The IRS vs. St. Ambrose

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I’m on record as opposing churches becoming yet another political interest group… Not because I’m concerned about the political sphere being compromised by religion (which seems to be the concern of lefties) but because I’m concerned about the mission of the churches being compromised by politics. (The political sphere being compromised… That’s a good joke).

Nevertheless, I think the activities of the IRS in policing the political activities of churches is creepy and wrong:

Both religious flanks are looking nervously over their shoulders at the Internal Revenue Service, which this year announced a renewed effort to enforce laws that limit churches and charities from involvement in partisan political campaigns.

“We became concerned in the 2004 election cycle that we were seeing more political activity among charities, including churches,” said Lois G. Lerner, the director for exempt organizations at the I.R.S. “In fact, of the organizations we looked at, we saw a very high percentage of some improper political activity, and that is really why we have ramped up the program in 2006.”

One wonders whether St. Ambrose would have come under investigation by the IRS when he refused Emperor Theodosius entry to the cathedral.

Yes, yes I know that this all comes out of the tax exempt status that a few churches have heroically chosen to forego. But the root problem here is taxation, not the glorious loopholes without which our economy would grind to a halt.

BTW, the bias of the NYT in this article by Laurie Goodstein is so blatant as to be embarrassing. Religious conservatives are “facing resistance from… religious liberals and moderates”. What are religious moderates? Are there any religious moderates that should be grouped with religious conservatives rather than religious liberals? What is the position of a religious moderate on abortion, the primacy of the Pope or Jesus being the “only way” to the Father? These questions don’t usually leave much room for middle positions.

10:30 am on September 18, 2006