American churches enjoy tax exemption on the questionable grounds that they serve a public good in the way that most charitable organizations do. However, this exemption is supposed to be contingent on churches refusing to endorse political candidates and encourage their members to vote for these candidates. We are right to be suspicious of the degree to which churches conform to this legal requirement.
According to Georgia's WTVM, the Christian Coalition of Alabama mails a 76-item questionnaire to state political candidates asking about their stand on a variety of issues. Why? "Candidate responses will be used in the coalition's voter guide." Of course, the Christian Coalition is not exactly a church so perhaps this is acceptable. However, WTVM goes on to state, "The voter guide will be distributed in churches across the state before the November Seventh general election."
As bad as this sounds, the head of the Alabama's Christian Coalition says that we should not be concerned. "He says the purpose is to educate voters about where candidates stand on various issues and it is not intended to be an endorsement of individual candidates." Yeah right! This guy must figure that if most of his state believes in an invisible sky daddy that they'll buy this nonsense too.
Not surprisingly, Democratic legislators are not happy with being asked to complete a survey which will almost certainly be used to bolster their opposition. The strange thing is that the report makes no mention of the tax exemption issue which is supposed to come up when churches start distributing voter guides and instructing their members how to vote.
Want to do something about this? Signing this petition would be a good start.
Tags: religion, church, Alabama, politics, Christian Coalition, taxes