The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a church in Pasadena has had its tax-exempt status threatened by the IRS because of sermon delivered last year. The offending content of the sermon was a passage that imagined an encounter between Jesus and Bush in which Jesus says,
"Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster."
The church is charactorized in the article as being generally liberal. That, of course, does not violate any IRS code. What is supremely outrageous about this is that a sermon delivered in a church whose savior is the Prince of Peace, with 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu in attendance, is under scrutiny because it advocates PEACE!
What I'd like to know is how does the IRS justify this action? Have they taken similar actions, and if so, against whom? When Jerry Falwell and the 700 Club behave in such overtly partisan manners, why is their status not under review? If the Catholic Church can deny John Kerry communion, and tell its members that to vote for a candidate that is pro-choice or supports gay rights, is a sin, how do they continue to enjoy tax-exempt status?
At a time when the religious right is such a visible, and powerful, component of contemporary politics, it seems somewhat more than odd that the only religious institution being harrassed is one that is left of center. Is that evidence that the IRS is selectively targeting the administration's opponents? Not quite. But it is egregious, it is shameful, and it is outrageous in the extreme.