- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This letter is in response to Tara Wall’s blog item “Victory In Defeat of Hypocrisy” (Tara’s Two Cents, Thursday). Contrary to some news reports, the focus of the Texas Freedom Network’s complaint to the Internal Revenue Service wasn’t the activities of churches and pastors. We asked the IRS whether the evidence showed that a private, nonprofit foundation had violated its tax-exempt status by intervening in a partisan election on behalf of a candidate. We do not oppose the right of pastors to speak out on the political issues of the day (short of endorsing or opposing electoral candidates), and our complaint did not ask the IRS to investigate whether churches themselves had violated their tax-exempt status by doing so. We believe, however, that the private foundation appeared to cross a legal line and stand by our complaint to that effect.

Ms. Wall cites a story in The Washington Times that said, “Liberal groups cautioned against interpreting the decision as a political carte blanche for churches and clergy on the right” (“Moral-values groups hail tax ruling,” Politics, Wednesday). In fact, I told the reporter that no one should misread the IRS ruling as a green light for churches to engage in partisan campaigns. I did not limit this warning to churches and clergy on the political right.

Ms. Wall also suggests that we filed our complaint thinking that the Obama administration would look favorably upon it. In truth, we filed the complaint in January 2008, many months before Mr. Obama’s election as president.

The IRS has investigated liberal pastors who have improperly endorsed or explicitly opposed candidates for electoral office in violation of the tax-exempt status of their churches.

We long ago called for politicians to stop dragging our houses of worship into partisan campaigns and using faith as a political weapon, and we have not limited our call to those on the right.



DAN QUINN

Communications Director

Texas Freedom Network

Austin, Texas

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