Saturday, August 26, 2006
Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal: The Taxman Goes to Church: Why Is the IRS in the Business of Reading Sermons?:
The new crackdown, which the IRS calls the Political Activity Compliance Initiative, has so far put some 15,000 nonprofits--mostly churches--on notice that preaching politics puts them at risk of audits, fines or, in some cases, the loss of tax-exempt status. The IRS has also announced it will no longer wait for complaints to come in, but will instead take action "to prevent violations." It will be reviewing the content of sermons, it says, as well as the financial books of religious organizations. The free exercise of religion could now come with a hefty bill....
North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones wants to get the IRS out of the business of policing religious speech. His proposed legislation to do just that has been stalled for six years, but he hopes that the federal agency's latest initiative--and the experience of Mr. Regas in Pasadena and thousands like him on both sides of the political spectrum--will break the political logjam. He told us that he considers efforts to control what is said from the pulpit to be "antidemocratic." Amen to that.