Last night Michele Bachmann accused the Obama administration of conspiracy again:
...we're going to see hearings on Wednesday in the Oversight Committee to try and get some answers from the administration that was continuing to try and push this fiction that it was the video that started all of this violence when in fact it wasn't.Bachmann charged the White House with a "cover up" of the real causes of the wave of violence in in "Libya and Cairo and across the world."
"The Innocence of Muslims" depicts the prophet Muhammad as a fraud, coward, murderer, and pedophile. Rioting in the Middle East began in September after "Innocence of Muslims" became available in Arabic translation uploaded to the Internet early in September of this year.
An attack by rioters on the US embassy in Benghazi took place on September 11. That attack coincided with another attack: an organized and coordinated action against the embassy organized by terrorist militias. (The source for the information about two different attacks on the same day is US intelligence.)
Bachmann is a creature of the national religious right. Bachmann and the Christian Right would love to rewrite the story of "The Innocence of Muslims" and its appalling effect on events in the Middle East to exonerate Muslim-bashers. As usual with Bachmann, the facts don't matter: attacks and protests in response to the "The Innocence of Muslims" occurred around the world in September--not just in Libya.
It's ridiculous to allege that Obama administration foreknowledge (and subsequent coverup) resulted in the wave of violence in response to the film--a wave of violence encompassing September riots in Libya, Yemen, India, Tunisia, Pakistan, etc.
But the Christian Right hates the presidency of Barack Obama and has a political stake in falsely attributing all sorts of evils and conspiracies to his administration. So there she goes...
A news story on Reuters last night reports that hundreds of conservative evangelical pastors are endorsing political candidacies from the pulpit this campaign cycle, openly flouting tax law to do so.
Marcus Owens...former head of the IRS division that oversees tax exempt organizations, cited a 2009 case as a turning point.Over the years I've written a lot about Michele Bachmann's video-recorded appearances at the Living Word Christian Center. But this is the first I've heard of Bachmann's political campaigning in church...
In that case, the agency took action against James Hammond, pastor of the Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, after he endorsed Republican Michele Bachmann for Congress.
The move led to a challenge of the IRS' audit procedure for churches, which the agency lost, and since then there have been no publicly known examples of it taking action against churches.
...leading to a three year old IRS policy of non-intervention in cases where pastors use the pulpit to endorse particular political candidates. Three years of that policy has undoubtedly affected election results around the country.
The Reuters story outlines current US tax law regarding endorsement of political candidates from by churches, supposedly still in force:
Under the U.S. tax code, non-profit organizations such as churches may express views on any issue, but they jeopardize their favorable tax-exempt status if they speak for or against any political candidate.According to Owens, the legal fallout from the Bachmann/Hammond incidents in 2006 became a turning point. There have been no publicly known examples of IRS action against churches defying the law regarding church endorsement of political candidates since the agency was challenged in the wake of the Bachmann/Hammond case.
Non-enforcement of the relevant tax law means that pastors now endorse candidates from the pulpit without fear of losing their tax exemption as religious organizations. Hundreds of pastors are doing just that:
"Pulpit Freedom Sunday" has been staged annually since 2008 by a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom. Its aim is to provoke a challenge from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in order to file a lawsuit and have its argument out in court.The Reuters story also reports that 1,477 pastors are participating in the event and that it has been "dominated" by evangelical fundamentalist churches since its founding.
The event has grown steadily in size, but the IRS has yet to respond - even though the pastors tape their sermons and mail them to the agency.
The bottom line: for years the IRS has been conducting a de facto non-enforcement policy permitting churches to endorse politicians and their political agendas from the pulpit. The churches most interested in doing so are "evangelical fundamentalist" churches.
The effect of a non-enforcement policy dating back to 2009 has probably affected many local elections since then. It will be a factor in this year's elections, too--and not just at the top of the ticket. And the impact of non-enforcement on this year's elections (national, state, and local) can't be determined...until the elections is over.
LINK to the Reuters story:
Here's a summary of Bachmann's appearances at the Living Word Christian Center--the "endorsement from the pulpit" that led to a change in IRS enforcement policy:
In October of 2006, then State Senator Michele Bachmann made at least two appearances in Pastor Hammond's church here in Minnesota to speak to his congregation and broadcast audience. Recordings of the Hammond/Bachmann appearances at Living Word posted to YouTube by the Dump Bachmann blog.
In the recordings, Prosperity Gospel proponent Pastor Mac Hammond is seen and heard making statements to his congregation in support of Michele Bachmann's congressional candidacy. In one of the recordings Hammond acknowledges that that his church "cannot endorse any candidate, and would not" but tells the congregation that he, personally, is going to vote for Michele Bachmann. The congregation responds with knowing laughter.
Hammond then introduced Bachmann to the audience. In both of the appearances Bachmann gives her testimony for Jesus Christ, outlining her faith history and the origins of her political career. She uses her testimony to promote her pending candidacy for election to the US Congress, claiming divine inspiration for her political career.
After one of the appearances, Hammond is seen thanking Bachmann for her testimony. He then tells the congregation that voter registration tables are in the lobby of the church and that this is their last chance to register to vote at the church. He goes on to say:
Because it is important, I said, important, that we put men and women of God in office in our government, Amen. And I don't want any more letter about "church and politics don't mix." If that's your opinion, then you need to get saved. Because the Bible makes it clear that we are to have an effect on the world in which we live. Amen. Glory to God.ACTION LINK: This nut has already enhanced the power of conservative fundamentalists to influence election results and put partisan politics firmly into religious doctrine. How long can we permit her to keeping doing this? Please give to her opponent, Jim Graves: