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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Keeping Church & State Separate: AU & Frank Page

Two interesting bits of news coming from religious liberty watchdog Americans United.

Americans United Asks the IRS to Investigate Church That Endorsed Obama
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a Nevada church whose pastor called for the election of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama from the pulpit on Sunday.

Obama spoke during services at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ in Las Vegas on Jan. 13 in what the Las Vegas Review-Journal described as a “surprise appearance.” Before the Illinois senator arrived, Pastor Leon Smith told the congregation, “The more he (Obama) speaks, the more he wins my confidence, and ... if the polls were open today, I would cast my vote for this senator.”

Smith added, “If you can’t support your own, you’re never going to get anywhere.... I want to see this man in office.”
Americans United Cautions Frank Page & the SBC
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has cautioned the top official of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that using his denominational news agency to oppose Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani raises federal tax law issues.

In a Jan. 24 letter, Americans United advised SBC President Frank Page that the Internal Revenue Code prohibits the use of tax-exempt resources to support or oppose candidates for public office.

Americans United acted after learning of a Jan. 21 analysis distributed by Baptist Press, the SBC’s official news agency. The analysis stated in part, “Page said he agrees with James Dobson of Focus on the Family that a united front against Giuliani is needed and that ‘evangelicals can realistically defeat him.’ Even a ticket with Giuliani on top and Huckabee for vice president ‘would be problematic for Dr. Dobson and myself,’ Page said.”
In case Frank didn't know (which is hard to believe), the Internal Revenue Code bars religious leaders from using their pulpits, newsletters or other official resources to advocate or oppose candidates. With all of these high-profile ministers and organizations who have endorsed Democratic and Republican candidates this election season, I wouldn't be surprised to see the IRS make an example of someone.

And how many more pastors on the political left does Americans United have to threaten or caution before those on the Right realize that AU isn't out to get just conservatives who violate federal tax law??? History speaks for itself. And AU has a history of going after those on the Right and Left, equally.

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Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Americans United is a great group and I belong, but it sometimes goes overboard. Neither Ebenezer Baptist Church, nor its pastor, Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, endorsed Obama or anyone else. They let him preach Sunday and then had both Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee in the ceremonies the following day.

Now, if AU wanted Abyssinian BC in Harlem, whose pastor DID endorse Hillary Clinton, investigated, that would be different.

8:05 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Ebenezer is not being investigated.

The press release that is posted is about a church Pentecostal church in Las Vegas where the pastor did a little more than just endorse.

9:43 AM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Oops! Sorry. I was in a hurry and just skimmed your entry. Sorry. In the words of Rosanne Rosannadanna, "Nevermind!'

7:53 PM


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