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Portions XPosted 8/3/2008 11:23 AM PDT on MyDesert.com

According to one of my activist friends, a former deacon of a religious extremist church in Utah, who attends an evangelical megachurch in the Coachella Valley in order to monitor its adherence to the tax code as it applies to its tax exempt status, churches across America today began '100 Days of Prayer' against Marriage Equality and cajolled their members and attendees to vote in favor of Proposition 8 and defeat gay marriage at the polls in November.

More below the flip...

Proposition 8 is an amendment to the California State Constitutionthat would ban Marriage Equality and would dictate that marriage is only between 'a man and a woman.' Prop 8 is another in a long line of attempts by out-of-state religious extremist organizations that attempts to further the religious extremist agenda as a step towards fomenting theocracy rather than democracy in the United States of America:

(Proposition 8) (a)mends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The measure would have no fiscal effect on state or local governments. This is because there would be no change to the manner in which marriages are currently recognized by the state. (Initiative 07-0068.) (Full Text)

From the pulpit of the church, directly in violation of the principles of the separation of church and state, church leaders discussed the impending vote on Prop 8 and advised members to not only 'pray' for the success of the proposition, but to also vote for Prop 8.  My friend advises that in churchspeak, this use of the term 'pray' means 'send money.'

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has investigated churches that in violation of their tax-exempt status exhort attendees to vote particular ways.  Recently, those investigations have been suspiciously limited to more mainstream, more liberal churches.  It is not against the law for, say, a minister, priest, or rabbi to state how he or she will vote, but it is against the law to encourage attendees to vote in a particular manner.  The most extreme penalty for the latter action is removal of tax-exempt status.

In 2005, the IRS began to investigate All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA and its guest minister, George Regas.  According to National Public Radio, Regas issued a sermon from the pulpit about a hypthetical conversation between Jesus, Pres. George W. Bush, and Sen. John Kerry. For that effort, someone filed a complaint with the IRS, and the IRS threatened to remove the tax exempt status of the church, claiming that Regas' sermon constituted an endorsement of Kerry. The IRS renewed its investigation in 2006.  However, All Saints Church refused to comply with the investigation.  Finally, in September 2007, the IRS bowed to public pressure and to the church and terminated its investigation.  In response, Rector Ed Bacon demanded that the IRS apologize and that the IRS be investigated.

In an attempt to strengthen democracy and to prevent institution of theocracy in America, more and more progressives and activists are attending religious extremist churches in order to monitor potentially illegal activities.

Americans United: for Separation of Church and State indicates that the greatest threat to the separation of church and state is the so-called 'Religious Right:'

The single greatest threat to church-state separation in America is the movement known as the Religious Right. Organizations and leaders representing this religio-political crusade seek to impose a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint on all Americans through government action.

Americans United, as part of our educational responsibility, regularly monitors the agenda and activities of the Religious Right. We share our research with journalists, elected officials and all Americans who care about church-state separation, democracy and pluralism.

BlueBeaumontBoyz wonders how quickly the IRS will begin an investigation into churches' endorsement of Prop 8 from pulpits across America.

Next time, my friend promises not funble his video/audio recorder and promises to provide the smoking gun.  Kudos to those who are working to preserve democracy in America!

Originally posted to BlueBeaumontBoyz on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 12:39 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm surprised (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fedupcitizen

    A similar effort to repeal our civil unions bill in Oregon FAILED because the churches refused to back it.

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 12:41:36 PM PDT

  •  PFAW had a blurb about this pray-a-thon (5+ / 0-)

    I think.

    I don't think money or all the tea in China will stop Marraige Equality.  That won't dissuade the neo-pente/fundie crowd of course, but as the chimpy Junta gives way to a new President, I think their ability to rely on governmental institutions to do their polkitical bidding will end, and the religious extremeists will be dispatched into the wilderness again.

    For the sake of us all, I hope they are sent away and soon.

    Today, 8/2/08, 4127 Americans, and untold Iraqis are dead, tens of thousands more maimed. Bush lied, how soon before your family pays the price for that?

    by boilerman10 on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 12:46:08 PM PDT

    •  I doubt that will happen (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, boilerman10, Allogenes

      For the sake of us all, I hope they are sent away and soon.

      What I hope is that an increasing number of christians will see the damage the religious wingnuts are doing to our democracy and to religion.
      Their myth based reality is irrelevant to any real world problem - in fact thier mythic reality is one of the real world problems.
      One of my favorite quotes of Thomas Jefferson:

      Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

      "A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy.".... Benjamin Disraeli -8.25 / -5.64

      by carver on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 01:01:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  theocrats mobilize (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.calitics.com/...

    EXCERPT

    Theocrats Mobilize for "Armageddon"
    by: David Dayen

    Aug 02, 2008

    This report of a national conference call to fight Prop. 8 and marriage equality sounds more like a battle plan than a political strategy session.  All the leading figures of the religious right were there, and the language is undeniably militaristic.  I believe that the best way to counteract the theocratic right is to display them in all their radicalism, so the whole country understands the goals of their movement.  So here ya go:

    The primary focus of the call was Proposition 8 in California, described by (Chuck) Colson as "the Armageddon of the culture war." Many speakers invoked the language of warfare, raising up an army of believers, putting soldiers in the streets, being on the front lines of a battle. Lou Engle actually described a massive rally planned in Qualcomm stadium on November 1 as a "blitzkrieg moment."
    While speaker after speaker spoke of the dire threats same-sex married couples pose to "traditional" marriage, religious freedom, and civilization itself, the overall tone of the call was confidence that victory would be won with God's help, 40 days of prayer and fasting before the election, teams of intercessors and prayer warriors around the country, and a massive highly organized deployment of volunteers in a systematic voter identification and turnout campaign.

    This is not exactly the stuff of democracy, nor is it in any way reflective of a country with a separation of church and state.  What is at work here is a putsch, a desire to seize the instruments of power and subjugate everyone to one belief system.  They mobilize through fear, claiming that the next steps in the fiendish plan are to ban the Bible, legalize polygamy, and "destroy marriage".  They're also using supposedly apolitical churches as an illegal communications apparatus:

    Ron Luce from Teen Mania ministries and other organizers talked about plans to organize 300,000 youth and their families for an October 1 simulcast, and using them to reach 2.4 million. A representative of the Church Communication Network, a satellite network that has downlink equipment in 500 churches in California, 95 in Arizona, and 321 in Florida, said it would simulcast the youth event free of charge, and would make a satellite dish available "at cost" to churches who don't yet have one. Said one speaker of the youth organizing, "if we don't use them, Satan will."
    That is manifestly against the spirit of tax-exempt laws regarding churches - laws which I imagine you'll see broken many times between now and November.  The free simulcasting and satellite services amount to in-kind donations.

    People for the American Way is on this and keeping tabs on the theocratic right.  As I said, forewarned is forearmed - there's a growing segment of the state and the country who are repulsed by this fundamentalism, this anti-Democratic dominionism.  We have an opportunity this fall to lay bare the innate bigotry of their movement for all to see.

    UPDATE:  Another aspect to this is the exhuming once again of far-right theocratic icon Alan Keyes, who's running for President again - but only in California, as part of the American Independent Party (formed in 1968 by segergationist George Wallace, which is somewhat ironic).  His running mate is Rev. Wiley Drake, the minister who prayed for the death of members of Americans United for Separation of Church and State last year.  The fundies are lining up, packed in two at a time, and all headed to California in lockstep.  It's going to be crazy out here for the next 95 days.

    The middle class is disappearing, in real ways we're becoming more like a third-world country. - Sen. Bernie Sanders

    by goodacre on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 01:17:20 PM PDT

  •  Here's Donald Wildmon's plea for cash: (0+ / 0-)

    Yeah, I'm on their email list.

     AFA gives $500,000 to help the fight for marriage in California

    Years of savings go to fight the battle

    July 30, 2008

    Dear Bob,

    AFA has given $500,000 to ProtectMarriage.org, the organization leading the fight for the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Proposition 8 defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

    Where did this money come from?

    AFA works on the premise that we have an obligation to be good stewards of the gifts given to this ministry. We don’t buy anything on credit. We have no debt. We are careful to make sure your gifts are used wisely. We are very frugal with your gifts.

    Over the years we have been putting aside some money, knowing that when the need came we would have the funds to meet that need. The $500,000 we gave to ProtectMarriage.org came from those savings.

    The battle for marriage in California is very important. If California defeats Proposition 8, it will open the floodgates for same sex marriage in all the other states. The battle in California isn’t simply about California. It will affect every state, yours included. The homosexual groups have already raised millions, and are expected to spend nearly $20 million to destroy marriage as it has existed for thousands of years.

    That is why we chose to give the money to the group in California fighting the battle. They needed financial support. Your gifts over the years allowed us to provide some help. We thank you.

    Would you help us recoup some of those funds, so that we will have it in reserve when the next big need arises? Please check out what Charity Navigator says about us.

    Would you make a donation of $20? If you can give more, we would greatly appreciate it. If you are unable to contribute, we understand. Your gifts to AFA are tax-deductible.

    Sincerely,

    Don

    Donald E. Wildmon,
    Founder and Chairman
    American Family Association

    "You can't negotiate with reality" - James Kunstler

    by Bob Love on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 01:26:32 PM PDT

    •  I've always thought (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love

      that the Reverand Wildmon was aptly named.

      Prop 8 was losing something like 51-42, last poll I saw.  AG Jerry Brown has run into a lawsuit by those who would tell us how to live our lives regarding the language he proposes to define the prop, and the state has cross-complained.

      This is a good excuse for Obama to not "relax" his CA efforts (looking at CA presidential polls) and make sure his people mobilize the youth vote, which will be important vis-a-vis the Prop 8 result.

      Kick apart the structures.

      by ceebee7 on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 02:33:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tax Deductable? (0+ / 0-)

      I thought contributions to political campaigns were explicitly not tax deductible.  Maybe the IRS should investigate the AFA for abuse of it's non profit status.  Mr. Wildmon is directly soliciting contributions for a political campaign. There's no way the US tax payer should be subsidizing this!

  •  I'm not saying that churches should do so, but I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl

    thought that churches were allowed to endorse ballot proposals. Or are the laws different depending on the state?

  •  Issue advocacy is fine for exempt orgs. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Allogenes, a girl in MI

    So they're not violating their exempt status by supporting the prop.  Morality and decency, yes, but not the rules governing exempt status.

  •  The IRS rules (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Allogenes, a girl in MI

    are against churches engaging in partisan political activity. This doesn't qualify.

    I believe what they're doing is legally permissable.

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