Progressive Clergy Take on the Religious Right in Ohio
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 10:38:24 PM EST
One of the major tactics in the political development of the Religious Right over the past few decades has been abuse of the IRS non-profit tax code which, simply put, proscribes electioneering by 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, including churches. Recently, the Alliance Defense Fund, the Scottsdale, AZ-based headquarters for the Religious Right's strategic legal ininitiatives, has encouraged mass law breaking by Religious Right-aligned churches in the run up to the 2008 elections. Not content to have one church do it as a test case challenge to the constitutionality of the law, they want to get maximum  political impact along the way. The main event will be high profile political sermons on September 28th preached in as many churches as they can get.
While Americans United for Separation of Church and State and other eagle- eyed monitors have promised to report any overt transgressions that come to their attention, Rev. Eric Williams, a minister in the mainline United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio will hold a press conference on September 8th, announcing a plan to get progressive clergy to preach about the importance of separation of church and state on Sunday, September 21st.

The United Church News reports

In response to a plan announced by the conservative Alliance Defense Fund to initiate a legal test of IRS limits on electoral political speech by at least 50 pastors on Sept. 28, a UCC church in Columbus, Ohio, is calling for at least 10 times that number to preach on the value of church-state separation on the Sunday prior.

There will be a press conference to announce the campaign on Septebmer 8th in Columbus.

On Aug. 7, Williams sent a letter to clergy colleagues in Ohio, announcing a counter action. Williams is gathering supporters who will publicly ask the IRS to investigate the ADF, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based non-profit organization.

"The promotion of tax fraud, particularly to houses of worship, is not a charitable endeavor," Williams told United Church News. "We believe that the ADF should lose its tax-exempt status."

With the support of the Rev. Robert Molsberry, the UCC's Ohio Conference Minister, Williams is calling for a UCC-led nationwide group of 500 ecumenical, interfaith clergy to use their pulpits on Sept. 21 - one week in advance of the ADF's action - to educate congregations nationwide on why church-state separation is important to ensuring religious liberty.

"I will not use the pulpit of my congregation to serve the interests of any candidate or political organization," Williams said. "I will stand firm in faith for religious freedom."

"I invite you to join me and many other partners in faith to stand firm against this latest attempt by ADF to cross the line and jeopardize the unique role and moral authority that leaders and communities of faith have exercised throughout the history of our nation," Williams wrote to clergy colleagues "I invite you to preach on Sept. 21 about the freedoms that the laws and the Constitution of our nation provide to all leaders and communities of faith."

In addition, on Sept. 8, Williams and an estimated 50 ecumenical, interfaith clergy will hold a press conference in Columbus where they will publicly sign a joint letter to the IRS to "express our concerns and request that the IRS immediately investigate ADF's activities and seek injunctive relief to prohibit ADF from engaging in any further promotion of 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday.'"

As it happens, Williams was among the group of clergy who reported Ohio religious right leaders Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson and their respective churches to the IRS regarding apparent transgressions on behalf of then-GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell (now on the staff of the Family Research Council.)  

This was, as far as I know, an unprecedented act on the part of local ministers who took the prudent and necessary steps to see that the law was appropriately enforced. Parsely and Johnson's overt partisanship cooled down considerably after that.

Whether the current effort will discourage any Religious Right churches bent on violating the law on September 28th remains to be seen. But it is nevertheless a worthwhile effort in response to the bogus persecution narrative of the Religious Right.

Williams said he believes it's important that the UCC take a lead in educating the public about what churches can and can't do with regards to electoral politics. He charges the ADF is teaching falsehoods about church-state separation by insinuating that religious leaders are somehow being "muzzled" from discussing political issues.

"This is simply not true," Williams said. "It is fitting and appropriate for clergy to discuss the political dimensions of moral, ethical and justice issues, even in the middle of an election campaign. But that is not the same thing as specifically telling parishioners who they should vote for and who they should vote against."

Great stuff.

Finally, let's remind ourselves what the IRS says about these things.

"...all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office."

I think separation of church and state is going to be a very big and important issue this year- once (if) people get wind of Palin's real nature.

If we can get that out to the mainstream, then I think people will start realizing the importance of what we've been fighting for, and most (hopefully) will get on board.

Maybe they'll even realize that groups like the ACLU exist to protect EVERYONE, and the "Christian bashing" reputation is false!

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 12:25:07 AM EST

As an Ohio resident, I am glad to see Rev. Williams stepping up to the plate.

by khughes1963 on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 11:58:46 AM EST
I too am glad! ;) ArcheoBob, I'm afraid that the hatred for the ACLU is so ingrained into the RR's worldview, that I don't see them changing their minds any time soon.

by trog69 on Mon Sep 01, 2008 at 02:01:45 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (362 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (185 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (108 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (98 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (110 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (133 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (125 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (84 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (231 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (59 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (156 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (173 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (54 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (56 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (215 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (248 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (96 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (184 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (147 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (146 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (153 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (148 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (125 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (227 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (144 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (84 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (195 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (84 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (109 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (112 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.