A Stupid Mess O’ God
Earlier this year, I wrote a Last Days item (scroll down to Sunday) about the great experience I had at Pasadena’s All Saints Episcopal Church, whose services I’d attended while becoming godfather to my best friend’s baby.
Turns out I’m not the only one fascinated with All Saints—the Los Angeles Times reports the church recently received a warning from the IRS, threatening to revoke All Saints tax-exempt status over an anti-war sermon delivered two days before the 2004 presidential election.
At issue is the federal tax code prohibiting tax-exempt organizations from intervening in elections. In 1992, a Binghamton, NY church lost its tax-exempt status for running ads denouncing Clinton. But creating and disseminating anti-candidate ads is a far cry from what All Saints is being investigated for.
As the LA Times reports, the sermon in question—delivered by the church’s former rector Rev. George F.Regas—“imagined how Jesus would admonish Bush and Kerry if he debated them. Regas never urged parishioners to vote for one candidate over the other, but he did say that he believes Jesus would oppose the war in Iraq….In the sermon, Regas said, ‘President Bush has led us into war with Iraq as a response to terrorism. Yet I believe Jesus would say to Bush and Kerry: “War is itself the most extreme form of terrorism.’”
All Saints reps are taking the high road, expressing hope that the IRS will see the error of its ways and rejecting a plea deal that would’ve given then church a “get out of an IRS investigation free” card if the church admitted to interfering in an election.
And so the investigation continues. Here’s hoping someone somewhere along the line points out the hideous hilarity of a government agency that takes “anti-war” as a direct translation of “anti-Bush.”