Do I hear the sound of jack-boots marching in lock-step down the hallowed halls of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service?
I certainly hope not. But I have to confess that I'm not really sure.
It seems that a former Rector preached an anti-Iraq War sermon at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, shortly before the Presidential election.
According to reports, the preacher did not endorse either Bush or Kerry. Nonetheless the IRS has apparently found cause to threaten the church with the loss of its tax-exempt status.
In a strange twist of logic, the IRS told the church that, if it admitted to violating the tax law and apologized, they would not press charges. The church, however, believing it had done nothing wrong, refused to go along with that line of "plea bargaining."
As a pastor who preaches every week I feel totally free to say anything I want concerning matters of biblical, moral relevance. Because my congregation is a diverse one, I rarely "take sides" on issues that are not clearly discernible in scripture. But I will stand in support of any minister who, out of personal conviction and conscience, declares his/her prophetic word of judgment upon any matter of social or political practice or policy that they believe to be sinful and unjust in light of the Gospel.
I have made it known that I believe abortion to be a sin...always. I have made it known that I believe that divorce is also a sin.....(almost) always. I have made it known, even though 15 members of my congregation have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan during the past two years, that war is always a participation in sin....always, always, always.
I have never, however, publicly endorsed one political candidate over another. But I have made it clear that I (along with my church Session) supported an amendment to the Hawaii State Constitution that made it explicit that civil marriage would only be permitted between one man and one woman. This was made clear in the month preceding the state-wide vote on this issue (which, by the way, passed nearly 70% to 30%).