The Return of Deja Vu All Over Again: L.A. Times Yet Yet Yet Again Gives Us The Myth of the Church Whose Tax-Exempt Status Was Threatened Over an Anti-War Sermon
It’s so wonderful to have the L.A. Times treat us once again to the Myth of the Church Threatened with Losing Its Tax Exempt Status Over an Anti-War Sermon.
In an article yesterday titled Pasadena Church Wants IRS Apology, the local rag reports:
[Rev. George F.] Regas did not instruct parishioners whom to support in the presidential race, but his suggestion that Jesus would have told Bush that his preemptive war strategy in Iraq “has led to disaster” prompted a letter from the IRS in June 2005 stating that the church’s tax-exempt status was in question.
- Jesus hates war.
- Jesus specifically hates the Iraq war. He thinks it is terrorism, and that Bush does not care about Iraqi children the way he cares about Americans.
- Jesus dislikes tax cuts. (A previous letter from the IRS specifically noted that Regas described tax cuts as “inimical to the values of Jesus.”)
- Jesus does not like Bush’s nuclear weapons policies.
- Jesus is pro-choice.
- Jesus favors government involvement to ensure adequate pre-natal care, “dignified jobs,” and affordable housing.
In short, Regas’s sermon was one huge advertisement for the policies of John Kerry, and against those of George W. Bush.
The latest article says:
In its latest letter to All Saints, dated Sept. 10, the IRS said the church continues to qualify for tax-exempt status but that Regas’ sermon on Oct. 31, 2004, amounted to a one-time intervention in the 2004 presidential race. The letter offered no specifics or explanation for either conclusion, but noted that the church did have appropriate policies in place to ensure that it complied with prohibitions on political activity.
Of course, if the IRS did offer specifics or explanation, the L.A. Times would hide it from you. That’s exactly what they’ve done virtually every single time they have written about this issue. Why change anything now?
UPDATE 9-24-07 7:12 a.m.: The version I quote above was apparently a first draft. The final version is now available and is on the paper’s front page today. It is little different in content. Here’s the relevant passage about why the IRS targeted the church:
One of Southern California’s largest and most liberal congregations, All Saints came under IRS scrutiny after a sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election by a guest speaker, the Rev. George F. Regas. In his sermon, Regas, the church’s former rector, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-presidential candidates George W. Bush and John F. Kerry.
Regas did not endorse either candidate, saying that “good people of profound faith” could support either one. But he strongly criticized the war in Iraq and said that Jesus would have told Bush that his preemptive war strategy in Iraq “has led to disaster.”
The story contains none of the other blatant anti-Bush sentiments expressed in the sermon, and the tenor of the story is that the church was wronged — but had the nerve to stand up for itself.
And so the truth is, once again, gravely distorted by this rag of a paper.