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.

The Pasadena Star-News picked the story up Tuesday, and the Los Angeles Timesfollowed up.

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 ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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