The Progressive


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Joe Conn

Rob Boston

Sandhya Bathija

Americans United Asks IRS to Investigate NC Baptist Group That Hosted Obama Rally

Event Featuring Michelle Obama May Have Violated Federal Tax Law, Says Watchdog Group


The General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina may have
violated federal tax law by hosting Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic
presidential candidate Barack Obama, at an event that appeared to be
little more than a campaign rally, says Americans United for Separation
of Church and State.

During her Oct. 29 appearance before the group, Obama praised her
husband and told the crowd he is qualified to be president because of
his past struggles. "Don't we deserve a president with that kind of
experience?" she asked. "Barack Obama gets it because he's been there."

Obama also told the crowd, "I also come here as a wife who loves my
husband, and I believe my husband will be an extraordinary president."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said
the event was not the type of non-partisan activity that churches are
permitted to host.

"This was an Obama campaign rally taking place during the meeting of
a religious group," Lynn said. "Federal tax law simply does not allow
religious organizations to sponsor events like this."

In a letter to the IRS today, Lynn requested an investigation of the matter.

"This appearance took on the trappings of a campaign rally, and
during it Ms. Obama promoted her husband's candidacy and appealed for
votes," wrote Lynn in the letter.

Americans United maintains a special initiative, Project Fair Play,
designed to educate religious leaders about the requirements of federal
tax law. In cases of egregious violations of the law, AU asks the IRS
to intervene.

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.