Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gus Booth and the IRS

According to OneNewsNow, Pastor Gus Booth of Warroad Community Church in Warroad, Minnesota, could be in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.

Booth preached a sermon encouraging his congregation to vote against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama when Clinton was still actively in the Democratic presidential race. He used scripture to outline why both candidates were out of line for supporting abortion and homosexuality.

According to an IRS tax guide churches, "…must not participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office…"

Why, then, is it apparently OK with the IRS for Rick Warren to have candidate Barack Obama actually speak in his church, but not OK for Gus Booth to preach on biblical issues and tie them to specific political candidates?

And why does the IRS persecute Gus Booth but ignore Jeremiah Wright for over 20 years?
Stanley Kurtz commented on Jeremiah Wright’s “Trumpet” magazine saying,
While the majority of Trumpet's articles weave radical politics into a religious framework, some are purely political. For example, the April 2006 issue features a column entitled "Demand Impeachment Now!" The author pointedly refuses to call
Bush "president," merely referring to him as the "resident" of the White House
(and therefore as "Resident Bush"). Another piece taunts Vice President Cheney
for his shooting accident and ends, "America, it's time for regime change."
Neither piece has so much as a religious veneer. (WeeklyStandard)

Before 1776 Britain used taxes as a means of squelching free speech. The IRS has been allowed to do the same thing today. Not only is this selective enforcement of the IRS code unconstitutional, but the part of the tax code that threatens churches is itself unconstitutional and needs to be repealed.


St.Lee said...

I knew that this tax exeption for churches was something relatively new (1954)but when I did a search to find the date it came into being, I came across this from ABC News:
"Churches and other non-profit groups like charities and universities do not have to pay taxes. That exemption, however, comes with a price. Churches, and by extension the pastors who serve them in an official capacity, are not allowed to endorse or oppose political candidates."

That statement putting Universities into the same tax exempt status as Churches and Charities, came as a bit of a shock to me. If this standard is really supposed to be in effect for universities, then this is perhaps the biggest case of selective enforcement and trampling of equal protection in the history of the world. Could anyone say with a straight face that university professors do not break this daily in their indoctrination of young people into the Democratic Party.

I thought that kind of preferential treatement was reserved for Liberal churches preaching the Democratic message.

Dennis said...

Excellent point, st. Lee. All accross American hundreds-of-thousands of college students have been brainwashed into the Democratic party by Leftist college professors and the IRS never utters a peep.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that they should censor college professors, but your point highlights how selective IRS enforcement seems to be.

Robert said...

...which is another reason why income tax is a sham. It's a means to controlling speech without violating the first amendment.

Nicole said...

Yes, lots of different types of nonprofits break this rule either knowingly or unknowingly all of the time. It simply isn't very enforcable unless what what the organization is teaching/preaching/supporting is reported and well known. In Rev. Booth's case, the IRS did not come after him, he went after them. He wrote a letter to a separation of church and state group and encouraged them to prompt the IRS to investigate. Had he not, his comments would have likely gone under the radar of the IRS just like they do in most cases. It seems he did this to bring light to the issue, and clearly in that regard he has succeeded.
As far as the comments about Rev. Wright, I'm sure if the IRS had been tipped off to the content of his sermons the story would have been the same. There had been a couple of "liberal" churches in the news around 2004 who were under investigation by the IRS, so you can rest assured that "conservative" churches are not being singled out. Regarding university professors, I'm not sure how the rule applies to them.