Debate over the issue of religion in politics reached a fever pitch this week when the George W. Bush re-election campaign's effort to build a political machine in churches came to light. News media reports say the Bush plan to enlist 1,600 "friendly" houses of worship in Pennsylvania may endanger congregations' tax-exempt status. Americans United notes that IRS rules forbid churches from endorsing candidates or engaging in partisan politics. Read all about it in the press clips below:
Over two dozen major denominations and other religious groups signed a joint letter to Congress this week, urging the defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). Most coverage of this issue would lead people to believe the religious community strongly supports the amendment, but this letter presents a different picture.
A few Roman Catholic clerics around the country are working hard to influence Catholic voters in the 2004 elections. A recent poll, however, finds that Catholics in the pews are not welcoming those efforts.
Lt. General William Boykin is again making headlines, but this time not only for his offensive remarks. Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, sparked controversy and investigation last year when he said Muslims worship idols and cast the war on terrorism as a religious conflict. Boykin declared that the real enemy of America -- which he describes as a "Christian nation" -- isn't Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden.
Unitarian Universalists have participated in American religious life for over 200 years. The denomination has produced U.S. presidents and many prominent religious, social and literary figures. But now they no longer officially count as a religion for tax purposes in the state of Texas.
Roman Catholic Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs has issued a pastoral letter saying that American Catholics should not receive communion if they vote for candidates who defy church teaching on abortion, same-sex marriage and other social issues, according to The New York Times. This proclamation comes on the heels of moves by others in the Catholic hierarchy to deny communion to politicians who stray from church doctrine.
Southern Baptists will be asked to pull their children out of public schools if prominent leaders of the denomination have their way. Thomas C.
Almost 50 years ago, candidate John F. Kennedy assured a skeptical America that the Catholic Church would not influence his decisions as President. Kennedy believed "in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute." An increasingly aggressive Catholic hierarchy is undermining this historic principle by attempting to control the votes of Catholic politicians on important social issues.
When TV preacher Jerry Falwell announced that White House political strategist Karl Rove would deliver the commencement address at Liberty University May 8, Americans United quickly swung into action.
AU, noting that Liberty is a tax-exempt education institution, had some advice for Falwell and Rove in a press statement: Don't even think about turning the graduation ceremony into a Bush-for-president rally. (The IRS Code flatly bars churches and other tax-exempt entities from patisan electioneering.)