Washington, February 24– In response to the Internal Revenue Service report released today, which examines partisan political activity by tax-exempt organizations during the 2004 election cycle and lays out new guidelines and procedures for the 2006 elections identifying which types of political activities might jeopardize the tax-exempt status of houses of worship, The Interfaith Alliance released the following comments by the Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, leader of the interfaith movement’s national advocacy voice.

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“In recent elections, we have witnessed and alerted Americans to the increased manipulation of religion by political groups for partisan political purposes and manipulation of government by religious groups for sectarian purposes,” Gaddy said.

“These activities threaten the sanctity of religion and damage the integrity of our democracy.

 

“Religious leaders should speak to moral issues in a non-partisan manner, not attempt to control government or influence who is elected.  They must not use their freedom of speech to divide their congregations — or America — with partisan political activity. Houses of worship have a vital role to play at election time, informing and educating on issues. It is good to urge congregants to vote, however, they must not be told how to vote. 

 

Noting that the IRS initiative deals with both prevention and enforcement, Gaddy said, “We hope that the new procedures will allow the IRS to respond more quickly to alleged infractions and to better educate and inform houses of worship in advance about how to stay in compliance with the law and to ensure they don’t lose their tax-exempt status.”

 

IRS press release: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=154780,00.html


Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visitwww.interfaithalliance.org.