All Saints rector to address IRS probe

first_imgIRS spokesman Jesse Weller said Friday that legally the agency “could not confirm or deny there is an investigation of any taxpayer” and had no comment. Church officials say they first got notice of the investigation on June 9, 2005. Then All Saints, a liberal Episcopal church, hit the national headlines when church leaders responded with an announcement from the altar Sept. 21, 2005, that they would not comply with IRS summonses demanding church documents. When Bacon announced he would not testify at an IRS hearing on Oct. 11, it was covered by national television and print media. Legal scholars and First Amendment experts weighed in, and the church enthusiastically took center stage in the expanding debate: When does free speech cross the line from sermonizing to politicking? When or should the IRS be involved in monitoring church and other charities’ political activities? People across the country became familiar with the 2004 anti-war guest sermon preached by former All Saints Rector George Regas – long posted on the church Web site – that triggered the initial request for church documents. In his sermon, Regas imagined what Jesus would say to then-presidential candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry about the war in Iraq. PASADENA – At his sermons Sunday, All Saints Rector Ed Bacon will address what the church calls “new developments” in a federal probe of whether a guest preacher’s anti-war sermon before the 2004 presidential election was politicking that jeopardized the church’s tax-exempt status. No one at All Saints Episcopal Church was sure how the 2004 sermon attracted the Internal Revenue Service’s notice, and more than six months ago the church filed a freedom of information request to find out. “We had a response (from the IRS) recently and that is part of what we will be revealing,” church spokesman Keith Holeman said Friday. “They had only recently, about a week ago, said they received the materials. So it was a long wait between the time of the request and the response.” Holeman said Bacon had made a “pastoral decision” not to comment on the new developments before letting the 3,500 members of his congregation know the status of the 16-month investigation. The IRS, according to Holeman, has alleged that this sermon crossed the line and constituted prohibited political campaign intervention. Bacon has called the Regas sermon a “statement of opposition to Bush rather than an outright endorsement” of Kerry and within the church’s First Amendment rights. [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4482 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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