Episcopal News Service Monday, September 18, 2006
IRS resumes examination of All Saints Church in Pasadena
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
[ENS] The rector and vestry of All Saints Church, Pasadena, along with their attorneys, will decide by the end of the week whether to challenge an Internal Revenue Service summons to appear before an officer of the IRS, which is examining the parish's tax-exempt status after a 2004 sermon preached at the church by its former rector.
The IRS summons requires All Saints to turn over certain records on September 29. The Rev. J. Edwin Bacon, All Saints' rector, is required to testify on October 11 about those records and the parish's relationship with its rector emeritus, the Rev. Dr. George Regas.
In early June 2005, the IRS notified All Saints that it was investigating the parish's tax-exempt status because of a sermon Regas preached on October 31, 2004, the Sunday before the 2004 Presidential election.
The IRS has alleged that the sermon may have been an "implicit" intervention in the 2004 presidential election because it contained references to the two candidates' positions on certain moral issues, and it reminded parishioners of the need to consider their values when voting.
It is against federal law for organizations with tax-exempt status to directly or indirectly participate in or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for political office. The law went into effect with the Revenue Act of 1954 and has been upheld as constitutional.
"I don't intend to tell you how to vote," Regas said early in his sermon.
Bacon received a three-minute standing ovation September 17 from those worshipping at the Los Angeles-area parish after his sermon during which he outlined the current status of the dispute with the IRS, according to Keith Holeman, All Saints' communications director.
Full story: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_77893_ENG_HTM.htm
Background about the All Saints case, including Bacon's and Regas' sermon is available at http://www.allsaints-pas.org/all_saints_church.htm
The full New York Times article is available at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/18/us/politics/18church.html
The IRS has posted information on its website at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=161131,00.html about so-called 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations.
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