Eight years ago, the pastor at ALL SAINTS EPISCOPAL CHURCH, Pasadena, CA, preached a sermon against war. The sermon did not take a stand on anyone candidate for office and did not urge believers to support any political party. It generally espoused the Christian message of peace.
The INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE under George W Bush thought that antiwar preaching was politicking and subjected the Church to an exhaustive investigation while holding over its head the threat of the loss of its tax exemption. The IRS under Karl Rove knew how to deal with peaceniks in the pulpit.
During the election campaign of 2008, candidate Barack Obama was invited to a church to speak. No endorsement, no campaigning, just a “hi and how are ya”. The IRS cracked the whip and the church backed down.
Now over 1000 born-again pastors have conspired in advance to take today’s Sunday service to endorse Mitt Romney and other wacko Publicans in the upcoming election.
And what will the IRS do? Not a damn thing. The IRS has the guts to intimidate the occasional preacher of peace but is no match for the big guns of those who preach war, the hatred of gays, compulsory pregnancy, and the oppression of women while canonizing the billionaires.
The Born-Again Bullies, like their spiritual compatriots among the Islamists, don’t want to play by the rules unless they write the rules.
The deal has been that churches are allowed to be exempt from taxation because their activities are not involved in politics. If they cease to observe this nicety then there is no purpose to be served in being nice. If the Reverend Billy Beau Silvertongue wants to enter the political fray let him assume the burdens of politickin’ and pay his taxes. Taxpayers subsidize the tax-exempt by making up the difference leftover from clerical tax evasion.
If the Born-Agains get by with this then the rest of us should assume dog collars and withhold our taxes as well.