The IRS is responding to complaints? How outrageous!
It'd be so easy to get outraged over the news that the IRS is persecuting All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, for an antiwar sermon. So, so easy.
The fact is, however, there's no real story here. Nobody is really being persecuted. Nobody is being harmed. No actual speech is being limited.
But many, many people are going to be able to cash in on this big time.
For those who missed it, here's the lede in Monday's Los Angeles Times:
The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.
George Regas's sermon (PDF) was pretty standard liberal church stuff, preferring to make up things for Jesus to say rather than preaching about what Jesus and the rest of Scripture really do say. And Regas was critical of both Bush and Kerry: Bush for being a warmongering killer who hates the poor and frightens children, and Kerry for, um, I guess for not standing up to Bush enough.
It's clear that Regas is supporting Kerry over Bush. But he does so with the silly phrases one has to use since Lyndon B. Johnson changed the tax code in 1954: "I believe Jesus would say to Bush and Kerry: 'War is itself the most extreme form of terrorism. President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq.'" (Regas's Jesus repeatedly singles Bush out for criticism but has nothing to say to Kerry directly at any time in the sermon. Poor Kerry: Even Liberal Jesus doesn't pay much attention ...1
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