Saturday, February 25, 2006

Praise the Lord and Pass the Nomination Papers?

So what happens when politicians start giving public money to churches and preachers? In a recent report by the IRS we find one answer, some of the churches and charities overstep into politics. This should be no surprise at all since the Bush Administration has blurred the lines between church and state with his “Faith Based Initiative”. I all but predicted this kind of result in my first report on the subject, “Is the Faith Based Initiative a Fraud?” I have also drawn attention to the fact that Congressman Mark Green had indicated that he will follow the Bush model.

Here are a few important excerpts about the IRS report:

IRS exams found nearly three out of four 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.

In three cases, however, the IRS uncovered violations egregious enough to recommend revoking the groups' tax-exempt status.

The vast majority of charities and churches followed the law, but the examinations found a "disturbing" amount of political intervention in the 2004 elections, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said.

"It's disturbing not because it's pervasive, but because it has the potential to really grow and have a very bad impact on the integrity of charities and churches," Everson said in an interview.

As I have already stated, Mark Green promises to bring a Wisconsin version of the “Faith Based Initiative” to Wisconsin if he is elected Governor. He has also been endorsed by Milwaukee Bishop Sedgwick Daniels. Sedgwick Daniels is featured on my blog in a long series of investigative reports starting with the aforementioned “Is the Faith Based Initiative a Fraud?”

In the run up to the 2004 presidential election several stories in the media pointed out the fact that Sedgwick seemed to be a reliable Democrat but then decided to endorse Bush. As we reported, Sedgwick applied for and received over $1.4 million in federal dollars for programs at his church for both 2003 and 2004. Sedgwick has since applied for and received additional federal funds for various programs. Did this money have anything to do with his apparent political turnaround? I don’t know the man’s heart, but for me it creates a terrible impression.

During the time of the above described events, Sedgwick had Bush over to his church repeatedly. He served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention and even was featured on a GOP flyer suggesting that you vote for Bush. Here take a look at the flyer for a moment. He appears to be wearing his pastoral robe and holding his Bible. I have only been in his church once but it appears that this photo may have even been taken in his church. Could this be considered the same kind of “overstepping” that the IRS has found abundant recently? I only ask the question, which I feel is still my right. I will allow readers and those smarter than myself to come to their own conclusions about that.

The bottom line is that when you blur the line between church and state, both of the vital institutions become tainted by each other. The trend that the IRS has found should be no surprise to anyone. Religious institutions have survived and even thrived without being mingled with the state. It is my opinion that we should allow government to do it’s job and the church to follow through with it’s mission. To mix the two will only create ethical doubts and cynicism regarding motives. If we truly value both institutions then this is something that we should avoid at all costs. Even if that cost is a few votes.

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