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All Saints’ Rev. Bacon Takes On the IRS

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Posted on Sep 19, 2006
Rev. Ed Bacon
Courtesy All Saints Church

The Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif. The IRS is investigating the church for the political content of its sermons dating back to 2004. The U.S. tax code bars churches from endorsing candidates in an election.

By Rev. Ed Bacon

(Page 2)

For pulpits in the USA to become even more neutral than they already are will make religion even more of a problem than it is already. Jesus proclaimed that religion too frequently is not a part of the solution. Too often religion is not only a part of the problem. It is the problem. Jesus said that religious institutions can become like salt that has lost its flavor. It?s only good then is to be thrown away.

The Book of Revelation (Chapter 3) speaks of the Church of Laodicea that had become so bland, so ineffectual, so callous to human suffering, so cowering before the saber rattling of the empire of the day, so lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, that God said, ?I will spew you out of my mouth.? That is exactly what happens to churches and other faith communities that do not stand up, speak up and act up when human beings are not treated with the dignity and honor due those who bear the image of God.  The fundamental commandment that pulsates at the core of our being is a threefold love: to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Love of neighbor is never neutral.

I have known a lot of faith communities who think religion consists only of beautiful worship, saying one?s prayers, all the while hermetically sealed in ignoring those forces which are destroying the least of these. All Saints will always invest great resources in movingly beautiful worship. That is often how the heart is opened and moved. At the same time we will never ask someone to check their conscience or their courage at the door. We stand in the prophetic tradition where movingly beautiful worship is valuable only to the degree that it heals the human heart and then empowers the people to daring action on behalf of the oppressed.

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In our lesson from the Hebrew scriptures this morning (Isaiah 50: 4-9a), the prophet says, ?God wakens me every morning, wakens my ear to listen like a student.? Listen to God speaking through the prophet Isaiah (1: 14-17), speaking to us the students of God:

14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
my soul hates.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Because your hands are full of blood;
16 wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,
17 learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of those without parents,
plead the case of those who are widowed.

Listen to the prophet Amos when he speaks for God (Amos 5: 21, 23-24):

I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll down like a river,
and righteousness like a never-failing stream!

That is the prophetic tradition that tells us that we have no choice about the matters of justice. When Jesus preached his inaugural sermon in his hometown of Nazareth, the reading from which he preached was from the prophets—Isaiah 61 to be exact. This shows that of all the traditions and theologies in Hebrew scripture, Jesus was grounding his ministry in the prophets and their tradition. Here is the account.

Luke 4: 14-21

Jesus stood up to read.
17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 ?The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because she has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord?s favor.?
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
21 and he began by saying to them, ?Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.?

Psalm 15 has been summarized by some scholars as saying this, ?Those who do justice dwell in the presence of the Lord.?

My friends, there is something about a moral argument that clarifies the mind about why we do what we do. And I have never felt more energized and joyful than I do this morning about expressing with passion what is at stake in this argument we have with the IRS.  And my heart is filled with hope that there are millions of Americans who are standing with us and will stand with us in the claim that loving your neighbor as yourself has no place for neutrality and silence in the face of anything that demeans another human being.

Whenever I am tempted to despair, tempted to think I am in this work alone, I think of the following quotation from Robert F. Kennedy. It both gives me hope and shows me how justice rolls down like water and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.

?It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.  Each time a man/woman stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he/she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance?. I believe that ? those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the world.?
(Robert F. Kennedy, quoted in ?Make Gentle the Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy,? edited by Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, p. 133)

Welcome home, my friends. Happy Homecoming.  Let us never forget that our true home is the heart of God, where each of us is loved just as we are and each of us is given this beautiful, energizing, audacious gift to resist any efforts to dehumanize others or to block God?s dream of turning the human race into the human family.

Amen.



The Rev. Ed Bacon is the rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif.—a 3,500-member multiethnic urban Episcopal parish.


New and Improved Comments

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By Anonymous, October 28, 2006 at 8:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Greetings fellow believers!!

First of all, I would like everyone to read these verses from the Holy Scriptures:


8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[a]is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

Ephesians 5:8-13 (New King James Version)


In this passage of scripture, it specifically tells us as followers of the LORD that we are to EXPOSE the “unfruitful works of darkness” — Did you catch that??  This is not an option.  As the body of Christ, we have the responsibility to EXPOSE those things that our Politians are doing which are UNLAWFULL, IMMORAL, UNETHICAL, etc… in order that WE THE PEOPLE may be able to make informed decisions at the voting polls.

Now the reason why this 501(c)3 “non-profit religious organization” also known as “All Saints Church” is running into legal problems is because of the CONTRACT that they have entered into with the STATE and with the IRS.

I would recommend visiting the following website:

http://hushmoney.org/501c3-facts.htm

This website does a wonderful job of educating it’s visitors on the problems of acquiring a 501(c)3 legal status for Churches.

For a solution to this whole problem, go to:

http://hushmoney.org/free-church_solution.htm


In closing, read these scriptures for counsel:


1Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

2That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!

3Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.

Isaiah 30:1-3 (King James Version)

 


1Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!

2Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.

3Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.

Isaiah 31:1-3 (King James Version)

 

 

 

5Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

6For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

7Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

8For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

10I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 17:5-10 (King James Version)

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By elizabeth milton, October 11, 2006 at 4:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sir


First let me use this medium to introduce myself, I am MRS ELIZABETH ALBERT MILTON
from BO district north of Freetown SIERRA LEONE west Africa from the family of late
SIR MILTON MARGAI the FIRST PRIME MINISTER OF SIERRA LEONE whom was my husbands
great grand father.

MY late husband DR ALBERT MILTON before his death he hold a very sensitive position
in PRESIDENT TEJAN KABBAHS government in SIERRA LEONE, My husband has a bullet shot
by the rebels west side boys on his way to LUISA a border town between sierra Leone
and Liberia, He was later conveyed to Abidjan LA- COTEDIOVRE for a medical treatment
wherein he later died, in the hospital bed my husband reveal and confide in me about
one   metallic box (consignment) deposit that he made with a trust and finance house
in Accra Ghana . Containing ($21,000,000.00) TWENTY ONE MILLION UNITED STATES
DOLLARS.
Nobody in the trust and finance house knows the real content of the metal box
because my husband wisely declared them as artwork and family treasures from the
national museum of monument.

Since the death of my husband the rebel has held us hostage until the recent
intervention of the UNITED NATION SECRECTARY GENERAL MR KOFI ANNAN whom secure a
peace agreement with the rebels that led to our release, all the refugee move to the
GHANA concentrated refugee camp,

I am presently in the refugee camp now seeking for your help and assistance for you
to come to my aid I proposed that you stand as my proxy person that is my late
husbands foriegn partner, so as to get the metal box out of the trust and finance
house, transfer it to your country where we can make use of it in a lucrative
business investment in your country.


This transaction is now only known by you, myself and my only remaining son JOSEPH
ALBERT MILTON whom is now in with me in the camp waiting for the time i get this
fund out of the trust house, the secrecy and confidentiality should be maintained
for the successful transfer of this fund. I will be handing over to you the original
certificate of deposit which the finance house gave to my husband, these fund was
deposited with a secret code not be any name or any person that means it will be
more easy for you to retrieve the fund and I withhold the secret code for security
reasons as you show interest the secret code and the certificates of deposit will be
given to you upon your arrival and held a meeting with me and my mother we can now
proceed to the finance house to retrieve the consignment for investment in your
country

You can reach my son Joseph Albert Milton on this email. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Because my health is not
good for now.

Please send me your private telephone and fax number for more confidential discussions.

Best Regards

MRS ELIZABETH ALBERT MILTON

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By James A. Evans, September 29, 2006 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It amazes me that people are getting hot and bothered over the churches involvement in politics and social reform.  Jesus told his disciples that his kingdom was no part of this world.  He also identified the devil as the ruler of this world.  He taught his disciples to pray for God’s kingdom, to preach about it and to help others to come to an accurate understanding of God’s Word.  Today’s religious organizations have, for the most part lost their way.  According to the scriptures God is not with those that ignore his divine direction.  The true church was given a directive to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself.  The first century church was not involved in politics and remained neutral in political affairs.  When the Jews came to make Jesus their king, he fled the scene.  What message was Jesus sending to any who claim to serve him?

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By Jon B, September 26, 2006 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here is a church follows the teachings of jesus. There are other so called churches love war, bloodshed and lay their dirty hands on just about everything, all in the name of jesus. Of course they are not, they are Satanic cult.

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By Thomas Muir, September 26, 2006 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Please note carefully Section 3512 of the Paperwork Reduction Act. If you need further information let me know.


Paperwork Reduction Act
UNITED STATES CODE
TITLE 44 - PUBLIC PRINTING AND DOCUMENTS
CHAPTER 35 - COORDINATION OF FEDERAL INFORMATION POLICY

————————————————————————————————————————

§ 3512. Public protection

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that is subject to this subchapter if—

(1) the collection of information does not display a valid control number assigned by the Director in accordance with this subchapter; or

(2) the agency fails to inform the person who is to respond to the collection of information that such person is not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a valid control number.

(b) The protection provided by this section may be raised in the form of a complete defense, bar, or otherwise at any time during the agency administrative process or judicial action applicable thereto.

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By Mac Causey, September 26, 2006 at 9:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Churches: EARN your exemptions.  I feel that churches should be taxed as businesses are, but that the taxes should be reduced in accordance to the provable charitable work they have done in a given year, culminating in zero taxes if they give back to the community enough.  Anything less is an abuse of separation of powers and also opens to door to criminal pastors like Benny Hinn living at taxpayer largesse.

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By R. A. Earl, September 25, 2006 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems some Christians take the view theirs is a political as well as spiritual religion and therefore insist on having a role in politics.

If this view is acknowledged as valid then I see no reason governments cannot claim their role and function includes having an influence on the spiritual life of citizens which, of course, includes a place on the board of directors of “political” churches.

This blurs the separation of church and state roles to such a significant extent it essentially negates the notion and the gloves are off.

There’s no reason for tax exemptions and other special privileges to be granted to “political” religions and no reason governments shouldn’t play politics-as-usual (favoritism) with only those religions that choose to “play ball” with the party in power.

The result is chaos for both.

If the “religious” want to retain any legitimate status in society they’d be well advised to keep their noses out of the political arena. What influence they have rests “on a higher plane” at the moment. Blur the lines by plunging into the political gutters and that influence will disappear entirely.

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By MARIAM RUSSELL, September 25, 2006 at 8:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the IRS is to be a watch dog for this admin, then drive around in Chattanooga, Ten. on any day and read the billboards outside the churches. You should find enough to keep you busy into the next millennium….Oh, right, wrong town…...these guys all advocate that their parishioners vote for the reps and send their children as war fodder.

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By jcw, September 24, 2006 at 7:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is anyone going after the churches in the south that support the war? That tell their members to vote FOR Bush? When are we going to tax the 700 Club? Do they keep their fingers out of elections? No, but they say what the current administration wants to hear.

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By Eric Kamm, September 22, 2006 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All Saints Church of Pasadena.  A church that truly tries to follow the ministry of Jesus and reach out to the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the sick, the oppressed and to live life in terms of justice and peace for ALL people.

My partner is a member of All Saints Chuch.  I’ve had the privelege to attend with him on many occasions.  I’ve never seen a church so unified as to its mission.  While this church is often labeled as “liberal” it is indeed not, it is rather about trying to abide by the teachings of Jesus as I noted above.

I happened to have attended the service that sparked this debate during which Rector Emeritus George Regas (a guest speaker) spoke of a hypothetical debate between Jesus, John Kerry and George Bush.  The thrust of it was against both candidates and their deliberate choosing to go to war in Iraq, a country that had done us no injury or harm.  The sermon concluded that Jesus would have opposed going to war, as Jesus taught peace and not war and violence.  This is in keeping with the long tradition of All Saints Church which has always opposed war and violence.  This was not new ground voiced by

For my part, I wonder, of all the churches in this nation, many of them politically conservative and ardent supporters of the GOP, why the IRS has gone after All Saints Pasadena with such intensity.  Many conservative churches have published and distributed voter guides specifically counseling their parishoners to vote GOP.  How many of them are being prosecuted by the IRS?

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I am politically pragmatic.  Such investigations by the IRS and pursued to this degree against churches are rare.  One has to question, where is this coming from?  One has to ask, “Why?”

I think the message is clear, that 2 months before the next election, in which the GOP could very likely lose the control of not one but possibly both houses of Congress, the intent is to send a message to “liberal” Churches to be silent! 

I’m a glad and proud that the Vestry of All Saints Pasadena has unanimously voted to oppose the IRS and have this dispute heard in Court, a venue of public record!  Let the truth be heard.

It is time for all of us to, liberal, moderate, conservative, rich, poor, all races, all faiths, to act upon our beliefs and put them into real practice, not just pay them lip service. 

I wish Rector Ed Bacon and all of All Saints the very best and am confident of their victory.

Eric Kamm

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By ME, September 21, 2006 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All Saints does not apologize for missions and ministries that defend and help the poor, gays and lesbians, the marginalized, and the outcasts. All Saints lives boldly.

It’s David and Goliath all over again. All Saints will stike between the eyes….so watch out IRS.

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By Clinton Weinrich, September 21, 2006 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If I went to a church I would go to this one.

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By kevin99999, September 21, 2006 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I understand the argument of separation between church and state but the notion that churches should stay in the matters of lif and death and social injustices is ludicrous. I wonder how many churches and institutions owned by conservative christians are facing IRS investigations. IRS is abusing its authority to silence the critics…and people should not allow that.

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By Wayne Smyer, September 21, 2006 at 3:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Check the Senate Hearing on Jack Abramoff: John McCain’s questioning of Gale Norton’s 527 group: Italia Federici” Jack Abramoff, Adam Kidan, Murder of Konstantino “Gus” Boulis; Theft of Boulis’s Sun-Cruz Casino Ships;Rep. Bob Ney,R-Ohio
and his role in themurder of Gus Boulis? Why have Alberto Gonzalez and Alice Fisher not recused themselves from the Boulis murder case? WHO ORDERED AND PAID FOR THE MURDER OF GUS BOULIS? STOP THE COVER-UP!PLEASE CHECK IT OUT!

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By john fiorito, September 20, 2006 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s be honest..the only thing in jeopardy is the church’s status as a section 501(c)(3) entity granting it its tax free status (I’m not sure if there are criminal penalties associated with this for those people who made the egregious comments).  This does two things, the church would pay US federal income tax on its net income (and would likely owe property tax to a local city government) and those church members that choose to support the church with financial contributions would not get a deduction on their personal tax returns…I would think that a member of this church that believes in what the church is doing and what it is advocating would still support it regardless of the tax break the government might give them for their contribution…  This goes to the question of whether the government should subsidize religion in this manner to begin with…it may sound ghastly, but that is what they (and us indirectly) are doing…I’m suprised this provision of the Revenue Code hasn’t drawn more attention from those who believe in a strict “church/state” divide….

as with any provision of the tax code that is to your benefit (or you detriment), one must follow the rules for such provision to apply….if not, you don’t get the benefit ..it is as simple as that…if an entity with 501(c)(3) status does not adhere to the principals it agreed to when electing such status, they should have their status revoked and should be subject to federal income tax like the rest of us taxpayers that are effectively picking up their tax bill….

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By Karen Carlson, September 20, 2006 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for your coverage of Ed Bacon’s courage. I was lucky enough to be worshiping at All Saints last Sunday with my teenaged son. He made the apt comparison of Ed Bacon to Thoreau. In response to Tony Sullivan’s remark above, no church I have ever been a part of is more about helping the sick and poor and infirm than All Saints, Pasadena. Needing to respond to the IRS takes precious time away from the service mission of All Saints. Thank you Truthdig.

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By Joan Mortenson, September 20, 2006 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for printing Rev. Bacon’s sermon.  If I were living in Pasadena, I would be going to that church.  Separating the church from political questions would make the church irrelevant in my opinion.  Jesus was a political person and was nailed to the cross by the Roman authorities because he threatened their power and the heirarchies of the day.  A minister I once heard said that we should have the Bible in one hand and the daily paper in the other.

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By Peter, September 20, 2006 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow” - This is a church that epitomizes what Jesus called us to do, to witness, and to make peace “blessed are the peacemakers”.  It makes me proud to be an episcopalian. 

Of course, I wonder if the IRS will show such a harsh hand to the many conservative chruches that support Bush and the Republicans, even as they promote torture, war and cruelty throughout the world.

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By Paul Moore, September 20, 2006 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The essay below was written after the IRS opened an investigation into the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Miami, Florida just after the 2004 elections. It seems relevant today in light of the attack on Rev. Bacon’s church.

“A fire is burning hotter every day in the state of Florida. This fire is much like that set by the former slave owners and their terrorist arm, the Ku Klux Klan, against the post-Civil War Reconstruction. Yesterday and today the racist arsonists seek to destroy any semblance
of African-American political power.

Prior to the 2004 elections, Florida’s Gov. Jeb Bush attempted to reprise the so-called felons list which so effectively suppressed the Black vote in the 2000 election. Bush took active measures to keep the 2004 list in the shadows. His motivation in that regard became clear when media outlets petitioned the courts and the list was forced into the light. The names of more than 22,000 African-Americans appeared on the list of 47,763 alleged felons. Meanwhile, 61 Hispanics were listed.

For three decades beginning in the 1950’s Black Miamians were empowered through Charles R. Hadley’s Operation Big Vote. So revered is Hadley, a public park and public elementary school proudly bear his name. But the Charles R. Hadley of the Orlando area, the director of the Orange
County Voters League, Ezzie Thomas, today stands accused of a crime in Bush’s Florida. Thomas’ activism and an unprecedented Black voter
turnout was a major factor in the shocking political upset on Feb. 25, 2003 that made Buddy Dyer the first Democratic mayor of Orlando in
history. Thomas helped Dyer be reelected on March 9, 2004.

Shortly after Dyer’s victories agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) descended on the homes of elderly and infirmed Black absentee voters. Several of those interrogated reported later that agents hiked up pants legs or in some other manner displayed firearms. The FDLE message of intimidation hardly less subtle than a burning cross but Ezzie Thomas went back to work and again turned out large
numbers of African-Americans on Nov. 2, 2004. Ezzie Thomas was taken into custody on March 11, 2005 and paraded through a phalanx of news
cameras to the jailhouse. To paraphrase the charge against Thomas, he believed Black people had the right to vote. It harkens back to Election Day in 1920. Then a white mob laid siege to the black town of Ocoee, not far from Orlando, after a Black man, allegedly carrying a weapon, demanded his right to vote. Ocoee was burned to the ground and
half-a-dozen residents killed.

Back in Miami, the Internal Revenue Service is trying to settle another score with Black voters. The IRS, fresh off its attack on the NAACP,
has opened an inquiry into the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and its pastor, Rev. Gaston Smith. The IRS has the power to effectively
burn down this Black church by revoking its tax exempt status. The church’s crime? Rev. Smith dared to receive presidential hopeful John
Kerry at an October Sunday prior to the 2004 election. The persons who complained to the IRS? Their identities are protected by the IRS in the
same manner that hoods once kept racist marauders anonymous.”

P.S. Frienship Missionary fought the government’s inquisition and the IRS concluded the investigation without bringing charges against the church. All charges against Ezzie Thomas were eventually dropped.

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By Jean Tracy, September 20, 2006 at 10:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jesus’ prayer was:  Pray that “thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” 

Thanks for your courage in obeying the prayer. 

Jean Tracy

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By tomack, September 20, 2006 at 9:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a follow up, the IRS has yet to contact this church.


N.C. Church Kicks Out Members Who Do Not Support Bush

Associated Press
Sunday, May 8, 2005; Page A12

WAYNESVILLE, N.C., May 7—Some in Pastor Chan Chandler’s flock wish he had a little less zeal for the GOP.

Members of the small East Waynesville Baptist Church say Chandler led an effort to kick out congregants who did not support President Bush. Nine members were voted out at a Monday church meeting in this mountain town about 120 miles west of Charlotte. Forty others in the 400-member congregation resigned in protest.

Nine members were voted out of the church May 2 at Pastor Chan Chandler’s urging, members say. Forty others quit in protest. (By Andre A. Rodriguez—Associated Press)

“He’s the kind of pastor who says ‘Do it my way or get out,’ ” said Selma Morris, the former church treasurer. “He’s real negative all the time.”

Chandler told WLOS-TV in Asheville on Friday that the actions were not politically motivated, but on Saturday he refused to comment, citing the advice of his attorney.

During the presidential election last year, Chandler told the congregation that anyone who planned to vote for the Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), should either leave the church or repent, former member Lorene Sutton said.

Some church members left after Chandler made his ultimatum in October, Morris said.

George Bullard, associate executive director-treasurer for Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, told the Asheville Citizen-Times that a pastor may disallow memberships if a church’s bylaws allow the pastor to establish criteria for membership.

“Membership is a local church issue,” he said. “It is not something the state convention would enter into.”

He added that the nine members were not legally terminated, because Monday’s meeting was supposed to be a deacons meeting, not a business meeting. They have a lawyer looking into the situation, he said.

The head of the North Carolina Democratic Party sharply criticized the pastor Friday, saying Chandler jeopardized his church’s tax-free status by openly supporting a candidate for president.

“If these reports are true, this minister is not only acting extremely inappropriately by injecting partisan politics into a house of worship, but he is also potentially breaking the law,” Chairman Jerry Meek said.

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By Tomack, September 20, 2006 at 7:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bravo All Saints, Bravo Rev. Bacon. The last time I looked out the window I was still living in America. I think. The IRS, and more importantly, those who have been pushing them in this matter, must be in the middle of a Rod Serlingesque script, whereby all the usual laws of society—and good sense—have been warped.

The IRS must be busy if we consider all of the churches that publically backed Bush during the last two elections. Most notably in the southern states.

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By Alex Reza, September 20, 2006 at 7:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for reprinting Ed Bacon’s sermon of last Sunday.  I was fortunate to have been at All Saint’s last week; Bacon’s sermon was one of the most moving and inspiring sermons I have heard anywhere.  In some ways it brought to mind the words and ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.

Alex

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By Dean Pettit, September 20, 2006 at 5:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Paying their share of taxes will not silence churches.  It will only put them under the same financial restraints as everyone else who wishes to be politically active.

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By Richard Stayton, September 20, 2006 at 5:34 am Link to this comment
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I’m a member of All Saints Church but, alas, missed this past Sunday’s service due to family obligations elsewhere. I’m also, alas, not surprised by the IRS actions, in particular because I’ve just concluded researching an essay on the book and film of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s “All the President’s Men.” During those reporter’s investigation of the 1972 Watergate burglery of the national Democratic headquarters, it was revealed that the Nixon White House administration was actively pursuing a take-over of the IRS to exploit as a weapon against those perceived opponents on their “enemies list.” Thirty years later, you can still dig out the truth by “following the money.” Therefore, as a parishioner I will do the one thing that is the best response to the current administration’s intrusion into the freedom of religion: I am giving money to the church. Today. And every month, a set amount. I believe the IRS still allows that as a tax-deduction.

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By tony sullivan, September 20, 2006 at 4:34 am Link to this comment
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your sermon signifies that you have truly lost the flavor of your sold and that you should throw out those words that do not fulfill the mossion of a church -
my idea of a church is that its business is salvation for its parishoners - that it should be about helping the sick the poor and the infirm - helping persons who are in crisis about their faith - leave politics to those that have shown to have no morals or faith in god -

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