UCC Off the Hook — Because IRS Plays Catch and Release

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Good news, albeit an “it feels so good to stop banging your head against the wall” kind of good.

Today the United Church of Christ, the national church to which presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama belongs, announced that the Internal Revenue Service has found “that the activity about which we had concern did not constitute …a violation of the requirements of the requirements of section 501(c)(3).”

The “concern” that apparently launched the investigation stemmed from a speech Senator Obama gave to the UCC General Synod, the all-church gathering held every two years, during the church’s fiftieth anniversary celebration.

Despite the fact that the church had invited Obama to speak before he became a candidate for President, and despite the fact that UCC Nationwide Special Counsel Donald C. Clark, Esq., had carefully prepared the church leadership with the legal guidelines they needed to follow, the IRS launched an investigation. “We were confident that once the IRS was aware of all of the facts surrounding the Senator’s appearance, it would conclude that the UCC was in compliance with the governing Revenue Ruling,” Clark said.

“IRS regulations require that a senior official form a reasonable belief that a religious organization no longer qualifies for exemption from taxation before initiating such a church tax inquiry. In order for such a determination to be reasonable, Congress should require that the service communicate with the church before an inquiry, with its attendant costs and chilling effect on constitutionally protected associational rights, is launched. However, that currently is neither a Congressional mandate nor IRS practice, and was not done in this case,” Clark added.

In other words, the UCC bent over backwards to avoid violating IRS regulations so that its most prominent member could speak at a biennial churchwide assembly, and someone at the IRS formed “a reasonable belief” that the United Church of Christ no longer qualified for exemption from taxation?

Sure. Just like the DOJ formed reasonable beliefs that Don Siegelman was a felon, or that voter fraud by Democrats is running rampant throughout the land. That’s what “reasonable” means in Bushland. Further evidence of less than professional motives:

In addition, the IRS waited more than six months, until Senator Obama was emerging as a possible front-runner, to investigate.

Telling. We’re all as glad as the UCC is over the result, but why the hassle in the first place? Because. they. are. the. kind. of. denomination. Barack. Obama. would. belong. to.


The IRS had to know its case was garbage. It wasn’t actually going to try to punish the UCC, any more than Harrison Ford’s character in the movie Witness, John Book, was actually going to arrest anybody on the streets of Philadelphia. As Kelly McGillis’ character, Rachel Lapp, put it, John Book just liked to “go around whacking people.” In Bushland, that’s what the IRS is for.

Hassle ’em just so’s they know who’s boss.



2 responses to “UCC Off the Hook — Because IRS Plays Catch and Release

  1. Pingback: Would Someone Kindly Tell the Partisan Clergy to Shut Up? « EcuProphets

  2. Fraud in the Church is a serious issue, and not just as far as the IRS is concerned. Churches are frequently run with a trust-based mentality, and this tends to open the door to fraud. In order to avoid this, and maintain a favorable relationship with the IRS, churches should seek professional help from experts like the team behind Weeds in the Garden. They offer excellent services, including an online questionnaire to determine the security of your churches finances.

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