Besides big-dog Christian leaders like James [whomp your kids] Dobson, Jerry [Teletubby] Falwell and Pat [anybody know an assassin?] Robertson with their mega-media audiences, pastors at churches across the country roused their flocks and got them to the polls to vote for George W. Bush.
But one man on one day in one church in California gave a sermon which did not back Bush.
And thus it came to pass that the Internal Revenue Service started an investigation, threatening the tax-exempt status of the church.
'Antiwar Sermon Brings IRS Warning
'On June 9, [All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena] received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax exempt as a church ..."
'The letter went on to say that "our concerns are based on a Nov. 1, 2004, newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times and a sermon presented at the All Saints Church discussed in the article."' [LA Times 11/07/2005] (Story links open in new windows)
So nobody at the IRS had even heard the sermon (the smell of brimstone would have given them away) - they only read about it, but decided to go after the church!
The church is not going to turn the other cheek on this, because it's too important:
'California Church Vows to Fight IRS Investigation of Sermon
'"There's much more at stake than All Saints in this " investigation, said [Rector J. Edward] Bacon. "I think it's a defining moment about religious freedom in the United States."
'Bacon said the IRS asked for supporting documents in its letter, which the church provided. Then the agency offered a deal: if the church would say it violated the regulations and promise to comply in the future, the IRS would drop its investigation.
' The church replied that it had not broken any regulations.' [Beliefnet.com 11/08/2005]
The Rev. Dr. George Regas gave his position on this issue in an editorial on November 9:
'The won't-be-bullied pulpit
'I gave the sermon on the Sunday before the presidential election. It was called, "If Jesus Debated Sen. Kerry and President Bush." In it, I took great care to say that I did not want to tell people how to vote, but that I was challenging them to go into the voting booth on Tuesday taking with them all that they knew about Jesus, the peacemaker. To take all that Jesus meant to them and then vote their deepest values.