Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, September 22, 2006

Liberal Episcopal Church in Battle with IRS

All Saints Episcopal Church Won't Comply With IRS Probe

Pasadena's All Saints Episcopal parish board challenges a request to turn over documents in a case over a 2004 antiwar sermon.By Louis Sahagun, Times Staff Writer September 22, 2006

A liberal Pasadena church on Thursday declared that it will refuse to comply with an IRS investigation into its tax-exemption status launched after a guest speaker was critical of President Bush in a sermon.

At a news conference attended by 50 cheering supporters gathered before the marble altar at All Saints Episcopal Church, the Rev. Ed Bacon said his 3,500-member congregation did not violate tax regulations barring tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates when a former rector, George F. Regas, criticized the Bush administration two days before the 2004 presidential election.
The Episcopal faith, the 58-year-old rector said, "calls us to speak to the issues of war and poverty, bigotry, torture, and all forms of terrorism … always stopping short of supporting or opposing political parties or candidates for public office."
This will be an interesting case to watch. It is not a free speech issue it is a tax status issue. You can read his sermon which is certainly slanted against Bush and therefore toward John Kerry but also gives some disclaimer about voting for your own morals. [Pdf not working at the time of this writing the site may be overly busy today, their whole website seems slow.]

An example from the sermon where the pastor assumes Jesus would not say anything against the killing of unborn babies but rather would decry those who care about the unborn yet don't provide cradle to grave care for those who are born. In other words Jesus uses the same arguments as the Democrats.

If Jesus entered this debate, I think these words might come from his lips: “Shame on all those conservative politicians in the nation’s Congress and in State Legislatures who have for years so proudly proclaimed their love for children when they were only fetuses—but ignored their needs after they were born.”

Yes, yes Jesus admonishes us. “It is the cruelest irony how so many of these antiabortion politicians have no interest in the things that make a newborn child healthy and beautiful. It violates every standard of decency to force a poor woman to have a child, and then deny her good prenatal care.”

All of this needs to be part of our thinking on November 2nd. Conservative politicians
with the blessing of the Religious Right have strongly advocated the dismantling of social programs that provide a decent life for children once they enter this world. The ultimate test of a society is the kind of world it creates for its children. And what we have allowed to happen to children in America is a moral scandal and breaks the heart of God. No matter what rhetoric is used, any public policy that makes a child’s life more miserable is an abomination before God.

On November 2nd vote all your values. Bring a sensitive conscience to that ballot
box.

8 comments:

Alexander said...

Hey Ron,

Sorry you had to struggle to look for your volume control, but hey, the Spectrum Blog is all about introducing folks to new things.

Johnny said...

Is it the duty of the state to promote a culture of life?

George Bush would say that not only should the state promote a culture of life, the state should fund church groups that do good work in society up to and including creating a cabinet level post.

The question is not "if" the state should regulate its citizens life cycle but "how" and to what extent.

When Christians go to Washington to promote a culture of life, we recognize that this culture encompasses far more than one or two issues. Bush recognizes this, Evangelicals recognize this- Christians liberal and conservative agree that faith should impact policy.

A Christian culture of life is all encompassing and goes far beyond conception, birth and death or contraceptives, abortion or euthanasia.

We are called to fight starvation- American Christianity has been very vocal politicking the government to stop the crisis in Sudan. I can go on and mention slavery, prostitution and other issues Christians have lobbied hard on and done great things in changing government policy.

That sermon was not arguing what you say it was- it was promoting the holistic all encompassing call which makes up this culture of life and is not arguing in favor of abortion but indeed sought to extend the logic that prompted Christian activism in defense of unborn life to life itself- those years between birth and death.

Your problem is that you assume people like this preacher are pro-abortion. Jim Wallis is pro-life and he is the leading progressive evangelical.

Johnny said...

Apologies, these tiny comment boxes are quite annoying and I thought I corrected this.

It is the office of faith-based and community initiatives.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/government/fbci/

not a cabinet level post but very significant.

All Saints, and pro-life evangelical Jim Wallis, don't say what you say they are saying. They aren't arguing down the pro-life movement as much as wanting to expand the scope of concern being promoted by the Culture of Life past conception to life itself.

A pro-life Jesus cares about more than just your birth is the message.

Ron Corson said...

Yes Johnny it is just me, I incited the IRS to investigate the church in Pasedena. Come on deal with the facts instead of trying to justify everything. I don't care if you are liberal and think the guy is dead right. But it is hard to argue with the fact that two days before the election this looks like a political speech for the democrats.

I don't see how a quote posted by me indicates as you say that I "Your problem is that you assume people like this preacher are pro-abortion. "

I gave my impression of how his statement is consistent with talking points of the democrat party. Certainly if he was pro-life he should have said something about that in his statement. The problem it appears is that you hear what you want to hear.

Ron Corson said...

I should have also noted that the sermon in question is not by Jim Wallis but A sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. George F. Regas, Rector Emeritus October 31, 2004IF JESUS DEBATED SENATOR KERRY AND PRESIDENT BUSH you can read the sermon at the link I provided.

Johnny said...

You're right. The sermon isn't by Wallis I'm just invoking him as he has done well in positioning himself as the leading Evangelical progressive and is pro-life.

What interested me most about your post wasn't the All Saints sermon. It was your reaction to it.

What interested me was your closing lines- "An example from the sermon where the pastor assumes Jesus would not say anything against the killing of unborn babies but rather would decry those who care about the unborn yet don't provide cradle to grave care for those who are born. In other words Jesus uses the same arguments as the Democrats."

I'm interested in engaging this notion that Jesus only cares about abortion and euthanasia- that the culture of life only means legislation regulating those two things.

Like the sermon itself, I'd argue that Jesus does care about the unborn before they're born, after they're born, as they grow, when we're adults and to the grave.

A culture of life politician should promote life in all its facets.

A pro-life Jesus cares about more than just your birth or death is the message of the sermon and the message I have as well.

Johnny said...

As far as All Saints, ministers and politicians should not use the pulpit for electioneering. Politicians should not be endorsed by churches.

This sermon was an issue sermon- that candidates were mentioned does not mean that a candidate was endorsed.

The line that should not be crossed isn't that churches shouldn't advocate concern xyz but that houses of worship should not endorse a particular candidate.

Fine line? I don't think All Saints crossed it.

Anyways the number one promoters of laws eliminating this fine line are Republicans.

HR 235 and
2. I also HR 2679.

Ron Corson said...

Johnny wrote:
"I'm interested in engaging this notion that Jesus only cares about abortion and euthanasia- that the culture of life only means legislation regulating those two things.

Like the sermon itself, I'd argue that Jesus does care about the unborn before they're born, after they're born, as they grow, when we're adults and to the grave."

Of course I said nothing of Jesus caring "only" for the issue of abortion. That is what bothered me about the political nature of the sermon. If Jesus were really in this debate he would not ignore the idea of abortion as the sermon presented avoided the issue.

In fact we have the 7 letters to the churches in Revelation to give us a good idea of how Jesus would address these things. He would point out where people are doing well and then point out the problems. But the reason this is political is the complete absence of anything against the idea of abortion. Why? because that is a platform of Republicans and not of Democrats. In fact in past political conventions there have even been avoidance of Democrats who were well known but were pro life. Then the author goes on to attack the right. Fictionally by the way as the right does not dismantle all social safety nets and even the greatest accomplishment of the Clinton era was welfare reform a Republican agenda.