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

5/27/2015 California Passes Reproductive FACT Act - The California State Assembly passed the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency (FACT) Act yesterday. AB 775, or the FACT Act, passed 48-25 in a vote, and requires that unlicensed facilities in California that provide pregnancy-related services disclose that they are not licensed medical providers. . . .
 
5/26/2015 Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage - Over the weekend, the people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to pass a national referendum legalizing same-sex marriage. Ireland became the first country in the world to pass marriage equality through popular vote on Friday. . . .
 
5/26/2015 Maryland Governor Will Not Veto LGBT Rights Bills - Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) has announced that he will not veto two pieces of legislation protecting LGBT rights passed by the state legislature in March, meaning they will soon become law. The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 743 / HB 862 and SB 416 / HB 838 by wide margins and with bipartisan support on March 24, after which both were sent to the Governor's desk. . . .