2008 Battling Satan Will Repeal Your Tax Exemption
posted by June 24 at 13:42 PMon
You know a story is going to be good when it starts like this:
Bill Keller is a publicity-savvy televangelist with a penchant for politics who works out of the back room of a used-car lot.
Which seems like a pretty perfect mix: Not only can I be purified of my sins, but I can aquire get a gently-used 1991 Dodge Caravan, which will help me spread the message of our Lord and Savior.
But on to the point: During the Republican primary, Keller’s narrow view of scripture led him to make a comment about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith leading the former Massachusetts governor down the path to Satan. In fact, the direct quote left little to be parsed:
“A vote for Romney is a vote for Satan.”
Is implying that a presidential hopeful shares a ticket with Satan grounds for losing your tax exempt status? The New York Times reports that Keller is under investigation by the IRS for bringing his church into the realm of politics, a battle which Keller is welcoming. In fact, Keller and a conservative evangelical legal organization, the Alliance Defense Fund, are actually trying to goad the government into legal action against them:
The Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting 50 pastors to endorse candidates from the pulpit on September 28, hoping to provoke a legal challenge to the I.R.S. code.
“We’re asking pastors to make specific recommendations based on scripture as to how their congregations should vote,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund.
Mr. Stanley said the organization planned to send tapes of the sermons to the IRS, and then sue the agency for inhibiting free speech and the free exercise of religion when an investigation is opened.
Should the court challenge succeed, churches would be all but free to make the endorsements openly that they now crouch in subtext and loopholes. Feel free to draw your own real life parallels to the plot-line of the bestselling Left Behind series.