Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

June-09-04

House Bill Eases Ban on Partisan Politics for Churches

An amendment that would reduce the penalties for churches that engage in partisan politics has been tacked on to a major corporate tax-relief bill being fast-tracked in the House of Representatives. Current law allows churches and other tax-exempt 501(c)3 groups to speak out only on political issues and lead non-partisan voter registration drives, but if they endorse candidates or engage in partisan politics their tax-exempt status can be revoked. The so-called "Safe Harbor for Churches" amendment makes special exemptions for religious leaders to engage in partisan political activity, including endorsing candidates, as long as they made it clear they were acting as private citizens and they did not engage in such activity at church functions or using church funds, according to the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, penalties for so-called "unintentional" lapses would be reduced, and a church would not face losing its tax-exempt status until after three violations. "That means you can take the last three Sundays before the election and pass out a voter card and still retain your tax status as a church," Daniel Maffi, communications director for the Democratic minority on the House Ways and Means Committee, told the New York Times.

Just days before the measure was introduced, an email sent by the Bush campaign to members of churches in Pennsylvania was made public. According to the email, the New York Times reports, Bush's campaign headquarters was trying to identify 1,600 "friendly congregations" in Pennsylvania where voters supportive of President Bush could gather on a regular basis. The Times continues that a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania campaign said the email was part of a larger national effort.

"This is a blatant attempt to recruit churches into partisan politics," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "Even worse, this measure tries to make sweeping changes in tax law through the back door and out of public view. I don't think it's a coincidence that this bill will help the Bush campaigns' outreach to churches."

TAKE ACTION Oppose Politicizing Houses of Worship

JOIN the Feminist Majority

Media Resources: Americans United release 6/8/04; Washington Post 6/9/04; New York Times 6/8/03, 6/3/04


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

8/1/2014 Constitutional Court Invalidates Uganda's Anti-Gay Law - Uganda's Constitutional Court today struck down - on procedural grounds - a package of anti-gay policies signed into law this February by President Yoweri Museveni, but left room for lawmakers to attempt to pass the law, or another version of it, again. Ten petitioners, including activists, academics, advocates, and MPs, challenged the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act in court, claiming that it was passed improperly and violated the constitutional rights of Ugandans to live free from discrimination and with privacy and dignity. . . .
 
8/1/2014 Congress Introduces Legislation to Protect Students from Sexual Assault - A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill Wednesday that aims to address the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. The Campus Accountability and Safety Act, cosponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Dean Heller (R-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), focuses on steps colleges can take to proactively protect students. . . .
 
8/1/2014 A Call for Action to Reduce Gun Deaths Among Victims of Domestic Violence - Over 250 people gathered inside the Dirksen Senate building on Wednesday to support legislation aimed at decreasing intimate partner homicide through gun violence. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) chaired the standing-room only Senate Judiciary Committee hearing - which required an overflow room - and was joined by Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. . . .