Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sleep well -- CREW is on alert again

Posted by Craig Westover | 5:57 AM |  

Mark W. Everson, the commissioner of the I.R.S., has repeatedly warned that the agency will crack down on religious organizations that violate laws barring charities of any type from involvement in partisan political activities.

This election cycle, additional accusations of such violations have been made against religious organizations in California, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio.
The New York Times is reporting today that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has set it’s sites on Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, a Republican, for writing a memo directing members of his campaign staff to recruit churches to distribute campaign literature and serve as the sites for events.
“This is the top law enforcement official in the state who is encouraging everyone to break the law,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group. “He’s either abysmally unfamiliar with the law, or he’s deliberately violating it.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) also filed a complaint with the I.R.S. last week against the Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minn., accusing its senior pastor, Mac Hammond of violating the law by stating he, personally, would vote for Michele Bachmann in the 6th Congressional District.

“From what we know, the I.R.S. has gone after liberal organizations primarily, the N.A.A.C.P. and the liberal church in California,” Ms. Sloan told the Times, referring to the inquiry into All Saints Church of Pasedena, which was cited because the pastor gave an anti-war sermon on the eve of the 2004 election critical of the war in Iraq nad the Bush tax cuts. An I.R.S. investigation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was closed with no finding of wrongdoing according to the Times.

A conservative might be tempted to point a finger at Sloan and CREW as partisan hacks just out after conservative organizations, but fortunately, judging by the comment threads on this site, conservatives get it – this is not a conservative/liberal issue.

If indeed the IRS is systematically only going after liberal organizations for political advantage, all the more reason the IRS should not be the final arbiter of what is or is not proper activity for a church or charitable organization. Our friends on the left don’t seem to recognize the inherent contradiction in holding that government determining what is the proper sphere of religion is a separation of church and state. In logical fact, it is the opposite.

What's next -- going after chartiable organizations that use contributions to support political activities like smoking bans?