Friday, September 22, 2006

Press Conference

Yesterday I attended the press conference regarding the IRS action against All Saints. They are not going to comply with the demands of the government. And I say more power to ‘em.

It really felt like an historic moment. I was most impressed by the strong interfaith presence there, those of the Jewish and Muslim faiths standing in solidarity with all those men and women! in collars. They spoke out against what’s happened to All Saints and said that the threat against them was a threat to all people of faith, to all pulpits. One Muslim leader said that intimidation tactics “smell rotten.”

Someone asked if they felt unfairly targeted, since Evangelical Christians pretty much blatantly take credit for electing Bush, and the rector said he gets emails from people across the country, from Evangelicals, saying they can’t understand why we’re being investigated. They say, “You should have heard the sermon at my church last Sunday!” It was pretty amusing.

The thing that everyone was stressing was that this is an attack on freedom of speech and religion. Let me try to explain why. The IRS regulations only say that non-profits cannot align themselves with a particular party or candidate. But All Saints’ didn’t recommend a candidate or a party. The sermon did point out that Bush was responsible for the war in Iraq (which is pretty much a fact) and that as Christians, we are against war. In a really convoluted way, you can say that was campaigning against Bush.

But I liked the way another person put it (I think it was Bacon the rector). He said something like our religion is against terrorism of all kinds and against poverty and against war and against oppression and stands with the dispossessed, the poor, and the downtrodden. Thus, our religion speaks out and teaches about these issues, because they are at the heart of who we are – of who Jesus was. If the government muzzles the church from speaking to these issues, then they are attacking our freedom of religion. Our religion is fundamentally about these things. Without them, we are not able to do God’s work. So saying we can’t talk about them is the same as saying we can’t practice our faith.

Anyway, you can read about the press conference here. Enjoy.

2 comments:

Tom said...

Feminary,

Something's missing here. The sermon was good, even inspiring but, hardly worth the notice of the IRS. I don't get it. Who ordered this 'investigation'? Who's insisting that the IRS embarrass themselves with such a waste of the taxpayers dollars? Is this church the most dangerous enemy from which the IRS must protect the citizens?

Wait! You mean all the real tax dodgers have finally surrendered and the IRS just doesn't have anything to do? That's it isn't it? But why didn't they tell anybody?

If my memory serves me correctly, there was at least one other President, back in the Seventies, that tried to use the IRS for purposes of intimidation. That President resigned. Hmmm. Should there be a trend, here? Use the IRS for political purposes and get impeached? I could go for that.

Thanks for the posts, Feminary. Keep on bloggin'!

The Feminarian said...

Ha ha ha! There was a great article in today's LA Times by columnist Steve Lopez, regarding the action and a reaction by another Pasadena pastor who avidly supported Bush in the election, like WAY avidly. This other pastor hates our politics BUT also thinks the IRS action is nuts. And it turns out, the IRS doesn't care if it's in the pulpit or the study (acc to a USC law prof quoted in the article). So if this guy doesn't get subpoened also then something is definitely up (excuse my horrid spelling, I'm sure that's wrong).

But AS Pas refuses to comment on the whole targeting issue. They simply say there is no hard evidence of their being targeted, and there are other churches under investigation and we don't know their politics. So we can't say for sure. All Saints was just the first to go public with their investigation.