IRS Should Investigate Florida Church For Opposing Mayoral Candidate, Says Americans United

For Immediate Release

IRS Should Investigate Florida Church For Opposing Mayoral Candidate, Says Americans United

WASHINGTON - Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the
Internal Revenue Service to investigate a church in Gainesville, Fla.,
that posted a sign opposing a mayoral candidate.

Dove World Outreach Center erected a sign on its property reading,
“No Homo Mayor.” The reference is to Craig Lowe, a mayoral candidate who
is gay.

Contacted about the matter by the Gainesville Sun, a top church
official admitted that the church had erected the sign.

“We don’t feel as though the city should be represented by a
homosexual,” said Terry Jones, senior pastor at Dove World Outreach
Center.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, called
the church’s actions a blatant example of illegal politicking by a
tax-exempt group.

“This is an open-and-shut case,” Lynn said. “The church freely admits
that it intended to intervene in the election in violation of federal
tax law. I urge the IRS to act promptly.”

Americans United sent a letter
to IRS officials today, asking them to investigate the matter.

Jones told the Sun he believes the church is acting within its
constitutional rights. But as Americans United pointed out in its letter
to the IRS, groups accepting tax exemptions must meet certain
conditions, including refraining from election interventions.

AU also noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit rejected the free speech defense in a 2000 ruling in
the case Branch Ministries v. Rosotti.

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Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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