The Internal Revenue Service has warned churches that political involvement can cost them their tax exemptions. How much involvement is too much? Is the IRS playing politics, too? Why do we have a religious tax exemption? Plus, the House Government Reform Committee issues its report on the Abramoff-White House connection, and uncertainty over whether President Lula da Silva can beat another political scandal in Brazil.
FROM THIS EPISODE
The House Committee on Government Reform today released the latest report on former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe public officials. The report documents 485 contacts between Abramoff's firm and the Bush White House.
Philip Shenon, Investigative and Washington Correspondent for the New York Times
The IRS has challenged a liberal church in Pasadena, California because of an anti-war sermon preached by a former rector two days before the 2004 presidential election. All Saints is the largest Episcopal church west of the Mississippi and a solid supporter of liberal causes. Rabbis, Muslim leaders and Christian evangelists are backing the church in its refusal to cooperate. It's all about politics and the tax exemption for religious institutions. Church involvement in politics is growing fast--especially on the religious right. Is the IRS discriminating against the religious left? How do churches know when they've crossed the line? Why do we have a religious tax exemption in the first place?
Edwin Bacon, Director of All Saints Church
Eric Stanley, Chief Counsel for Liberty Counsel
Barry W. Lynn, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Edward McCaffery, Dean of the USC Law School
Brazil's President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has morphed from a fiery union leader to a moderate contrast with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. As President, he's managed to help the poor without soaking the rich or damaging the economy. It was widely predicted that he would win re-election on Sunday, but this new political scandal of Lula's term could force a run-off.
Mary O'Grady, Columnist for the Wall Street Journal