Secular Group Files IRS Complaint Against Terry Jones Church

Categories: Religion
A group says it filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service yesterday over the recent actions of Terry Jones' Dove World Outreach Center, which hanged an effigy of Obama outside of its church earlier this month. The D.C.-based group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, says the Jacksonville church is participating in partisan political activism, which makes it ineligible for its tax-exempt status.

Statements Jones gave in a New Times interview were included as evidence; Jones said the gallows display was "a symbolic action saying we do not, of course, want him re-elected. It is death -- of course, not to him. To his political career."

Americans United Executive Director Barry Lynn wrote:
If these were Jones' private activities in opposition to the president, they would not be a violation of the law. But the situation is more complex. In this case, it appears that Jones has utilized the church to express his opposition to Obama's candidacy. The gallows containing the effigy -- a clear sign not to vote for Obama -- are on the church's lawn. I believe this alone constitutes a violation of the Internal Revenue code, which bars houses of worship and other tax-exempt 501(c)(3) entities from endorsing or opposing candidates.
He also notes that Jones himself is (technically) running for president and that the church's website links to Jones' "Stand Up America Now" campaign, "Terry Jones for President ~ Real American, Real Hope."

A spokeswoman for the church said she "didn't know anything about" the complaint.

"I don't really have a response," she said when asked whether she thought the church was in violation of IRS code. "You see what we do."

The section of the IRS website dealing with referrals against tax-exempt organizations says the agency "gives serious consideration to complaints made alleging the abuse of the tax exempt status granted to certain organizations" and has a stringent investigation process for reacting to possible violations.

Here's the letter from Americans United:

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John Clonch
John Clonch

if someone did something like this when Bush was president they would have been sent to a terrorist camp some of the so called christians are giving christianity a bad name will the IRS do anything about it? I doubt it. the repulicans want politics dragged into the church. political religion is the devil's work. then they wonder why church attendance is off


When did People United appoint themselves the secret police? Are they sending agents into all of our churches to make sure no one exercises their free speech rights? Are their members in your neighborhood keeping an eye on you too? This is proof that the left wing is actively trying to repress free expression of any kind except what they sanction. This is the socialist/fascist mentality in action. Doesn’t this send a chill down your spine? Any American who really cares about freedom of speech and religion in this country should be outraged. The IRS anti-free speech laws are unconstitional. If this gets to the Supreme Court, Jones’s church will likely win against this attack by the totalitarians.

Prof. G
Prof. G

Terry Jones is just a tiny piss ant in politics. I say go after the serious players. I'd start with Coral Ridge "Ministries". Remember their "documentary" film against socialism in government, which interviewed such experts as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee? You tell me why evildoers like this such have a religious tax deduction. Whatever happened to render unto Caesar ...?

Pete Pepper
Pete Pepper

Good idea.  If it works it forms a precedent in order to go after these 'religious" groups that so enjoy messing around in our political system.  Maybe they will be able to go after the 700 Club next. 

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