Right-Wing Christian Power Grab

First, we find out that Bush used Faith Based Initiatives as a thinly veiled means of winning votes and rewarding supporters. Then, we discover the overt bias of the administration against non-Christian religious groups. Now, the Christian right wants to amend the tax code to allow religious organizations to actively coordinate with political parties:Bill to Allow Campaigning by Religious Organizations Back in House

On Jan. 4, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced H.R. 235, the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act of 2005. The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow religious congregations to support or oppose candidates for public office and conduct partisan campaign activities without losing their tax-exempt status, as long as the activity takes place in the context of a religious service or gathering. While narrower than previous proposals, the bill still unfairly favors religious organizations over other nonprofits and allows tax-deductible contributions to support partisan activities.

The bill is the latest in a series of attempts by Jones, who introduced the first version of the bill in June 2001 (The Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act or HOWPSPA). Congress has consistently rejected the proposal, which has been opposed by nonprofits, clergy and campaign finance reformers. Currently, tax law prohibits all religious, educational, charitable and other organizations exempt under section 501(C)(3) of the tax code from opposing or supporting candidates for office. H.R. 235 would change that for religious organizations.

H.R. 235 is narrower than earlier versions of the bill in that it limits the type of activities permitted, but it is more expansive in that there is no ceiling on the number of activities that could be permitted. Under H.R. 235, the permitted campaign-related activities would have to occur in the "content, preparation, or presentation of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious service or gatherings," but any amount of these activities could be conducted provided they were part of the presentation at a religious gathering. However, religious organizations would be precluded from making campaign contributions or paying for advertisements in newspapers.

Since this language would permit any activity that could be deemed part of a sermon or other presentation during a religious service, it allows for the express endorsement or opposition to a candidate for public office during a sermon. Religious leaders could request that contributions be made directly to the candidate's committee or other political organizations or even individual contributions of services to political campaigns. They could appeal to their congregations to vote for particular candidates.

This is not just a power grab by the right-wing over the left wing nationally, but it is also an attempt by the Christian right to consolidate power over the Republican Party and to force large donors to funnel their political donations through religious organizations. While right wing bloggers like Instapundit hold up strawmen as the face of the left, they seem gleefully oblivious to the rising domination of their own party (oh, that's right, Reynolds is an independent / libertarian, not a Republican) by the Christian right. He can blog about how opposing the war means you are a traitor all he wants, but even among his own peeps he is becoming an increasingly irrelevant liberal elitist.

Tags: Money (all tags)

Comments

5 Comments

If this passes...
Then it is time to form the DFA religion...Hell if an L. Ron Hubbard book can be turned into a religion, we can do that.  

Seriously, this is just sad.  

by yitbos96bb 2005-02-08 07:29AM | 0 recs
Gee, another special interest?
How surprising. Like a grain of sand being added to the pyramids of Egypt. Will politics ever be free of corporations, special interests, and PACs? Nah.
by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-02-08 07:34AM | 0 recs
Walter B. Jones Contact Information
Want to talk to Mr. Jones about his willingness to support theocracy?

Congressman Walter B. Jones
422 Cannon House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
Phone: 202 225-3415
Fax: 202 225-3286
Web: http://jones.house.gov/

by Screwy Hoolie 2005-02-08 07:42AM | 0 recs
In a Serious Vein
I do find this very dangerous, but I wonder what we would all be okay with religious leaders saying.

On Christmas Eve I was in a small church service, and it's pretty damn clear from what the priest said that he voted for Kerry.

He described the census that Herod was conducting as a product of "Roman imperialism"...not unlike our modern imperialsim, only now we did it in the name of freedom.

Or comments about tax cuts for the wealthy not being Christian values etc.

He didn't actually say that in order to be a Christian you had to have voted for Kerry, but the implication was clear, and it was part of the prophetic tradition.

So I am  scared about theocracy, but I'm also not clear how you could police the problem without having a bunch of IRS agents in the pews.

by Abby 2005-02-08 10:10AM | 0 recs
Not good for religion
Things are bad enough as it is. White evangelical Churches are already preaching the GOP gospel, and many black churches have preached the Democratic gospel for years.

In my town we have two Catholic Churches. They have now all but become the "red parish" and the "blue parish". One parish hears sermons on the evils of abortion and a need for greater personal morality, the other hears sermons about the need to help the poor and the immorality of preemptive war and the death penalty.

Letting Churches become openly involved in politics is like pouring gasoline on a fire. The flame may burn brighter should the Churches gain political power, but it will burn out more quickly as the faith becomes tarnished with the business of politics.

What conservatives, and unfortunately too many liberals, fail to understand is that the separation of Church and State is to protect the CHURCH, not the State. Religious life in the U.S. is alive and well. The State supported, politically involved, Churches in Europe are dying. Why would any person of faith prefer the latter to the former?

by wayward 2005-02-09 06:26PM | 0 recs

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