Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Go Sick 'em, IRS!

According to Mike Harden and Joe Hallett's article in yesterday's Columbus Dispatch, more than 30 Columbus area clergy have cosigned a letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson requesting that the IRS audit the World Harvest Church of Columbus and Fairfield Christian Church of Lancaster for violations of the Internal Revenue Code provisions that prohibit political activities by tax-exempt entities. The letter accuses the subjects of the complaints of, among other things, doing the political bidding of J. Kenneth Blackwell, Republican candidate for the Ohio governorship.

The letter was drafted with the help of attorney Marcus Owens, mentioned in this blog's postings of 9 November 2005 and 16 December 2005 as counsel for All Saint's Church in Pasadena, an organization with a decidedly leftward bent and which is currently undergoing the IRS's scrutiny. I personally do not know whether this is reflective of Owens's personal politics or whether it is just mercenary lawyering by one of the top in the legal specialty, nor does it particularly matter.

The World Harvest Church and other enterprises of Rev. Rod Parsley may wall have crossed the fuzzy blurry legal line between religion and politics. If so, then the church should be dealt with accordingly, to a degree commensurate with what would be meted out to a similarly behaving organization at the opposite end of the political spectrum.

The tax laws should be enforced, the taxpaying public ought not subsidize those tax-exempt organizations that do not comply with the requirements for their exemptions, and tax-exempt organizations ought not be used to manipulate money used in illegal activities (including but not limited to terrorism). Sometimes the IRS is the agency best suited to enforce the law, as, for example, the well known matter of gangster Al Capone, or the entree to the books of various organizations that support terrorism.

But sicking the IRS on one's adversaries is a double-edged sword. The IRS itself ought not get too politicized, and ought not be abused for individual politicians' political agendas (as the Kennedy administration, by several reputable and credible accounts, supposedly did).

I claim no familiarity with the individual and organizational situations of the particular 30+ clergy members who signed onto the letter, but I am not willing to bet that they and their respective congregations are all totally free of the politics taint.

And speaking of religion and politics, howcum the Reverend Parsley is criticized for acting upon his political views, but The Reverend Jesse Jackson and The Reverend Al Sharpton can freely comport themselves as candidates for public office?


  • At 19 January, 2006 23:19, Blogger J. A. Gillmartin said…

    You're right ... especially that last paragraph.

    I can't believe the public hypocrisy of the IRS when it comes to the left in this country.

    How many churches have entertained political events for Clinton and Gore.


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