“W” stands for WRONG WRONG WRONG on the separation of church and state. The GOP wants the IRS to allow religious leaders to be able to make political endorsements from the pulpit. From The Hill.
Political pressure is building on a powerful House lawmaker to remove the so-called IRS “muzzle” that prevents religious leaders from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit.
Frustrated that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) essentially rejected House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s (R-Ill.) request in June to change the tax code on this issue, 131 House lawmakers are pressing the Speaker to act before the 108th Congress adjourns.
…Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie also wants to change the 50-year-old tax policy, which says that churches can lose their tax-exempt status if they participate in political speech.
Conservative religious groups, including the Christian Coalition and the Traditional Values Coalition, are lobbying heavily for the Jones bill. Concerned Women for America recently issued a legislative alert urging its members to “end this assault on religious freedom and free speech.”
In an interview last week, Jones said that the political momentum to enact his bill has increased dramatically over the summer. He said that groups including the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Mainstream Coalition have intensified their monitoring of churches. The Mainstream Coalition announced this summer that it is sending volunteers into local churches to make sure that religious officials are abiding by the law.
Meanwhile, Americans United this summer filed a complaint with the IRS against the Rev. Jerry Falwell for endorsing President Bush on his website.
Jones said that news articles on the IRS complaints have helped build support for his bill.
“We’re going to keep pushing,” Jones said, adding that his bill “has to” be attached to the must-pass corporate tax measure.
Critics of the Jones bill say that it is a thinly veiled attempt to mobilize the religious right before the election.
But Jones and other proponents of the bill say that the bill would enable both Republican and Democratic preachers to talk more freely about politics.
While this would equally free Democrat-leaning churches to do the same, it’s just WRONG. It’s called the separation of church and state.