, and then there's the 'Persecuted Christian' meme.
A World Harvest Church member called the criticism a "smear tactic" and dismissed media attention as "a desperate attempt to destroy men of God."
I'll be so glad when I don't have to hear about how Christians are the most persecuted people ever to walk the earth. If you listened to these people, you'd think that people were rounding up Christians and feeding them to lions or something...

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