Monday, May 19, 2008

Witherspoon Society Invites IRS Correction

I hope the Witherspoon Society realizes that its latest Network News puts its nonprofit status in jeopardy. It could have the IRS breathing down its neck in short order and for good reason.

While a portion of a not-for-profit's work can be about lobbying for political issues, exactly zero of its efforts can be directed toward lobbying for any political candidates. Here is how an April 17 IRS statement reads: "By law, organizations exempt from tax under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) may not 'participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.'”

The Douglas Ottati article on pages 30 and 31 crosses the line and puts Witherspoon Society directly in the position of promoting Democratic candidates for president and opposing Republicans. Any pretense of being neutral or not intervening in a political campaign has evaporated.

Ottati asks the readers, "Which Democratic candidate should we support?" He summarizes: "In short, after eight years of W. and his many accomplishments, both foreign and domestic, our chief electoral responsibility seems nicely summarized by a sticker I saw the other day on another friend’s car: 'Enough is enough. Vote Democratic.'"

There you have it--an exempt organization doing exactly what it cannot do: beating the drum for a political party in the election of president. It would be just as guilty if it had hyped the Republican candidate and denigrated the Democratic candidates. I hope the Witherspoon Society is prepared to answer to a no-nonsense Internal Revenue Service, which has pledged to "maintain a meaningful enforcement presence" concerning such violations of law.

But even beyond that legal jeopardy, why would any group whose interests are Christian make its main concern secular partisan politics? Are there too few possible acts of Christian witness or mercy available to maintain its interest? Or is the Witherspoon Society in truth just a Democratic Party action group at heart, with only the vestiges remaining of being a genuine Christian ministry whose work transcends the platform of any particular political party?

29 Comments:

Blogger Presbyman said...

It was just a matter of time before it happened. The Witherspoon Society is very political and has been heavily involved in such activities for awhile. Here's an announcement about one of them running for Congress in 2006:

Presbyterian minister – and Witherspooner – runs for Congress in California [9-8-06]

The Rev. Jill Martinez, who was nominated for Moderator of the 212th General Assembly in 2000, and who joined the Witherspoon Society in the same year, is running for Congress in California's 24th congressional district. That district covers Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and, she says, appears to offer a "winnable race" for a Democrat in what has been a Republican district.

If anyone is interested in learning more about her campaign, there’s information on her website – including a brief bio sketch and policy papers on issues such as education, health care, housing, the need to "change course in Iraq, immigration policy ... and more.

She can be contacted at jill_martinez@verizon.net or by phone at (805) 446-3000. Her Ventura office is located at 89 California Street in Ventura, and her Santa Barbara county office is at 1301 East Clark Rd, in Orcutt.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Hawaii, a Masters of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Martinez’ post graduate work at SFTS emphasized research in examining the "Mestizaje process" where people of differing cultures come together and form new cultural identities.


I don't really blame them for political involvement ... I just hope this latest incident may encourage fewer criticisms of the "Religious Right" for its political involvement. Somehow I doubt that will happen.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

3:42 PM, May 19, 2008  
Blogger Jodie said...

"any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.'”

Which candidate were they talking about and for which office?

8:13 AM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Flycandler said...

It's an editorial, clearly marked as such, by someone whose affiliation is listed as with the college and not the organization. Regardless, the IRS ban does not mean that individuals can't have opinions.

Doesn't the IRD have better things to do than file frivolous complaints with the IRS?

8:24 AM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Presbyman said...

I could be mistaken, but I don't think Jim's post on his personal blog critical of the Witherspoon Society equals "filing a complaint" by the IRD. Personally, I would not file a complaint and I don't think the IRD should either. When in doubt, we should allow more political expression by people of faith, not less.

I just hope that the next time a conservative Christian is under the gun, the same will apply. I don't think anyone can dispute that religious progressives are just as political as religious conservatives ... maybe even more so.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

8:33 AM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Flycandler said...

I hope the Witherspoon Society realizes that its latest Network News puts its nonprofit status in jeopardy. It could have the IRS breathing down its neck in short order and for good reason.

No, he simply recommends doing so (or at least fantasizes about someone else doing it for him).

And don't worry. Next time the Layman includes an editorial praising the Republican Party for its gay-baiting, nobody's going to the IRS.

8:54 AM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Presbyman said...

Well, for what it's worth, I don't think anyone should file a complaint. That would be a bad use of time and resources. And it would send a bad signal. Who wants to encourage the government to investigate faith-based organizations for something that is, at most, a minor problem?

John Erthein
Erie, PA

9:05 AM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Debbie said...

Jodie--Essentially the article advocates against McCain, and the IRS regulation stipulates not intervening in a campaign in opposition to any candidate as well as on behalf of a candidate.

Please note, by the way, Jim's comment in the blog that the Witherspoon Societ "would be just as guilty if it had hyped the Republican candidate and denigrated the Democratic candidates."

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

1:24 PM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Jodie said...

Debbie, (and Jim),

I clicked on the indicated reference and got a commentary on what "the left" should consider good news and bad. I can't find anything that could be construed as the W.S intervening against the MaCain campaign or hyping anybody else's campaign at all.

Are you sure you have the right reference?

7:41 PM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...

Jodie, Flycandler, and Bullinger,

Please play by the rules. Give me your full name, city, and state, or I'll be forced to remove your comments.

Concerning Jodie's evening 5/20 comment: READ MY POSTING. I give you the writer, the article, and the pages. Then I quote the language that tells people to vote democratic in the presidential race. I believe people could deduce that that means to vote against the Republican, McCain.

What's hard to figure out about that?

One can advocate such a thing individually, as a form of free speech. No problem. But one can't do that as a tax-exempt organization. The government doesn't give out tax exemptions in order for an organization to use its energies and money to intervene in political races--to tell people to vote for or against any candidates for office.

The Witherspoon Society has goofed. The editor did something that puts the group's tax-exempt status in jeopardy. However, it will most likely blow over.

But, as others have pointed out, it most certainly shows that the Witherspoon Society is guilty of doing for liberal politics the very thing it decries when other groups do (or, as the case may be, don't do but are falsely accused of doing) it for conservative politics.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA
(Note that I play by my own rules!)

10:33 PM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Jodie said...

Jim,

Please, stop! What nonsense! Context, context, context!

If you really believe what you are saying, then go ahead and report them to the IRS. I dare ya.

They can get blood out of a turnip.

If it indeed "blows over" it will be because even the IRS thinks you are being obtuse.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

11:39 PM, May 20, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...

Jodie,

Thank you for adding your name and community--I think. It does seem odd to me, however, that the name and city you gave provide no hits on Live Search, Google, or WhitePages.com. Would you care to help us know who you are in real life, since your Blogger profile is also empty?

I would also prefer if you could cut the ad hominem attacks. The first resort of those who have no facts to back up their arguments is to call people names. It's not really very becoming of you to resort to mockery and labeling.

Obtuse means "lacking quickness, perception, or intellect." That seems like a misplaced charge, since I am the one who actually understands and can interpret the IRS regulatons, and you seem to refuse to concede the obvious--that Witherspoon Society was involving itself in telling people how to vote in an election. I wonder if you bothered to follow the link to the no-nonsense IRS site and its directives to non-profits?

The reason I wonder about your understanding of the issue is because you misuse a common legal saying: "You can't get blood from a turnip." That is about lawsuits, where someone is trying to get money from someone else who has empty pockets. The IRS could, I suppose, fine the Witherspoon Society for its actions, but more likely and much more troublesome would be for the IRS to yank the Witherspoon Society's non-profit status. That would leave the Witherspoon Society needing to pay taxes on its income and would keep donors from being able to claim gifts to the Witherspoon Society as a charitable donation.

But, as I said, most likely would be the determination that although the Witherspoon Society is in obvious violation of regulations, the case wouldn't be big enough to warrant anything more than a stern letter to cease and desist. Probably the IRS has bigger fish to fry.

That wouldn't justify the Witherspoon Society's violations. It would just mean it skated on thin ice and got away with it because it's such an inconsequential group.

But back to you, Jodie. If you're going to be so dominant and full of opinion and invective here on my blog, would you be so kind as to reveal who you really are? Let us know a little bit about who this person is who has burst on the scene with such arrogance and ill will.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA
(a real name that checks out)

8:37 AM, May 21, 2008  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

Jim,

I have to agree with flycandler’s assessment that Douglas Ottati is not from the Witherspoon Society but only writes a column printed in their publication. Ottati is not an official voice or officer of the society; therefore the society has not violated IRS regulations.

After reading all of Jodie’s comments, and taking them as a whole (in context, context, context!), it is clear to me that the intent was to play on your stubborn nature (Jodie preferred the assessment, obtuse). How long would it be before you admitted you were wrong about the Witherspoon Society’s violation of IRS regulations? My money is on never, and I suspect Jodie’s is as well. Obtuse or stubborn, just a distinction without a difference.

1:10 PM, May 21, 2008  
Blogger Dave Moody said...

Man- you're both obtuse AND run the cleverly cynical right wing conspiracy against the mainline denominations. Undoubtedly from the undisclosed bunker, you let Dick Cheney borrow in times of national need.

...I'm just saying...

tongue firmly planted in cheek
Dave Moody,
S. IL.

1:51 PM, May 21, 2008  
Blogger ZZMike said...

A number of things appear evident. First, Rev Ottati's column is titled "Theological Musings ... A regular column by Dr Douglas F. Ottati".

Therefore his views can be considered those of the W.S.

Second, he is unabashedly unashamed of being a member of the Left. The title is "A Role for the Left"; he addresses "Presbyterian and progressive" (that last is the current incarnation of the term for "socialist"). Some of you seem to have missed the part where he says "... our chief electoral responsibility seems nicely summarized by a sticker I saw the other day on another friend’s car: 'Enough is enough. Vote Democratic.'"

The W.S. is an organization of Presbyterian progressives (that last is the current incarnation of the term for "socialist" - I repeat deliberately).

His statement "The Democrats have come up with a good, even historic field of candidates ...." is laughable in the extreme. Neither of their candidates shows an ounce of integrity or a flea's understanding of either foreign policy or national economics. Hillary says "we'll have to take it away from you for the common good"; Obama is all for raising taxes.

I'm all in favor of churches getting involved in politics. There are moral and immoral candidates, and churches should be able to voice their opinion.

But nobody's forcing them to seek shelter under a tax haven.

Read the rest of that newsletter. It's a regular paean to progressivism (for which read "socialism"). Jim Berkeley is singled out for criticism. They say, "The IRD has the rather narrow agends of defending free market economics and an assertive foreign policy". I don't know enough about the IRD to say if that's their whole agenda, but it is certainly something a "progressive" (for which read ....) would be aghast at.

Their "21st Century Social Creed" is a purely social construct:

Civil, political, economic rights for men and women? Does anybody see a problem here (by here, I mean the US)?

Abolition of forced labor...? Where is that happening here?

And so on. All these things are problems in other parts of the world.

So I would strongly suggest that the W.S. send copies of this "Creed" to all the heads of government in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America - and wait for the responses.

Mike Zorn
Santa Ana CA

3:04 PM, May 21, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...

Kattie,

It appears that you don't understand IRS regulations. Ottati doesn't need to be an officer for Witherspoon Society to be in violation. For them to publish instructions (written by anybody) on how to vote in an election is sufficient. They can't do that as a non-profit. Not at all. Not by any author.

Let's say that I really love Bozo the Clown for president, and I write a broadside that touts his candidacy and tells everyone to vote for Bozo. And let's say that First Presbyterian Church of Podunk distributes my broadside, telling all their people to read it before they vote. I'm not an officer of FPCP, but you can bet that FPCP has violated IRS regulatons.

If I were wrong, I'd be chagrined, but I'd admit it. But I'm simply not wrong on this. Your declaring me wrong does not cut it. Prove it. Cite the regulations. I did. Mere opinions don't carry any weight.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

5:06 PM, May 21, 2008  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

"A number of things appear evident. First, Rev Ottati's column is titled "Theological Musings ... A regular column by Dr Douglas F. Ottati".

Therefore his views can be considered those of the W.S."

Mike,

Your conclusion just doesn't follow from your premises.

It's logically similar to saying that a university professor who regularly speaks to his or her class necessarily reflects, in his or her lectures, the views of the university administration.

It's likely true that the Witherspoon Society likes what Ottati has to say, at least most of the time, otherwise he probably wouldn't have a regular column. But it's a stretch to conclude that he is actually speaking as their agent. That would require proof that in all likelihood doesn't exist. The articles by W.S. agents are easy to spot by their “by line” or by their names being listed as officers of W.S. at the end of the publication. Ottati is an invited columnist/scholar clearly speaking for himself.

Jim says:

“Let's say that I really love Bozo the Clown for president, and I write a broadside that touts his candidacy and tells everyone to vote for Bozo. And let's say that First Presbyterian Church of Podunk distributes my broadside, telling all their people to read it before they vote. I'm not an officer of FPCP, but you can bet that FPCP has violated IRS regulatons.”

Guess what Jim; The W.S. didn’t tell anyone to read Ottati’s article before they vote. They also made no claim that his viewpoint was also their own. I hope you can come up with a better example than that, or your whistle blowing and Layman alerting is going to continue to look like Barney Fife on a rampage.

Did you report this to the IRS?

5:53 PM, May 21, 2008  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

As a follow-up: Even if this is technically a violation of IRS regulations, and I don’t think it really is, it certainly isn’t a case the IRS is likely to pursue very far.

From the IRS 2008 PACI Program Letter to EO Employees:

“EO will continue enforcement activity in this area and will continue its efforts to publish guidance that will reduce areas of confusion or conflict. As a general matter, EO will concentrate on allegations of more egregious violations and the cases that result from them. As always, EO needs to continue to work closely with Counsel throughout the process.”

In other IRS publications in this regard the term “egregious” is used in the context of multiple violations not just an isolated instance.

It’s just Barney Fife on a rampage, or Gomer Pyle: “Citizen’s arrest! Citizens arrest!”

6:41 PM, May 21, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...

Kattie,

You argued that "The W.S. didn’t tell anyone to read Ottati’s article before they vote." So? Publishing the instructions to "Vote Democratic!" was sufficient for it to be a violation.

You wrote, "They also made no claim that his viewpoint was also their own." Not necessary to be a violation. Had they published an opinion that merely used as an example that someone was once instructed somewhere to "vote Democratic," that wouldn't be a problem.

But they chose to publish an editorial comment that had as its main point the instruction to vote Democratic. That's what they can't do as a non-profit agency enjoying tax privileges, no matter if someone not on their board or in their employ wrote it, no matter if they said or didn't say, "And that's our official advice, too."

Churches have gotten in hot water merely for handing out slanted voter pamphlets that painted one party in a good light and another in a bad light, obviously indicating that people should vote for candidates of one party over another.

One church took out a big ad in USA Today that told the nation, "Don't vote for X [I forget which presidential candidate it was] because he approves of killing unborn children," or something of that sort. That case was a big deal and brought a lot of heat on the church.

The UCC is in hot water for having a presidential candidate (Obama) speak at their national assemby last year, along with his campaign staff beating the drum for his campaign. He is a UCC member--one of their own--but the appearance of supporting his candidacy was enough to cause the IRS to frown on the activity.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA, has had a protracted spat with the IRS about a sermon by its former rector in which he denounced a presidential candidate or the candidate's party. It's a large, influential church, and it was only ONE instance, and All Saints has had no end of trouble (and I wonder if it has been unfairly criticized in this case).

The examples go on and on. Read something by Richard Hammar sometime. Keep reading on the IRS site. Read tax law if you still disagree with me. But I assure you that I know what I'm talking about on this one.

For a number of years as editor of YOUR CHURCH magazine, I had to be current on this kind of thing. More recently I've done editing for Richard Hammar and CHRISTIANITY TODAY International on such issues as taxes, law, and the church. Hammar's work is the gold standard that churches everywhere look up to.

Up until about a year ago, I was receiving all the IRS press statements, and among them were items on this very issue.

In other words, I'm not shooting the breeze on this issue. Either give me facts and references, or concede that you may not be the expert on this matter.

And "Barney Fife" references? Oh, come now! Is that the best you can manage for mature argumentation?

You asked if I reported WS to the IRS? No. Of course not. I have better things to do.

You surmised that "it certainly isn’t a case the IRS is likely to pursue very far...." Yes. I agree. In fact, that is what I have said previously in the conversation, at least two ways.

What you seem to be ignoring is the larger principle: The Witherspoon Society (1) assumes that its whole constituency is smug Democrats, (2) thinks it's a great idea to run an article telling them how to vote Democratic, and (3) publishes the conclusion that whatever you do, the best thing is to vote for Democrats.

Is the Witherspoon Society anything more than a branch of the Democratic Party?

You don't see evangelical or conservative Presbyterian churches assuming that a conservative Christian would obviously be a conservative Republican. They wouldn't be so presumptuous.

I've never heard an evangelical pastor lamenting from the pulpit, say, a Republican loss at the polls, but I certainly heard lamentations in supposed "worship" at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago after a disastrous Democratic loss a few years ago. One would think that Rev. Buchanan assumed EVERY worshipper was a registered Democrat and would share his deep anguish over a Republican victory. It was amazing to me that worship would be turned into a Democratic group sob. It was certainly beyond any previous experience and in such poor taste.

I probably shouldn't, but I always expect churches to be churches, and not political enclaves playing church but really most interested in secular politics. But that's certainly the message the Witherspoon Society was broadcasting loud and clear in the Ottati article: "Hey you Democrats! Come here for your Democratic instructions!" Sad.

Again, it would be just as sad if it were "Hey all you Republicans! This is the place for all your Republican instruction!" It's not the party that's the problem. It's the focus.

Jim Berkley
Belleve, WA

11:00 PM, May 21, 2008  
Blogger Rubber Nathan said...

Jim,
I have to question your enthusiasm here. This IRS regulation is an unjust law, essentially government sanctioned censorship of ministers and church officers. As a minister it truly scares me that another minister would use the government as a tool of oppression and censorship. You can't possibly believe that this is a just law!

We have already seen other Western nations prosecute ministers for speaking out against the homosexual lifestyle by enacting hate speech laws. Can our country be far behind? You are playing right into the hands of those who would one day strip you of your free speech on political issues. Ministers are citizens of the United States and should not have to give up their right to free speech when they enter into the pulpit. I don't care if you are Republican or Democrat. YOu should have the right to express political opinions from the pulpit and talk about any political issue you wish. (That doesn't mean it is always wise to do that and I would recommend checking with your homiletics instructor before doing so!)

Are you sure that you want the IRS weighing in here? I can't honestly believe that you, a representative of a non-profit organization of yourself, would want to start running to the feds. Trust me, they will be coming after all of us all too soon. It truly scares me to see how we hand over our constitutional rights to the government without thinking twice.

Nathan Lamb
Hartford, Iowa

7:43 AM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger Rubber Nathan said...

Oops...Doug Ottati is not a minsiter. Um...I think you can still see my argument anyway. Free speech is our God-given right and us minsiters have been much to quick to give it away!

Nathan Lamb
Hartford, IA

7:46 AM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...

Nathan,

I understand your point, but I think you may have failed to make two distinctions:

1) A non-profit voicing its opinions about abortion, morality, immigration, or any other issue is perfectly okay. It is good. We need to live out our faith within our sphere, and our faith does impact so many issues in life.

(Being a Presbyterian who is often embarrassed by the arrogance and bias of sweeping denominational social proclamations that show more ignorance and politics than faith, however, I would hope that Christians would use better sense and modesty before they toss out half-baked notions as if they were Christian wisdom.)

But on the issue of partisan politics and the election of people for office, the government draws a line. Those groups that enjoy the privilege of being tax-free for the betterment of society are not to use that privilege and the tax-deductible donations they receive to enter into the political fray of elections. It's not kosher to try to elect an individual or defeat another using money and effort that was supposed to go to the CHARITABLE purposes of the organization.

I fully agree that when in Canada a preacher can be pulled before some kangaroo court of political correctness for preaching that homosexual practice is sin, then the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech are terribly abridged. That's not right. But I don't see how a preacher has some right to be able to instruct parishioners for whom they should vote.

2) A church or preacher wanting ABSOLUTE freedom to promote a certain candidate can certainly enjoy that freedom. They can become a committee to elect So-and-so, if they so choose. They can exercise completely free speech. They would simply need to forfeit the privilege they have in this country of being non-profit.

Why are some groups non-profit? The government figures that their charitable purposes better society. Because these groups improve society, the government gives them the extraordinary privilege of not having to pay taxes themselves, and in addition, the government rewards those who give to the groups by making their gifts tax-deductible.

That isn't done willy nilly. The purposes and activities of the group need to be charitable in nature, not political. If the purposes and activities turn political, then the group would no longer qualify for special tax treatment.

Thus if a church wants to be all political, no one is stopping it. It can do so. I just can't do so while retaining the rouse that it is a charitable group rather than a political group.

I AM concerned about the erosion of religious freedom. So-called hate-crime laws and commissions, some onerous and prejudicial zoning regulations, prejudice toward Christian belief in the public square, the rise of a feel-good secularism that disdains true Christian convictions--things like this are deeply impacting the experience of Christians as citizens and of congregations as institutions in this society.

I think things will probably get worse along those lines in the near future, and I am saddened by the fact. It will become harder to live distinctly as a Christian in this society. We need to get used to it.

However, I don't believe that tax laws intended to keep privileged CHARITABLE organizations doing charitable rather than political things are bad. Were those laws enforced in mean-spirited, petty, prejudicial, or capricious ways, such faulty enforcement would be a problem. But the law itself, to me, makes good sense.

I even think it protects us from our own excesses and arrogance. Who am I as a spiritual leader to think that it is my job to tell people to vote for my candidate? What presumption! What arrogance!

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

9:37 AM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger Mark Smith said...

As much as I support some progressive causes, I have to admit that Jim is right.

The Witherspoon Society has crossed the line SLIGHTLY by publishing this editorial in their newsletter. If he had left out the sentences quoted by Jim in this original post, he would have been fine. The factual statements about the state of the electorate's opinions on page 30 right hand side were fine. It is only when he advocates voting Democrat that he crosses the line.

His comment on John McCain's policies being disturbing was NOT electioneering.

It's the end of his 2nd to last paragraph that gets him in trouble.

Having said all of that, I am also annoyed with people and organizations who file anonymous complaints with the IRS in order to muzzle people. Why should they get to hide behind the IRS? Let's make it clear who is filing these complaints - even if the IRS chooses to protect their identity they should announce their complaints themselves.

Free speech is guaranteed by the constitution. Tax exemption is not. Neither is anonymous free speech.

Mark Smith
Hamilton, NJ

10:08 AM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger ZZMike said...

"This IRS regulation is an unjust law, essentially government sanctioned censorship of ministers and church officers."

Could we also say that it's at least an unofficial endorsement of religion?

"Ministers are citizens of the United States and should not have to give up their right to free speech when they enter into the pulpit."

In that we agree. And there's no reason why they should get a tax exemption.

It's an odd world. The founder of Scientology, eraly on, told his friends, "The way to get really rich is to start a church". Which he did.

One issue is that of IRS church exemptions. Under that we can put "but only if they stay out of national elections". Everybody knows the rules. One of the things we are supposed to do is play by those rules, and if we don't agree with them, work to change them.

Rev Ottati knows the rules, but figures that he's above the law.

Jim's last argument is both eloquent and compelling. As he says, if Ottati wants to endorse the Left, he can form a PAC. There are plenty of people who will drown him in money.

Mike Zorn
Santa Ana CA

10:47 AM, May 22, 2008  
Blogger Toby Brown said...

Back when I used to attend the occaisional WS meeting, which is another story ENTIRELY, I can testify that I met narry a Republican, ever!

In fact, I'm surprised he endorsed Obama. I mean after all, why not Nader or the Socialist candidate?

Thanks Jim for doing some heavy lifting here. You have answered and refuted your critics with plain reason and it must sting them to elicit the responses you have!

8:06 PM, May 24, 2008  
Blogger john mcneese said...

I would eliminate the tax-exemption for all non-profits, including churches. What good is a "contribution" if we get a tax-deduction for it? I know of a person who gives only cash to the church so as not to benefit personally from such a donation.

John McNeese
Ponca City, OK

8:31 AM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger Viola said...

Jim,
I think you and all should know that CaptainKona is an advocate of violence against Evangelicals. He writes on his forum on his blog site:
"The list goes on and on. These are the liars to watch out for. Them and their followers are dangerous, not only to the world view of Christianity, but dangerous to your self and your family.
Deal with them violently if necessary, they will not hesitate to harm you if given the chance. Remember, these are NOT Christians. They are Wolves in Lamb's clothing. Beware!"

And yes he lists Fred Phelps among them but he also lists James Dobson. You can find his rant at http://tn420.org/cove/page.php?id=9&PHPSESSID=a2f3d159f767e200c7b2bf93850a2d90. He also sometimes signs in as tn420 which is actually the name of his blog ring where he pushes marijuana at http://tn420.org/.

Viola Larson
Sacramento CA

9:38 AM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...

An anonymous person left an abusive comment and I removed it. Sorry to not have the previous comment for you to refer to when Viola comments, but anonymous junk postings will not survive here.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

2:12 PM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger ZZMike said...

One last note on the church/IRS connection. Mr Berkeley probably already knows this, but here is a very good website on the issue:

Politics and the Pulpit 2008

From the Pew Forum. It starts with where the restrictions come from, and goes into great detail on what's permitted and what's not. It all seem to originate in the first question:

1. Where do the restrictions on religious organizations’ participation in the political process come from?

8:53 PM, May 26, 2008  
Blogger Cameron Mott said...

Is the prohibition against advocating for a candidate or an election or a political party or some combination? It seems to mean a candidate for sure but is vague to me about the other two.

Cameron Mott
Paola, KS

9:03 PM, May 26, 2008  

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