Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Why won't the NYT tell us the name of the group?

Followup on an earlier post.

WAYNESVILLE, N.C., May 10 (AP) - A Baptist preacher who was accused of forcing nine members to leave his church because they refused to support President Bush said on Tuesday that he was stepping down.
Mr. Chandler's resignation, at a meeting open only to members of the congregation, came a day after a national group that lobbies for church-state separation urged the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the tax-exempt status of the church.
What national group? And why isn't it labeled left-wing. NYT is liberal in using the label right-wing.

I.R.S. rules bar clear-cut politicking by tax-exempt groups. In October, days before Mr. Bush won a second term, the agency said it was investigating roughly 60 charities and other tax-exempt groups - about a third of them churches - for potentially breaking rules that bar them from political activity.
Is this what the founders had in mind for the separation of church and state? We may find Mr. Chandler to be unsavory, but why can't free associations of people of faith mix politics and religion? If true faith is about your whole, then the IRS is persecuting religion.

The behavior of liberal churches crossing the IRS test for politicing my conjecture is that is because liberal churches do compartmentalise faith - and lose elections as a result.

There is a real problem, which is that non-religious groups may masquerade as religion to claim tax-exempt status. That is a legitimate concern of abuse that the IRS must pursue. But it seems clear that in the case of Mr. Chandler's church that's not what we have.

If you say Mr. Chandler's church ought to be investigated by the IRS, then it should have investigate St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in the 1960s. See my earlier post on that church.

Here's a story that reveals that it is Americans United for Separation of Church and State that wants the IRS to investigate. I wonder if they are a 501(c)3.

1 comment:

Scott of Hybla said...

It seems to me, the clergy and congregation of St. Aidan's has always encouraged and had a diversity of views on things. That is why we experienced strain during the Viet Nam War era, as did most churches and communities across the country. I believe support of a particular political candidate was never a basis for membership or exclusion at St. Aidan's. For that matter, expression of faith at St. Aidans has never been limited to politics as far as I can recall. And very few sermons strike me as any more political than those at other churches I've visited.

I recall a parishioner tell our (former) priest after a service, "I didn't like your sermon today." The priest encouragingly responded, "Good, good!"