COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Local clergy from nine mainstream denominations have accused two evangelical churches of illegal political activities involving an Ohio candidate for governor and want the Internal Revenue Service to investigate, The Columbus Dispatch reported Monday.
The 31 religious leaders met Sunday night and signed a letter asking the IRS to determine if the churches should lose tax-exempt status over what they claim to be improper campaigning for Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican.
The Rev. Rod Parsley of World Harvest Church in Columbus and the Rev. Russell Johnson of Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster improperly used their churches and affiliated entities for partisan politics, according to the complaint to be faxed to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson...
Mark Youngkin, a spokesman for Parsley, disputed the voter registration allegations in an e-mail to The Dispatch, saying the efforts were conducted "without regard to political affiliation."
Johnson told the newspaper that his church and its affiliate, the Ohio Restoration Project, do not support candidates.
"It's sad to see the religious left and the secular left forge an unholy alliance against people of faith," Johnson said. "We have invited people to pray, to serve and to engage, and candidly, we will not be intimidated or bullied by these folks."
John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron, said the complaint was unusual because it wasn't filed by watchdog groups that routinely monitor church and state issues.
"This complaint is detailed and complex enough that I think the IRS is going to say, 'We better look into this,'" said Green, author of the book "Religion and the Culture Wars."
So all people in the religious center and left aren't people of faith? I mean, it's not an apt characterization for most US Buddhists (while we have a level of confidence in the efficacy of practice, it just isn't the same thing as "believing" that "God created the world in 6 days).
But I'd say it characterizes most mainstream religious types.