Last week, I posted about how Legacy Church (in Albuquerque, New Mexico) gave parishioners sample ballots with highlighted names to take with them into voting booths this week — a clear violation of the law, since non-profits are not allowed to endorse political candidates:
It actually went beyond that, as you can see in the picture. The church handed out promotional cards for a few select candidates… just in case there was any doubt that they fully backed these politicians.
Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken action against the church, directly informing the IRS of their violations and urging the government to follow through on its promise to uphold the law and revoke the church’s non=profit status:
Pastor [Steve] Smothermon inappropriately used his position as Senior Pastor of Legacy Church to intervene in a political campaign. He violated IRS regulations by expressly advocating his support for multiple candidates from the pulpit of his church. He was speaking at an official church function, a regularly scheduled worship service. Pastor Smothermon’s partisan support is blatant: he used the pulpit to endorse candidates and used the church resources to endorse candidates. Given these partisan activities at an official church function, Legacy Church violated the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt rules, which prohibit electioneering.
This isn’t talking about an issue, like abortion or homosexuality, which is perfectly legal; this is exactly the sort of thing the IRS explicitly prohibits. For them not to take action would be a complete abdication of its responsibility. Even if church leaders want the IRS to come after them, just so they can challenge the law, it’d be irresponsible for the IRS not to conduct its own investigation and go after this church if necessary.