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.


“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 is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.