The IRS makes it very clear: Under law, if churches choose (like any other non-profit organization) to file for tax-exempt status, then exchange for tax-exempt status they must agree to these terms:
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.
Churches have a great deal going under the current system. They gather huge amounts of income and hold gigantic amounts of wealth in this country. Despite all that income and wealth, churches don’t have to pay a single penny of income tax. Even though churches benefit from roads, utility provision, police protection, investment insurance and countless other varieties of government provision, they don’t have to pay a single penny of income tax. What a deal! All that a church has to do to get this amazing giveaway of government services without paying a penny of taxes is to agree not to interfere in government elections. It’s a completely voluntary arrangement — if a church wants to interfere in elections, then all it has to do is give up its tax-exempt status and start paying income taxes… just like you and I have to do when we get income. Under IRS rules, any church caught interfering in a political campaign is subject to the revocation of its tax-exempt status.
It’s time for the Jonesville Church of God to lose its tax-exempt status. Pastor Roger Byrd put this campaign message on the church sign for all in Jonesville, South Carolina to see:
Since this came to public attention, Byrd has been trying to backpedal on the big “Obama, Osama. Humm. Are They Brothers?” church sign:
It’s simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ…. I don’t know. See it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim? I don’t know. He says he’s not. I hope he’s not. But I don’t know. And it’s just something to try to stir people’s minds.
Suuuure. Byrd doesn’t know if Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden are brothers. Riiiiight. Byrd doesn’t know if Barack Obama is Muslim. Uh huh… well, no, actually not. Actually, what Byrd is saying is bullshit, and Roger Byrd knows it.
It’s not just Pastor Roger Byrd who has stepped over the line of tax laws by turning his church into an anti-Obama campaign organization. Confronted with the church’s violation of the law, Byrd brought the issue up for a vote, in which the whole congregation reiterated its determination to use church resources to campaign against Barack Obama.
This church wants to keep taking services from the government, keep refraining from paying taxes, and then keep interfering in elections. It’s brazenly unethical and illegal activity, and it’s time for the IRS to intervene and revoke the Jonesville Church of God’s tax-exempt status.