(USA Today) - A church-state watchdog group has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the Roman Catholic bishop of Paterson, N.J., violated tax laws by denouncing Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The U.S. tax code is currently abused by certain groups to silence Christians. Though Bishop Serratelli did not mention any candidate by name, his comments sounded close enough, and as a result he's being investigated by the IRS.
In a letter sent to the IRS on Wednesday (Oct. 22), Americans United for Separation of Church and State accused Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli of illegal partisanship for lambasting Obama's support of abortion rights.
In a column posted on the Diocese of Paterson's website and published in its weekly newspaper, Serratelli also compared Obama to King Herod, the biblical monarch who ordered the death of John the Baptist.
The bishop did not refer to Obama by name but only as "the present democratic (sic) candidate."
Under federal tax law, nonprofit groups — including religious organizations — are prohibited from intervening in campaigns for public office by endorsing or opposing candidates...
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Besides this being a classic case of how the tax code is abused to bully Christians in the political realm, I think it's time for Christians to seriously consider forfeiting their tax-exempt status entirely. Granted, this may reduce some charitable giving, but in the end I believe it would accomplish a greater good. By forfeiting tax exempt status, the priests and bishops of the Catholic Church would then be free to endorse and oppose political candidates BY NAME, and I think that's exactly what we need right now.
Everybody knows there is not a single Catholic bishop in the United States who wants Barrack Obama to win this election. Some bishops at the Vatican have been very outspoken against Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in general. It's truly a shame that bishops inside the United States do not enjoy the same freedom of speech as bishops outside the United States. It all has to do with the tax code. Everybody also knows that the IRS is very selective about who it investigates. Catholic and Evangelical clergy are investigated regularly for even the most minor infraction, while liberal Protestant clergy are almost never investigated though their offenses against the tax code are typically much worse. Yes, it's unfair. We can complain about it until "kingdom come" and it's not going to make any difference. I say the U.S. Catholic bishops should pull all American diocese out of tax-exempt status effective last quarter, and then buy a 10 minute spot on all the major networks to address all Catholic Americans and other Christians of good will. Then the bishops could issue a public statement condemning presidential candidate Barack Obama for his stand on abortion, and urge all pro-life Christians to vote for John McCain or some other candidate who is more pro-life.
Alas, that probably won't happen. So I suppose we could just wait until some federal court revokes the tax exempt status of the Catholic Church for some minor offense. Then the bishops will finally be free to do something similar to what I suggested above on a regular basis.