- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2002

Conference more controversial than story lets on

Your account of Glenn Spencer's anti-immigration speech at the recent American Renaissance conference is seriously amiss ("Activist warns of border war," Feb. 25).

You report Mr. Spencer's central belief that Mexican immigrants are close to plunging the United States into civil war by trying to reclaim historic lands. You fail to mention, however, his history of deriding Mexicans, including his assertion in a letter to the Los Angeles Times that "The Mexican culture is based on deceit."

Failing to provide this context or to quote any other sources misleads one to believe that he is a fair-minded commentator.

It is also important to note that the conference sponsor, American Renaissance magazine, is a well-known white supremacist publication. Its biennial meetings have featured neo-Nazi David Duke. Along with Mr. Spencer, this year's speakers included the head of Britain's leading fascist party, the leader of the racist Council of Conservative Citizens and former syndicated columnist Sam Francis.


ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN

National director

Anti-Defamation League

New York

Facts don't support ad attacking Greece

The Feb. 25 anonymous advertisement, paid for by the so-called "Greek Americans Against Terrorism," is a matter of serious concern for the Greek-American community. The advertisement is both false and misleading in its accusations.

First, Greece is not a state sponsor of terrorism. Greece has undertaken serious measures to combat the threat of terrorism. The State Department's report "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000" states that Greece has undertaken "meaningful steps to combat terrorism especially in the wake of … 17 November's murder of U.K. Defense Attache Saunders in Athens. … The government strengthened the police counterterrorism unit, implemented a multimillion-dollar reward program, and began drafting legislation to provide a legal basis for more vigorous counterterrorism efforts. Greek, British, and U.S. experts cooperated closely in the still ongoing investigation of the Saunders murder."

Second, while the terrorist group 17 November must be eradicated and brought to justice, it is false to state that it is responsible for "hundreds of murders, assassinations and other attacks." According to an official report from the Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. Embassy in Athens, this terrorist group is responsible for the murder of 24 individuals since 1975 four Americans, one British, 17 Greeks and two others and has carried out a total of approximately 35 attacks which injured or killed their targets. These numbers vary dramatically from those alleged in the "attack" ad. The statement is harmful in its depiction of Greece as a haven for terrorists. In truth, Greece enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in the European Union.

You didn't require your advertiser to provide public contact information. A great disservice is committed against your readership when you do not allow the means to respond directly to persons who make such allegations.


GENE ROSSIDES

General counsel

American Hellenic Institute

Washington

Pulpit politicking a problem for both parties

Rep. Walter B. Jones' Feb. 24 Commentary Forum piece "Addressing the muffled bully pulpit" mischaracterizes the position of Americans United for Separation of Church and State concerning political activity in houses of worship.

Specifically, Mr. Jones accuses Americans United of a partisan bias in criticizing houses of worship for engaging in illegal politicking. Here are the facts: Americans United has engaged in a project for several years that informs churches of the law as it relates to churches and politics. When instances come to our attention of churches ignoring federal tax law and working for or against a political candidate, we report the most egregious examples to the Internal Revenue Service for review.

Our efforts have been strictly non-partisan and even handed. In recent years, we have reported ministries for endorsing Democrats, Republicans and third-party candidates.

Our first project in this area began a decade ago with a complaint against Jesse Jackson's use of a church in Chicago for fundraising during his presidential campaign. Since then, we have filed complaints with the IRS against a Baptist church in Baltimore hosting a campaign rally for then-President Bill Clinton, and we remain the only national organization that asked the IRS to investigate the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple, which actually raised money for Al Gore and other Democrats in 1996.

Mr. Jones has also mischaracterized the limits placed on churches by the IRS. He asserts that religious leaders are prohibited from speaking out on issues of interest to their congregations, but this is simply not true. Religious leaders have an absolute right to address moral and political issues. The only thing they may not do is endorse or oppose candidates for public office.

Mr. Jones's effort to change federal tax law is dangerous. It would politicize our houses of worship, leading to candidates to shill for votes and contributions from pulpits. The House should vote it down.


THE REV. BARRY W. LYNN

Executive director

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Washington

Jackson organization's taxes not in 'disarray'

We would like to correct some information that appeared in your Feb. 27 story, "Illinois awaits Jackson tax form."

Contrary to the article's assertion, we have been in contact with Illinois' Office of the Attorney General regarding the Citizenship Education Fund's (CEF) annual filing requirements. Unfortunately, Billy Owens, our former chief financial officer, resigned about eight months ago (not last month as your article asserts) to become vice president of finance at Grambling State University in Louisiana.

The organization was without a CFO for about three months. This vacancy, a far cry from the "disarray" your article cites, impacted our ability to complete the 2000 annual audit on a timely basis. Now that the audit has been completed, the return is being completed and will be filed as soon as possible.

To clarify another point, CEF is not "Mr. Jackson's primary funding vehicle," as this would imply that the Rev. Jesse Jackson personally is receiving some type of financial benefit from its existence.

Furthermore, the article characterizes CEF as one of Mr. Jackson's "holdings," which is a distortion. CEF is a not-for-profit corporation, and Mr. Jackson, as the president, is accountable to its board of directors. Mr. Jackson receives a salary far less than the amount described in your article.

On still another point, the $300,000 that you state that the "coalition received … from the Citizenship Education Fund in 1999" represents management services and administrative overhead provided by the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition (RPC) to CEF pursuant to a management agreement between the organizations.

Finally, there have been no changes in accounting methods. There has been a change in the timing of when members renew their memberships, from an anniversary membership renewal basis to a calendar year renewal basis. This change has nothing to do with accounting methods whatsoever, despite the "fiscal year" language in the membership renewal letter that your article cited.


CECIL B. LUCY

Chief financial officer

Citizenship Education Fund

Washington

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