For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Joe Conn, Rob Boston or Simon Brown
 

Americans United Asks IRS To Investigate El Paso Church That Urged Parishioners to Vote Against Obama

Church-State Watchdog Group Says St. Raphael’s Church May Have Violated Federal Law With Election Intervention

WASHINGTON - Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate an El Paso Catholic church that called for the defeat of President Barack Obama.

St. Raphael Catholic Church ran a notice in a church bulletin dated Aug. 5 that reads, “I am asking all of you to go to the polls and be united in replacing our present president with a president that will respect the Catholic Church in this country. Please pass this on to all of your Catholic friends.”

Federal law prohibits non-profit organizations, including houses of worship, from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, and that includes placing such notices in official church publications. AU says St. Raphael’s has run afoul of that standard.

“St. Raphael’s is a church, not a political action committee,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It needs to follow the law or face the consequences.”

The church is not denying that the notice appeared in its publication. The matter was reported in the El Paso Times Sept. 7.

In its letter to the IRS, Americans United observed, “The language that appeared in the bulletin – an official publication of the church – clearly encourages parishioners to vote against incumbent presidential candidate Barack Obama.”

It goes on to say, “Since federal law prohibits tax-exempt, non-profit organizations (including houses of worship) from intervening in elections like this, I believe St. Raphael Church is in violation of the law.”

Americans United’s Project Fair Play encourages religious organizations to learn about the provisions of federal tax law. When churches or other religious groups flagrantly violate the law, AU files complaints with the IRS.

###

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

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.

Share This Article

More in: