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NC wingnut congressman submits bill to remove IRS restrictions on church campaigning

Walter B. Jones takes a bat to the wall between church and state.

Here’s a real “faith-based” initiative…what is happening in our country — the American Taliban theocracy is just around the corner. You can thank this bastard, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), for his legislative effort to obliterate the church-state line. He’s introduced something called the “Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act of 2005 (H.R. 235),” which would allow religious congregations to support or oppose candidates for public office and conduct partisan campaign activities without losing their tax-exempt status. (OMB Watch):

The bill is the latest in a series of attempts by Jones, who introduced the first version of the bill in June 2001 (The Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act or HOWPSPA). Congress has consistently rejected the proposal, which has been opposed by nonprofits, clergy and campaign finance reformers. Currently, tax law prohibits all religious, educational, charitable and other organizations exempt under section 501(C)(3) of the tax code from opposing or supporting candidates for office. H.R. 235 would change that for religious organizations.

H.R. 235 is narrower than earlier versions of the bill in that it limits the type of activities permitted, but it is more expansive in that there is no ceiling on the number of activities that could be permitted. Under H.R. 235, the permitted campaign-related activities would have to occur in the “content, preparation, or presentation of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious service or gatherings,� but any amount of these activities could be conducted provided they were part of the presentation at a religious gathering. However, religious organizations would be precluded from making campaign contributions or paying for advertisements in newspapers.

Since this language would permit any activity that could be deemed part of a sermon or other presentation during a religious service, it allows for the express endorsement or opposition to a candidate for public office during a sermon. Religious leaders could request that contributions be made directly to the candidate’s committee or other political organizations or even individual contributions of services to political campaigns. They could appeal to their congregations to vote for particular candidates.

…Current law protects the integrity of charitable nonprofits by preventing individuals from using tax-deductible contributions to avoid tax and legal restrictions that apply to political donations. It also prevents individuals from using charitable nonprofit organizations, which are, by definition, organized for public purposes, to advance their personal partisan political views. Supporters of the bill claim religious leaders are afraid to speak out on public issues. However, all 501(C)(3)s, including religious organizations, are allowed to engage in advocacy activities such as lobbying, public education campaigns, comment on public policy, and litigation.

This regulation exists to protect the integrity of the election process. The 501(C)(3)s receive a tax-exemption because their work is educational, religious or charitable. It is an acknowledgment that the organization performs an activity that relieves some burden that would otherwise fall to federal, state, or local government. Taxpayers should not be required to fund the political activities of tax-exempt organizations.

Let him have it:

Congressman Walter B. Jones

422 Cannon House Office Building

Washington DC 20515

Phone: 202 225-3415

Fax: 202 225-3286


Email: Webform

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding