Tax-exempt "Patriot Pastors"
Reality once again outdoes the most outlandish fiction. You'll look at this and think that it must be the background for the latest satirical farce on politics coming out of Hollywood.
But it seems to be reality! There's a Baptist minister in Pearland, Texas, who actually dedicated himself to creating, and succeeded in creating, a network of "Patriot Pastors" to lead evangelicals to the polls in 2004 to vote for Bush/Cheney and Republicans in general. Rick Scarborough is his name, and he is tireless in promoting his "conservative Christian" way of thinking. He is also, needless to say, well funded by wealthy supporters. If those supporters paid the expenses of anyone else to organize and promote Republican Party agenda and candidates, such contributions and expenses would be subject to income taxes and property taxes.
Scarborough is involved in training fundamentalists to get teaching credentials so as to take teaching positions in the public schools. He recruits "conservative Christian" candidates to run for the local school board and city council. His "patriot pastors" have begun a campaign to expel Democrats from their congregations in the South, unless the Democrat "sinners" will come forward and repent by registering as Republicans. They attack high school sex education courses as "of the Devil" -- as well as the "godless theory" of evolution.
It's called the "Culture War". The current battle being waged in this war is over the filibuster against extremist "conservative Christian" nominees for life-time appointments to circuit court judgeships. The fight over the judgeships was once a largely academic argument over the constitutionality of the filibuster. But now it provides a fiery new front in the culture war. And Scarborough is emblematic of the Christian right leaders who have been drawn to the fray.
"It is a key test of the Christian right's political clout since last year's election, when Bush won a second term and Republicans strengthened their hold on Congress -- thanks in part to a record turnout of so-called "values voters." Anytime Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) or other GOP leaders appear to be backing away from a showdown with the Democrats over the filibuster, Scarborough and his backers are there to give them a shove. This helps to explain the protracted nature of the dispute and the challenge to GOP leaders to work out a compromise."
Quote from "Filibuster Fray Lifts Profile of Minister" ("Scarborough Has Network and Allies") by Shailagh Murray, Washington Post, Sunday, May 8, 2005, Page A01.
OVERLOOKED BY WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE --
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group, known as "Americans United" or by the initials, "AU". Americans United is calling attention to the fact that churches enjoy special tax-free status, and a part of that status is that churches are not to become involved in election politics. Scarborough's "patriot pastors" are going beyond the limits of the traditional separation of church and state. They are claiming for their churches a right to engage in election politics that exceeds the limited rights that are allowed to every other organization, including labor unions and environmental protection or civil rights groups.
The Rev. Chan Chandler of East Waynesville Baptist Church in Haywood County told members that they must vote for President George W. Bush. Nine members who did not do so have since been told to leave the congregation. An additional 40 members have reportedly left in protest.
"This is an outrage," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "Houses of worship exist to bring people together for worship, not split them apart over partisan politics.
"I think there is an important lesson here for the whole country," Lynn continued. "Americans do not expect to be ordered to vote for certain candidates by their religious leaders."
Religious Right groups have been pressing evangelical churches to get deeply involved in partisan politics, Lynn said, and this kind of controversy is the natural outcome.
Lynn said matters will become even worse if a bill now pending in Congress becomes federal law.
H.R. 235, a measure introduced by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), would allow clergy to endorse candidates from the pulpit and still retain a tax exemption of their house of worship.
"Introducing partisan politics into our churches is a terrible idea," said AU's Lynn. "I hope this incident in North Carolina will cause our members of Congress to reject Rep. Jones' bill."
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.
http://www.au.org/site/ (May 6, 2005)
HR 235 is intended to make the U.S. into a theocracy. It has 165 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Supporters have funded a web site (www.hr235.org/) --
"HR 235 was introduced to liberate clergy from the muzzle imposed by the absolute ban on all speech that may be regarded as "political," and thereby enable them to speak out on all vital and moral and political questions of the day. It will free houses of worship from the fear and anxiety and uncertainty created by the threat that the IRS will impose financial penalties or revoke tax-exempt status altogether."
The bill, introduced by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), would allow clergy to endorse candidates from the pulpit and still retain a tax exemption for their house of worship. It would permit church leaders to express personal views on political matters or elections during regular religious services without violating campaign finance laws.
Example of the Republican Party agenda (Ohio) --
<<When the 2005-2006 cycle has been completed, our goal will be to have accomplished:
* 2,000+ Ohio Pastors participating in seven key city Pastor Briefings (March - September)
* Christian Minutemen mailing list enlarged to 300,000 and 100,000 e-mails.
* 2,000+ Ohio Ministers become Patriot Pastors and attend major gathering in fall of 2005
* 30,000+ Christians sharing in a OHIO for JESUS Rally in early 2006.
* 4 Million Voter Guides distributed in the fall of 2005 for first the May Primaries in 2006 and then for November 2006.
* Video production and distribution of Patriot Pastors Briefing for 7,497 Ohio Pastors. >>
These people are NOT Christians, they are the "pharisees" that Jesus warned us against.
Matthew 16:6 - Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Matthew 16:11 - How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Matthew 16:12 - Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Matthew 23:13 - But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Matthew 23:14 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Matthew 23:15 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Matthew 23:23 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Matthew 23:25 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
Matthew 23:27 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Matthew 23:29 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
Luke 11:39 - And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
Luke 12:1 - In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Luke 17:20 - And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.
John 12:42 - Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.
John 18:3 - Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
John 7:32 - The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.
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