Let a liberal or progressive church or denomination just breathe about politics and the iron fist of the IRS comes down hard.
The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ's national offices in Cleveland, Ohio, that the IRS has opened an investigation into U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's address at the UCC's 2007 General Synod as the church engaging in "political activities."
In the IRS letter dated Feb. 20, the IRS said it was initiating a church tax inquiry "because reasonable belief exists that the United Church of Christ has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status."
The Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, called the investigation "disturbing" but said the investigation would reveal that the church did nothing improper or illegal.
Of course the UCC did nothing illegal and the IRS knows it. This is harassment, plain and simple. The IRS is investigating because it can. It will cost the UCC a lot of money that it could be using to do ministry, but now they'll have to defend themselves because they had a member of their denomination, who happens to be a politician, speak at their Synod.
This follows the investigation of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California after an anti-war sermon was given there. The IRS cleared All Saints, after much snooping and money wasted.
Jesus spent his ministry rubbing shoulders with tax collectors and other sinners. Perhaps the UCC can, in this encounter with the IRS, help to redeem the system. I pray they show God's grace and love to the tax collectors here.
But, the hypocrisy is maddening. As long as a church is preaching for the war and supporting the right-wing candidates they are safe. Breathe one word against Dear Leader or criticize his illegal war of choice and you'll find the black helicopters circling and men with dark suits at your door.
Progressives beware. The freedom of speech does not apply to you.