Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The recently disclosed IRS investigation of All Saints Church in Pasadena sounds an alarm for everyone who values religious freedom and respects the importance of a free pulpit.
Rev. Dr. George Regas did not cross the line into impermissible electioneering when he preached at All Saints Church in October of 2004 on the moral issues facing the nation and then illustrated his points by means of an imagined dialogue among Jesus, Sen. John F. Kerry, and President George W. Bush. Dr. Regas said several times during his sermon that he was not urging his hearers to vote for any particular candidate, and he added that people of good faith could vote for either candidate.
We believe that the IRS challenge to All Saints offends settled notions about proper relations between church and state in American society. It also raises important questions about how much latitude IRS field offices have been given to initiate challenges based on second-hand press reports and using murky criteria as to what constitutes electioneering. We respectfully ask the IRS to stop its proceedings against All Saints with no requirement that All Saints make any admission of wrongdoing.
(Thanks to Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.) for the tip.)