Rep. Jones Plans New Push For Church Electioneering

A North Carolina congressman has announced plans to again try to alter federal tax law to allow church endorsement of candidates.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) told Cybercast News Service in January that the Internal Revenue Code’s ban on church electioneering infringes on the free speech rights of religious leaders and that he would urge Congress to pass a measure altering the tax code.

The push for re-writing tax law comes amid numerous campaign visits to houses of worship by 2008 presidential contenders in both parties. Democratic hopefuls Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Republican contender former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have made repeated church appearances in recent months.

Jones, who has unsuccessfully pushed similar church-politicking proposals in several consecutive congressional sessions, has introduced H.R. 2275, a bill that would repeal the tax code provision that bars non-profits from endorsing candidates. The bill is pending in the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Cybercast News Service also reported that the Becket Fund, a Religious Right legal outfit, is contemplating a lawsuit challenging the IRS ban.