Episcopal News Service Thursday, September 21, 2006
Pasadena Congregation to Challenge IRS Summons
By Pat McCaughan
[ENS] The Rev. J. Edwin Bacon, rector of All Saints Church, announced September 21 that he will not turn over parish records to Internal Revenue Service auditors, paving the way for a court hearing on allegations the church engaged in political campaigning.
"We are here not for ourselves alone but to defend the freedom of pulpits in faith communities throughout our land," said Bacon, who was flanked by a sea of Muslim, Jewish and Christian supporters, parishioners and Los Angeles-area clergy, among them the Rev. George Regas, whose anti-war sermon sparked the IRS' audit of the 3,500-member congregation.
"American pulpits in mosques, synagogues, temples and churches must not cower from the responsibility to speak truth to power, include any and every expression of American exceptionalism that through policy and practice values American life above other life," Bacon told the gathering. "All life is sacred to God. We are called by God's vision to turn the human race into the human family."
All Saints Senior Warden Bob Long's announcement that the congregation's 26-member vestry voted unanimously to challenge the IRS brought more than a hundred parishioners and others gathered at the Pasadena church to their feet in hearty approval and sustained applause.
"All Saints has nothing to hide from the IRS," Long said. "We came to this decision because we believe that these summonses intolerably infringe upon our Constitutional rights and the IRS regulations that embody those principles-namely, the First Amendment rights of this church to speak and worship freely-rights that are indispensable to this church and to faith communities throughout our great country."
He cautioned that the decision does not mean that All Saints will not provide the government with the information it legitimately deserves, but that "we have a moral responsibility to ensure the IRS's request for information is, in fact, legitimate."
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