Tag Archives: churches

Election 2008: Churches Across California Today Enjoined Members to Vote for Proposition 8

Portions XPosted 8/3/2008 11:23 AM PDT on MyDesert.com

According to one of my activist friends, a former deacon of a religious extremist church in Utah, who attends an evangelical megachurch in the Coachella Valley in order to monitor its adherence to the tax code as it applies to its tax exempt status, churches across America today began ‘100 Days of Prayer’ against Marriage Equality and cajolled their members and attendees to vote in favor of Proposition 8 and defeat gay marriage at the polls in November.

Proposition 8 is an amendment to the California State Constitution that would ban Marriage Equality and would dictate that marriage is only between ‘a man and a woman.’ Prop 8 is another in a long line of attempts by out-of-state religious extremist organizations that attempts to further the religious extremist agenda as a step towards fomenting theocracy rather than democracy in the United States of America:

(Proposition 8) (a)mends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The measure would have no fiscal effect on state or local governments. This is because there would be no change to the manner in which marriages are currently recognized by the state. (Initiative 07-0068.) (Full Text)

From the pulpit of the church, directly in violation of the principles of the separation of church and state, church leaders discussed the impending vote on Prop 8 and advised members to not only ‘pray’ for the success of the proposition, but to also vote for Prop 8.  My friend advises that in churchspeak, this use of the term ‘pray’ means ‘send money.’

More below the flip…

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has investigated churches that in violation of their tax-exempt status exhort attendees to vote particular ways.  Recently, those investigations have been suspiciously limited to more mainstream, more liberal churches.  It is not against the law for, say, a minister, priest, or rabbi to state how he or she will vote, but it is against the law to encourage attendees to vote in a particular manner.  The most extreme penalty for the latter action is removal of tax-exempt status.

In 2005, the IRS began to investigate All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA and its guest minister, George Regas.  According to National Public Radio, Regas issued a sermon from the pulpit about a hypthetical conversation between Jesus, Pres. George W. Bush, and Sen. John Kerry. For that effort, someone filed a complaint with the IRS, and the IRS threatened to remove the tax exempt status of the church, claiming that Regas’ sermon constituted an endorsement of Kerry. The IRS renewed its investigation in 2006.  However, All Saints Church refused to comply with the investigation.  Finally, in September 2007, the IRS bowed to public pressure and to the church and terminated its investigation.  In response, Rector Ed Bacon demanded that the IRS apologize and that the IRS be investigated.

In an attempt to strengthen democracy and to prevent institution of theocracy in America, more and more progressives and activists are attending religious extremist churches in order to monitor potentially illegal activities.

Americans United: for Separation of Church and State indicates that the greatest threat to the separation of church and state is the so-called ‘Religious Right:’

The single greatest threat to church-state separation in America is the movement known as the Religious Right. Organizations and leaders representing this religio-political crusade seek to impose a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint on all Americans through government action.

Americans United, as part of our educational responsibility, regularly monitors the agenda and activities of the Religious Right. We share our research with journalists, elected officials and all Americans who care about church-state separation, democracy and pluralism.

BlueBeaumontBoyz wonders how quickly the IRS will begin an investigation into churches’ endorsement of Prop 8 from pulpits across America.

Next time, my friend promises not funble his video/audio recorder and promises to provide the smoking gun.  Kudos to those who are working to preserve democracy in America!

Theocrats Mobilize for “Armageddon”

This report of a national conference call to fight Prop. 8 and marriage equality sounds more like a battle plan than a political strategy session.  All the leading figures of the religious right were there, and the language is undeniably militaristic.  I believe that the best way to counteract the theocratic right is to display them in all their radicalism, so the whole country understands the goals of their movement.  So here ya go:

The primary focus of the call was Proposition 8 in California, described by (Chuck) Colson as “the Armageddon of the culture war.” Many speakers invoked the language of warfare, raising up an army of believers, putting soldiers in the streets, being on the front lines of a battle. Lou Engle actually described a massive rally planned in Qualcomm stadium on November 1 as a “blitzkrieg moment.”

While speaker after speaker spoke of the dire threats same-sex married couples pose to “traditional” marriage, religious freedom, and civilization itself, the overall tone of the call was confidence that victory would be won with God’s help, 40 days of prayer and fasting before the election, teams of intercessors and prayer warriors around the country, and a massive highly organized deployment of volunteers in a systematic voter identification and turnout campaign.

This is not exactly the stuff of democracy, nor is it in any way reflective of a country with a separation of church and state.  What is at work here is a putsch, a desire to seize the instruments of power and subjugate everyone to one belief system.  They mobilize through fear, claiming that the next steps in the fiendish plan are to ban the Bible, legalize polygamy, and “destroy marriage”.  They’re also using supposedly apolitical churches as an illegal communications apparatus:

Ron Luce from Teen Mania ministries and other organizers talked about plans to organize 300,000 youth and their families for an October 1 simulcast, and using them to reach 2.4 million. A representative of the Church Communication Network, a satellite network that has downlink equipment in 500 churches in California, 95 in Arizona, and 321 in Florida, said it would simulcast the youth event free of charge, and would make a satellite dish available “at cost” to churches who don’t yet have one. Said one speaker of the youth organizing, “if we don’t use them, Satan will.”

That is manifestly against the spirit of tax-exempt laws regarding churches – laws which I imagine you’ll see broken many times between now and November.  The free simulcasting and satellite services amount to in-kind donations.

People for the American Way is on this and keeping tabs on the theocratic right.  As I said, forewarned is forearmed – there’s a growing segment of the state and the country who are repulsed by this fundamentalism, this anti-Democratic dominionism.  We have an opportunity this fall to lay bare the innate bigotry of their movement for all to see.

UPDATE:  Another aspect to this is the exhuming once again of far-right theocratic icon Alan Keyes, who’s running for President again – but only in California, as part of the American Independent Party (formed in 1968 by segergationist George Wallace, which is somewhat ironic).  His running mate is Rev. Wiley Drake, the minister who prayed for the death of members of Americans United for Separation of Church and State last year.  The fundies are lining up, packed in two at a time, and all headed to California in lockstep.  It’s going to be crazy out here for the next 95 days.