Bush Campaign Targets Churches For Election Outreach

Politicizing Houses Of Worship Is Shameless Abuse Of Sacred Space, May Violate Federal Law, Says AU's Lynn

A Bush-Cheney re-election scheme that targets churches to win votes is an abuse of religion and raises serious questions concerning federal tax law, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

According to an account in today's Washington Post, the Bush campaign has sent a detailed memo to religious volunteers, urging them to turn over church directories to the campaign, distribute issue guides to fellow church members and enlist pastors in voter registration drives.

"This is a shameless attempt to misuse and abuse churches for partisan political ends," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "People go to church to worship, not to be proselytized by politicians.

"Injecting partisan politics into our nation's sanctuaries is a desecration of sacred space," Lynn continued. "Politicizing churches is morally wrong and legally dubious. The Bush campaign should repent of this reckless scheme."

Lynn noted that the Internal Revenue Service issued an unprecedented warning to the nation's political parties June 10, reminding them that churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations may not be involved in partisan politics.

"Any coordination between the Bush campaign and church leaders would clearly be illegal," Lynn said. "Our chapters and members around the country will be watching closely to see how this plays out in the pews."

Americans United has reported over four dozen churches and other religious organizations to the IRS for electioneering activities since 1992 for violations of federal tax law.

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.

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.