Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is calling on the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a Catholic church in Illinois after a bishop made some pointed remarks during a homily about White House policies attacking religious liberties.
“We decided to send a letter after reading press accounts about Bishop (Daniel) Jenky’s sermon in which he compared President Obama to Stalin and Hitler, and then linked the issues that he was expressing concern about to the upcoming election,” said Rob Boston, a senior policy analyst with the group. “And we felt that if you look at the whole package of the sermon that it amounted to a violation of federal law, and we asked the IRS to look into that.
“In cases like this, the church should have its tax exemption revoked.”
So far, the IRS has not responded to Americans United’s April 19 letter. But if it does, the Thomas More Society has offered free legal help to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.
“The content of what he said had to do with the current administration’s efforts to suppress religious freedom. And he was protesting about it, to do what they could to stop it.” said President Tom Brejcha. “Why should the bishop be muzzled? Why can’t he speak out to protect what he believes is a vital right of conscience?”
Last December, U.S. Rep. Walter Jones introduced a bill seeking to repeal the Johnson Amendment — the law empowering the IRS to revoke churches’ tax-exempt status when religious leaders speak about political issues from the pulpit. It is currently pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sent to the IRS.
Read H.R. 3600.
Learn more about the Alliance Defense Fund’s Pulpit Initiative.