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Every denomination needs one of these...

A "trickledown of unease" and other spin on the IRS investigation

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This is an interesting turn:

At a talk on aging at Community United Church of Christ recently, the host prefaced her introduction by saying that the event was not political and that the discussion would pertain solely to the issues.

The comment was not just throat-clearing. Members of the Raleigh congregation are especially skittish these days about mixing church and state concerns since it was disclosed that the Internal Revenue Service is investigating their denomination. At issue is a speech presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama gave to 10,000 people at a church conference in Hartford, Conn.

The IRS wants to know whether UCC jeopardized its tax-exempt status by
having Obama speak to its members in June. The IRS tax code prohibits churches
and other tax-exempt institutions from participating or intervening in a
political campaign on behalf of a candidate.

The investigation has caused a trickledown of unease, so that speakers
at local churches are warned about being "political."
How does a talk on aging turn political? This stuff really isn't all that complicated... don't prop up a candidate and the IRS will leave you alone. Why are folks in the pews scared?
"There's probably a heightened sensitivity that churches need to be careful in how they handle the exuberance of this political season," said Stephen Camp, the conference minister for the 225 United Church of Christ congregations in North Carolina and Eastern Virginia.

Camp sent a letter to all members of the Southern Conference explaining that the 1.2 million-member denomination invited Obama before he was a presidential candidate. The Illinois senator, a 20-year member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, was asked to address the intersection of public service and personal faith.

In my mind, Camp has always been a parrot for the denomination hierarchy and is always reliable to carry the water for Cleveland without thinking much about what he says (remember Camp telling autonomous local churches who they could and could not affiliate with?). So what is Camp doing that would have folks at a talk on aging concerned about the IRS? Again, the IRS rules are not difficult to understand.

It's also kind of amusing to see who is reading the talking points from the national office. Like robots, each of the conference ministers recite that "Obama was invited before he was a candidate"... as if the date you invite a candidate matters to the IRS. When I hear this, my stupid detector goes off. The IRS guidelines do not differentiate an offense based on when a candidate is invited and it has nothing to do at all with Obama's status when he did speak.
posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Well, it looks like UCC Truths has finally succeeded! You have accomplished silencing congregations and making them fearful! Congratulations!!
commented by Blogger David, 1:08 PM  
Someone somewhere in this discussion mentioned to me the relevence of =intention=. The mentioned of =when= Obama was invited speaks directly to that concern if not to the IRS's questions. These are not talking points addressed to the IRS but to those who are or might be suspicious of the denominational leadership and GS planners.
commented by Blogger Don, 5:13 PM  

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