Political Prosecution By Jane Galt

The liberal blogosphere is up in arms about this church, which it believes is the victim of a politically motivated IRS investigation over a pre-election speech.

Churches and other non-profits, as you know, are not supposed to engage in political activity. If they do, they lose their tax-exempt status.

The sermon, while claiming not to tell the congregation how to vote . . . well . . . how shall I put this . . . tells its congregation how to vote. The good reverend uses every mechanism except actually saying “Vote for John Kerry or you’re an amoral, venal, war-mongering, woman-hating, poor-oppressing b*stard.” Exactly that message is, however, crystal clear.

This is a big no-no. Now, as non-profit sins go, this speech strikes me as a venial one, several steps down the ladder from allowing employees to purchase office supplies with the Church’s sales tax exemption. For starters, it’s extraordinarily unlikely that anyone in the decidedly left-wing congregation was planning to vote for George Bush in the first place, and even if there was a reactionary imperialist running dog or two in the audience, I find it hard to imagine that they had their vote swayed by the good pastor’s speech, which is neither original nor particularly compelling.

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Nonetheless, the IRS has to investigate these things when it gets a complaint, and investigate it has, and aren’t we all glad that we have a big tax-collecting apparatus to protect us from left-wing ministers? But I digress.

The liberal blogosphere seems to be entertaining the notion that George Bush has personally spearheaded this inquisition against those noble people of conscience in order to intimidate the left wing. Cough. Might I suggest that George Bush probably gains a lot more votes than he loses if pastors are allowed to tell their flock how to vote, considering that most churchgoers on any given Sunday are rather conservative in outlook and denomination?

But at a more fundamental level, what’s more likely: that the Bush administration has launched a personal crusade against a left wing church that might have cost Mr Bush a handful of votes, in a state that was predestined to go Democratic anyway? Or that some sourpuss who’s p*ssed off at the minister because he wouldn’t use his cousin’s cleaning company to tidy up the vestry after services decided to get even by putting the IRS on his tail?

If the people getting all excited about this went to church more often, they’d know the answer to that question.

This content was used with the permission of Asymmetrical Information.

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