Watch-dog Group AU wants IRS Probe of Gainesville Fla Church
Watch-Dog group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State wants IRS probe of Gainesville Church for "No Homo Mayor" Sign
The watch-dog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the IRS to probe a Gainesville, Florida Christian church for its opposition to a gay mayoral candidate.
The Dove World Outreach Center had erected a sign which read simply,
" No Homo Mayor".
The sign was making reference to Craig Lowe, an openly gay Gainesville mayoral candidate.
A church spokesmen admitted to a reporter at the Gainesville Sun that his congregation is responsible for the sign:
Terry Jones, senior pastor at Dove World Outreach Center told the reporter that his congregation did not feel their city "should be represented by a homosexual".
Americans United have charged that this is "illegal politicking" by a "tax exempt group".
Calling it a "violation of federal tax law" the organization fired off a letter to the IRS asking that it act swiftly.
No First Amendment Rights Defense
Americans United pointed out in its charges to the IRS that the First Amendment Free Speech right defense was shot down in the District of Columbia in a 2000 ruling, which ruled that a tax exempt group must not attempt political suasion.
AU also noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the free speech defense in a 2000 ruling in the case Branch Ministries v. Rosotti.Jones told the Sun he believes the church is acting within its constitutional rights. But as Americans United pointed out in its letter to the IRS, groups accepting tax exemptions must meet certain conditions, including refraining from election interventions.
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.