A taxing situation: IRS investigates 'imprecatory prayer' Pastor Wiley Drake for church electioneering.When Americans United for Separation of Church and State Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Americans United or AU for short) is a religious freedom advocacy group in the United States which promotes the separation of church and state, a legal doctrine seen by the AU as being enshrined in the Establishment reported the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park to the Internal Revenue Service last August for electioneering, its flamboyant pastor was unrepentant.
"I have never been worried about the IRS An abbreviation for the Internal Revenue Service, a federal agency charged with the responsibility of administering and enforcing internal revenue laws. ," the Rev. Wiley S. Drake told the Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times
Morning daily newspaper. Established in 1881, it was purchased and incorporated in 1884 by Harrison Gray Otis (1837–1917) under The Times-Mirror Co. (the hyphen was later dropped from the name). . "They don't scare me. I don't give a rip about the IRS.
"I don't believe in the separation of church and state
Unfortunately for Drake, monitoring allegations of illegal partisan politicking by tax-exempt groups is part of the business of the IRS, and the preacher is now under scrutiny.
In February, WorldNetDaily reported that First Southern Baptist is under investigation by the federal tax agency. The right-wing online journal said the IRS, in a Feb. 5 letter, notified the pastor that a church tax inquiry is under way.
Reporters say the normally loquacious lo·qua·cious
Very talkative; garrulous.
[From Latin loqux, loqu Drake is now declining most news media interviews on the advice of his attorneys. Instead, the Alliance Defense Fund The Alliance Defense Fund ("ADF") is a conservative Christian non-profit organization with the stated goal of "defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation. , a prominent Religious Right legal group, is speaking out on his behalf.
ADF (1) (Application Development Facility) An IBM programmer-oriented mainframe application generator that runs under IMS.
(2) (Automatic Document Feeder) A paper stacker that feeds one sheet of paper at a time into the unit. lawyer Erik Stanley told WorldNetDaily that the IRS cited allegations that Drake had endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in an e-mail to followers on church letterhead and in comments on a church-based radio program.
Stanley traced the charges to Americans United.
"If anybody has been Big-Brotherish, it's Americans United," he told the journal. "They got the press release. They were the ones listening to his show, taping it and sending the tapes of his radio show to the IRS."
Stanley suggested that AU is attempting to intimidate pastors to keep them from speaking out freely on issues.
Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn Reverend Barry W. Lynn (born 1948 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) has been the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State since 1992. said the ADF attorney is off base.
"Stanley is wrong on both counts," said Lynn. "We support the right of clergy to speak out on issues, but they simply cannot endorse candidates using church resources. Furthermore, it's not 'Big-Brotherish' to ask pastors to obey the law."
Lynn added that he is delighted that the federal agency has responded to AU's complaint.
"'I commend the IRS for investigating Pastor Drake's flagrant abuse of church resources," said Lynn, who is an ordained or·dain
tr.v. or·dained, or·dain·ing, or·dains
a. To invest with ministerial or priestly authority; confer holy orders on.
b. To authorize as a rabbi.
2. minister in the United Church of Christ United Church of Christ, American Protestant denomination formed in 1957 by a merger of the General Council of Congregational Christian Churches (see Congregationalism) and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. . "This is a clear signal to clergy that the IRS is serious about enforcing federal tax law.
"When Religious Right operatives try to enlist churches in partisan political machines, they are putting those congregations' tax exemptions at risk," he continued. "Americans go to church to grow spiritually, not be lectured on which political candidate to vote for."
Drake is a prominent pastor ill the Southern Baptist Convention Noun 1. Southern Baptist Convention - an association of Southern Baptists
association - a formal organization of people or groups of people; "he joined the Modern Language Association"
Southern Baptist - a member of the Southern Baptist Convention , the nation's largest Protestant denomination. He recently completed a term as second vice president of the group, its third highest post. lie currently is running for president of the denomination, which became increasingly political after a fundamentalist takeover ill the 1980s.
Following Americans United's complaint to the IRS, Drake lashed out with a press release urging Iris supporters to pray for the destruction of Americans United and two of its staff members.
In his Aug. 14 missive, issued on church letterhead, Drake said, "In light of recent attacks from the enemies [sic] of God l ask the children of God to go rata action with Imprecatory im·pre·cate
tr.v. im·pre·cat·ed, im·pre·cat·ing, im·pre·cates
To invoke evil upon; curse.
[Latin imprec Prayer. Especially against Americans United for Seperation [sic] of Chinch and State.... Specifically target [AU staff members] Joe Conn or Jeremy Learing [sic]."
Implecatory prayers are curses that ask God to strike down foes. Drake provided some examples of implecatory prayers from the Bible for his followers to emulate.
"Let his days be few; and let another take his office," Drake wrote, quoting Psalm 109. "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, aim beg."
On Feb. 14, Drake reissued his call for death prayers against AU.
As part of its Project Fair Piny pin·y also pine·y
adj. pin·i·er, pin·i·est
Relating to, suggestive of, or abounding in pines. , Americans United educates clergy about the federal tax law ban on electioneering by tax-exempt groups. When flagrant abuses occur, AU files complaints with the IRS. The project, like Americans United, is completely non-partisan.
Candidates may speak in churches under certain circumstances, AU notes, but clergy must never give all official endorsement to them.
In an election season where religion and politics have intermingled rather promiscuously, Americans United staff members have found themselves busy.
Here are some other recent examples:
* In January, Americans United filed a complaint with the IRS about partisan politicking by the Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ The Church of God in Christ, Incorporated is the nation's largest Pentecostal and African-American Christian denomination.  History
The Church of God in Christ, commonly referred to by its acronym, COGIC ill Las Vegas, Nev. According to news accounts, the Rev. Leon Smith stood in the pulpit Jan. 13--just six clays before the Nevada caucuses--and said, "The more he [Obama] speaks, the more he wilts lily confidence, and ... if the polls were open today, I would cast my vote for this senator."
Smith added, "If you can't support your own, you're never going to get anywhere.... I want to see this man ill office."
In case the sermon left ally doubt about where the church stood, Obama himself addressed the congregation later that day in a "surprise" appearance.
* Americans United has cautioned the top official of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC (1) (SBC Communications Inc., San Antonio, TX, www.sbc.com) A large, national telecommunications company that grew from a multitude of local and regional companies, including Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell and Nevada Bell, into a single, unified brand by 2002. ) that using his denominational news agency to oppose Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani raises federal tax law issues.
In a Jan. 24 letter, AU's Lynn advised SBC President Frank Page that the Internal Revenue Code The Internal Revenue Code is the body of law that codifies all federal tax laws, including income, estate, gift, excise, alcohol, tobacco, and employment taxes. These laws constitute title 26 of the U.S. Code (26 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq. prohibits the use of tax-exempt resources to support or oppose candidates for public office.
* Americans United acted after learning of a Jan. 21 analysis distributed by Baptist Press, tire SBC's official news agency. The analysis stated in part, "Page said he agrees with James Dobson of Focus on the Family that a united front against Giuliani is needed and that 'evangelicals can realistically defeat him.' Even a ticket with Giuliani on top aim Huckabee for vice president 'would be problematic for Dr. Dobson and myself,' Page said."
* Americans United urged an Alabama political group that has endorsed U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for president to drop its plan to distribute Democratic Party sample ballots in churches.
In a Dec. 11 letter to Dr. Joe Reed, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, Lynn wrote, "Obviously there is no problem with handing the sample ballot to voters as they approach the polls. But passing them out ill houses of worship is a big potential problem for the churches"
The plan was outlined earlier in a Washington Post story. The story said that the ADC (1) See A/D converter.
(2) (Apple Display Connector) A peripheral connector from Apple that combines digital video display, USB and power in one cable. intends to distribute the sample ballots in churches the Sunday before Alabama's Democratic primary on Feb. 5.
After the advisory letter, AU received no reports of ADC misuse of churches for electioneering during the primary.
* Americans United issued a statement in January challenging grossly inaccurate information about church-based politicking in a full-page advertisement in The Wall Street Journal.
A Wisconsin church and a Religious Right legal group claimed in the Jan. 16 ad that the Internal Revenue Service is misinterpreting federal tax law to censor sermons about political figures and political issues. The Becket beck·et
A device, such as a looped rope, hook and eye, strap, or grommet, used to hold or fasten loose ropes, spars, or oars in position.
Noun 1. Fund placed the ad on behalf of Pastor Kenneth D. Taylor For other persons named Kenneth Taylor, see Kenneth Taylor (disambiguation).
Kenneth Douglas "Ken" Taylor, OC , BA , MBA , LL.D (born October 5, 1934 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada) was a Canadian ambassador to Iran. of Calvary Assembly of God Church in Algoma, Wisc.
In the ad, which takes the form of all open letter, Taylor mocks the IRS and dares the federal agency to investigate his church for a supposedly political sermon he delivered in 2006.
Americans United says the ad is based on inaccurate information and could lead unwary religious groups to violate federal tax law, encounter fines and lose their tax exemptions.
"The Becket Fund ought to be ashamed of itself," said AU's Lynn. "The lawyers at Becket may think this ad is a cute stunt, but it really isn't. This issue concerns the integrity of our houses of worship and fairness in the political process. This isn't something to trifle with to play the fool with; to treat without respect or seriousness; to mock; as, to trifle with one's feelings, or with sacred things.
See also: Trifle ."