Mixing God and Politics.

Is the title of an article over at Salon.com by Michelle Goldberg about how Congress is set to vote on a bill introduced by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C on September 11th of last year that would allow religious leaders to endorse candidates from the pulpit without fear of losing their church’s tax-exempt status.

On Sept. 11 last year, Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., introduced a bill that would allow churches, temples, mosques and other houses of worship to channel donations directly to political campaigns, and to use church resources to help elect or defeat specific candidates without losing their tax-exempt status.

Not surprisingly, given the timing, no one noticed. Even once the dust cleared from the terror attacks, the Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act, which would dramatically increase the role of religion in politics and undermine much campaign-finance reform, has been little covered in the mainstream media. Civil liberties watchdog groups “thought it was dead,” says Terri Schroeder, legislative analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

It’s not dead, in fact it’s never been more alive. It currently has 128 co-sponsors in the House, including six Democrats and looks very likely to pass at this point. Personally, I’m of the opinion that religious institutions should be allowed to endorse political candidates, however, if they do so they should be stripped of their tax-exempt status. Part of the reason they enjoy their tax exemptions is because they are not currently allowed to stick their noses into politics (though many still do anyway). If they want to be able to do that then their special status should be removed and they should be taxed like any other institution otherwise it defeats the purpose of campaign finance reform. I’ve set up a poll in the forums area on the topic for those interested in expressing their opinions on it.

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