Americans United for Separation of Church and State Wants IRS to Investigate Jeffress, FBD

Categories: Politics, Religion
FirstBaptistWebsite.jpg
From First Baptist Dallas's home page
Robert Jeffress endorsed Rick Perry Friday, but it's the gift that keeps on giving. As in: The Americans United for Separation of Church and State has sent a letter today to the Internal Revenue Service insisting that the First Baptist Dallas pastor's endorsement, and subsequent postings of videos to the First Baptist website, have violated federal election laws and put its tax-exempt status at risk. Writes Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, "Jeffress seems to be operating under the belief that he can post these endorsements as long as he includes some type of disclaimer." Which, far as Lynn is concerned, is nonsense.

The letter is part of a press release that adds this:
Lynn pointed out that an IRS publication called "Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations" warns churches and other nonprofits to be careful about what they post on their websites. The IRS states, "A web site is a form of communication. If an organization posts something on its web site that favors or opposes a candidate for public office, the organization will be treated the same as if it distributed printed material, oral statements or broadcasts that favored or opposed a candidate."

This isn't Jeffress' first brush with this issue. In 1998, while serving as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas, Jeffress checked out two books with gay themes from the local public library and refused to return them. He then urged members of his congregation to vote against city council members if they refused to ban the tomes. A local newspaper reported that Jeffress challenged his congregation to "vote out the infidels who would deny God and his word."
Read the letter here.

Update at 8:27 p.m.: This just in from Jeffress via his Facebook page:
Tomorrow morning at 7am CT, I'll be on NBC's Today Show talking about the marginalization of faith in the presidential campaign and the importance of understanding the relationship between a candidate's core religious beliefs and their ability to lead.
Well, that's what they told him, anyway. Tomorrow's lead-off item, in case you hadn't guessed.
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WW
WW

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. ..http://www.irs.gov/charities/c....

svg
svg

Of course it is illegal for the head of a church (being a 501c3 “charity”) to endorse a candidate. And, indeed, the IRS is investigating Mr. Wright’s church as we speak.

And what became of 'this' Obama supporter...

Church of Christ should lose its tax-exempt status, I think some folks around here need a refresher course in tax law. The first thing to understand is that the Internal Revenue Code is unclear (at best) at what constitutes impermissible participation in the political process by a 501(c)(3) entity. While churches may never provide direct financial or material support to any candidate or campaign, there is a good deal of grey area regarding almost everything else.A clergyman may endorse a candidate, even from the pulpit, as long as he or she makes it clear to the congregation (and particularly to agents of the U.S. Treasury Department) that he is speaking on his own behalf and that his views do not represent an official or unofficial endorsement by the congregation or its denomination.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

No, the man, minister or not, can PERSONALLY endorse Santa Claus, if he wants. Catch the difference here, fellas. If the CHURCH, the letterhead, the board of trustees, whatever ENDORSES, then they are in violation.

Casual Observer
Casual Observer

Not when they post the political ads supporting Prick Perry n their website.  501 (C) (3), for an IRS reg, is pretty simple reading.  Read it and weep FBC!  This will cost you millions for having a wacko pastor!

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Just another case of Obama, Eric Holder, the Justice Department, IRS, etc... etc... etc... practicing selective law inforcement. Remember, this is the same group that defined white males, veterans, and those who believe in the 2nd ammendment terrorists and defined Bin Laden and his murders as criminals. I find it interesting that organized labor can can give millions to candidates, picket, march on wall street, declare conservatives as racists, and support the candidate of their choice...they don't taxes (they are exempt). So once again, let's go after the white racist, who happens to be a minister... because it's the 'right' thing to do. When the ACLU wanted to remove religious items from Federal Lands,,, was the 'right' thing to do? If it is... go dig up Arlington Cemetary. I'm sure JFK, Thurgood Marshal, Joe Lewis, Cpl. Frank Buckles, and Lt. Audie Murphy and their families would all 'understand'!

Casual Observer
Casual Observer

The 503 (C) )(3) regs governing the non-profit status have been out there for everyone to read for many years.  The regs clearly state if you use your non-profit to advance a plotical agenda, you can loose it.  Surprise!  It has nothing to do with Obama, Holder or anyone else currently in office.  What a load of crap to blame someone else when FBC has clearly violated the law!

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

At the VERY least...they should be taxed for being annoying.  I mean, I have had to pay a lot of taxes for it.

Cyclecog
Cyclecog

So christians can't have an opinion?  He is not calling for the establishment of the Babtist religion, this will go no where.  Typical observer peice; oh by the way, this liberal president has worked out great!

Wes Scott
Wes Scott

Cyclecog, are you reading comprehension challenged? The issue is not about Christians having the right to have or express an opinion. I think most of us recognize that inalienable right as codified in our Bill of Rights. The issue is a leader of a church that enjoys an IRS 501 (c) (3) designation violating the legal limitations on what it can do as an organization pursuant to its having tax-exempt status.

Jeffress clearly violated the law, and the IRS should come down on him and his church like stink on dog shit. What Jeffress did was wrong. He is supposed to be a moral leader in the community. Instead, he flagrantly violates the law to promote his own personal dogma.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

Probably better than a McCain/Palin administration. 

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Sure they can have opinions. Everywhere I go I seem to run into the ridiculous opinions of some *Good Christian* like Jeffress.

Can't seem to get away from them.

BTW, what the hell is a "Babtist", do ya'll worship Barbara Streisand?

jibba jabba
jibba jabba

funny, i gotta admit... check that with bob..

Sybil
Sybil

Well, I'm guessing Jeffress just LOVES Barbra.

Casual Observer
Casual Observer

In my opinion, FBC did violate its non-profit status and it should be withdrawn.  Just read the IRS  501 (C). (3). regs.  It says it in very plain language the activities that a non-profit can and cannot endorse.

WW
WW

11th COMMANDMENT :

Thou shall not piss the IRS off..

Paul
Paul

I'd just as soon welch on a loan from "Vinnie" than mess with the IRS.

Uncle Scrappy
Uncle Scrappy

The IRS needs to revoke the church's tax status & then start sending them bills. After they refuse to pay, then they need to move to SIEZE their property. Take the offensive & let them file a lawsuit. I sincerly believe the IRS will win.

Our country is quickly turning into nothing more than a Christian Terrorist Society. These Christian Zealot groups are no better than the Muslim Terrorist groups. If we are not careful we will be involved in WW III and it will be a religious war between christianity & muslims. In the end we will all lose as we have in most every war.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Keep talkin' Rev. Obama needs to be re-elected, and you are definitely helping.

Drtyoldmn
Drtyoldmn

As an Agnostic who leans heavily Atheist and a very strong believer in keeping religion out of government, I think insisting that the IRS investigate the tax-exempt status of FBC is an absurd publicity stunt and waste of time and resources.  It won't go anywhere and will just give Jeffress what he desires most...even more attention.FBC is no different than most other churches of any denomination; it just has a bigger and more publicity-savvy mouthpiece.If the IRS goes after FBC, then they'll need to go after countless others.  That might be O-K, but be consistent, and don't single out one simply due to the size of his megaphone.Maybe churches that take in a certain amount of income should pay some sort of tax; that would partially resolve the tax-exempt issue anyway!

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

"... Jeffress checked out two books with gay themes from the local public library and refused to return them."

Now that is creepy.

Rangers100
Rangers100

This was before the internet. He doesn't have to steal his homoerotic material from the library anymore.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

Wouldn't you love to see his internet history.....or maybe not??

Mike
Mike

How do we explain all the reverends in South Dallas that routinely get paid off by political campaigns, most recently by our current mayor?

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

Mike...I agree..it should be cross the board........I am even more pissed at black churches as they tend to be even more homophobic than the likes of Roberta Jeffress.

FabFranTX
FabFranTX

Exactly!  It is okay for churches to endorse and openly campaign for Democrat candidates - and yes they do it during church services - but not for Republican.  Hello - hypocritical!  They give time to candidates during their services and openly ask for support for the candidate from their pulpit.  

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

Where have you seen any of them invoke their Church names in any endorsement.I am against paying for any endorsement,however it does not keep a Pastor from his personal support of a candidate.To use First Baptist Web site is another story. For any Pastor to use his Church body is not right.I know many people who attend First Baptist that do not feel the way Pastor Jeffress does.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I'm not sure the pastor has to "invoke their church's name" to violate the prohibition.  Simply standing inside the church, endorsing a candidate from the pulpit, and introducing the candidate to the congregation with a hearty hand-shake and/or a hug and big smile should do the trick.  And why shouldn't the pastor be smiling-- since he just collected a big check from the candidate in question.

Mike
Mike

What was Mike Rawlings paying cash for if not invoking their position in a church in advocating a candidate? Nobody actually believes these pastors on the payroll know anything about municipal government. Religious leaders in Dallas on both sides are knee deep in the political muck.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Nothing would give me more joy than watching Jeffers squirm in front of government lawyers trying to explain his way out this mess...

Drtyoldmn
Drtyoldmn

The problem is he won't be squirming; he would LOVE it.  He knows the gov't wouldn't dare "persecute" his church by denying it tax-exemption, yet the gov't provides him an even higher profile soapbox.  That nets him another audience, strengthens him among evangelicals, likely expands his reach, and casts the gov't as attempting to muzzle a devout Man of God.If by some miracle, the gov't prevails, then he's a martyr and evangelical folk-hero.It's a win-win-win-win-win for him...The only way he would be squirming is if the experience causes him to publicly ejaculate in his pants.  

Phelps
Phelps

I'm a Perry supporter, but I'm cool with this.  There's a LOT of churches that need to lose their tax exemption, along with a lot of "charities" and 501c corps.

Paul
Paul

Good.  Don't cross that line, Pastor.  We will make sure you don't.  You and your ilk make Dallas look like a backwater town in the 21st century.

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