Tag Archives: tax exempt

Quietly, House Redefines Churches So They Can Get Direct Tax Dollars

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church being builtLast week the US House of Representatives quietly passed an amendment to the Hurricane Sandy relief act that redefined churches so they could be given federal tax dollars directly to rebuild. Not only were churches redefined but they were moved into the group that will automatically qualify for federal disaster aid. Both points are extremely outside how churches are treated with regard to federal tax dollars and is a gross violation of the separation of church and state.
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Pro-Life Website Walks A Fine Line Between Church And State

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image showing Wall between Church and StateA Google alert caught my eye on Sunday. It was to a post on a website called LifeNews.com and it was titled “Liberals Are Trying to Intimidate Your Church This Election”. So of course I had to read about this very important issue. The post basically was the standard conservative scare post. Naturally none of their information was correct. What I did find interesting was links to two voter guides. I didn’t know that a church was so concerned with obviously non-religious issues like energy, Voter ID, and Iran.
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Rev Johnson sent Blackwell video link to church staff

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I had an e-mail land in my box today that could be one of the smoking guns that proves Rev. Russell Johnson of the Fairfield Christian Church and Ohio Restoration Project is electioneering for Ken Blackwell, who is running for Governor and hopes to be the Republican nominee this fall.

To refresh your memory, Johnson and Rev Rod Parsley, pastor of the World Harvest Church, had a complaint filed against them with the Internal Revenue Service, by 31 other Central Ohio pastors. The complaint alleges that Johnson and Parsley, through their churches and the Ohio Restoration Project, have endorsed and provided direct support for the Blackwell campaign in violation of their non-profit status. The IRS is investigating.

For more on the complaint see these past posts:

New Orleans Mayor says God is mad and some clergy complain about church politicking

Blackwell, Johnson, Parsley hit back at IRS complaint

Rev. Rod Parsley comes outside his lush estate to give his side in IRS electioneering complaint

Ken Blackwell had 27 contacts with Revs Johnson and Parsley in past 2 years

The e-mail I got today is an e-mail train that had Rev Johnson sending a link to a Blackwell campaign video to his church e-mail list and to the staff at Fairfield Christian Church.

Here is the text of Johnson’s e-mail:


Life, Marriage, and Traditional Family Values are not Republican or Democratic Issues… these are Biblical Issues. Below is a web link that needs 2.42 minutes. I pray that in the days to come there will be Democrats and Republicans who will lead with the caliber of courage and the depth of conviction about standing for the truth of God in the public square. Pray that ministers and Christians in America will repent of cowardice in the face of the enemy by allowing our nation to be taken hostage to secular myths. Pray with me that the Body of Christ will get a backbone in our lifetime and stand for what the Bible teaches as important.

In His Service, Russell

The web link he included in an otherwise neutral e-mail note was a note from Jeff Ledbetter, who is fund-raising coordinator for Blackwell’s campaign.

Ledbetter’s note specifically acknowledges the fine line being walked by sending an e-mail to Johnson. Ledbetter writes:

Russell / Bill ­

We are in the final stretch, as you well know. We are also on the verge of history and it feels really good. But today isn’t the time to rest, even if it is Good Friday.

I am writing to you as private citizens, away from your responsibilities at Fairfield Christian and the Ohio Restoration Project.

Below I have copied a sample message that contains a link to a 2½ minute video on Ken and his issues. Perhaps you have already received the link and watched the video. I think it is very good.

We need to get this video out into circulation. Just as with the DVDs, this video helps people understand who Ken Blackwell is. While you can’t use the Patriot Pastors list to circulate it, I am hopeful you will use your personal network to get it around.

Thanks for your continued prayers and steadfast support.

Jeff Ledbetter
Ohioans for Blackwell

Unfortunately, Johnson’s personal network seemed to be his church and staff. If he wanted to keep his political endorsement separate from his church he should not have sent it to the staff, used a church e-mail address, or included Ledbetter’s e-mail.

Sure he could come back and say that he never mentioned Blackwell by name – but such an argument would be a lame attempt since he included the entire note from Ledbetter and the video is a Blackwell campaign video. The subject of the note says “FW: Blackwell video”. In case your are interested in seeing it here is the link: Blackwell video

Basically it is an appeal to people of faith to vote for Blackwell.

The person who sent me the e-mail also sent it to some press outlets so we’ll see if the story pops up in media here in central Ohio.

Update 4/19/2006

The Columbus Dispatch ran a story about the e-mail on the front page today. It claimed two experts said the note from the Blackwell campaign was worded to keep Johnson from getting into more trouble with the IRS. One of those experts was from the The Rutherford Institute – which is a conservative group.

IRS Finds Churches and Charities Overstep Into Politics

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In a report from the AP, the Internal Revenue Service announced the results of investigations of churches and other charities who may have violated their non-profit status by getting too involved in the 2004 election.

IRS exams found nearly 3 out of 4 churches, charities and other civic groups suspected of having violated restraints on political activity in the 2004 election actually did so, the agency said Friday.

Most of the examinations that have concluded found only a single, isolated incidence of prohibited campaign activity.

The IRS examined 110 organizations referred to the tax agency for potentially violations, and 28 cases remain open.

Among the 82 closed cases, the IRS found prohibited politicking and sent a written warning to 55 organizations and assessed a penalty tax against one group. Those organizations included 37 churches and 19 other organizations.

Among the prohibited activities, the examiners found that charities and churches had distributed printed material supporting a preferred candidate and assembled improper voter guides or candidate ratings.

Religious leaders had used the pulpit to endorse or oppose a particular candidate, and some groups had shown preferential treatment to candidates by letting them speak at functions.

Other charities and churches had made improper cash contributions to a candidate’s political campaign.

The IRS said the cases covered “the full spectrum” of political viewpoints.

IRS Finds Charities Overstep Into Politics

The report also noted that the cases it investigated were a “tiny fraction of more than 1 million tax-exempt organizations organized under section 501(c)(3) of the tax law.”

In looking at the full report, it is interesting that of the 82 cases closed, warnings were sent to more churches under review than non-churches. 34 church cases got a warning while only 19 non-church cases got a warning.

The types of churches and political view points were not disclosed.

The full report from the IRS can be found here:

IRS Reports on Political Campaign Intervention Initiative

Rev. Rod Parsley comes outside his lush estate to give his side in IRS electioneering complaint

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image of Rev. Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church in Ohio
Rev. Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church in Ohio

I guess the PR people at World Harvest Church were a bit upset at all the face time fellow electioneering minister Rev. Russell Johnson, senior pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster, was getting over the IRS complaint filed by clergy from 31 denominations this week. Rev. Rod Parsley, the founder and senior pastor of World Harvest, and television heart throb to shut-ins, came outside his lush estate in Canal Winchester, to speak to the unwashed of the media. A PR flack had previously made comments about the complaint.
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