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God-O-Meter

obama10.jpgAs if God-o-Meter needed more evidence that Democrats are embracing the faith organizing tactics of the GOP, it reads today that the IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ for possibly violating its rules against church politicking by featuring UCCer Barack Obama at its annual meeting last year. Read the IRS letter to the UCC here. What’s key from the AP:

Obama, a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, spoke about faith and public life at the denomination’s June 2007 General Synod in Hartford, Conn.
The IRS said in the letter that it was concerned about articles posted on the church’s Web site and on other sites stating that Obama had addressed nearly 10,000 people at the event. The agency also said Obama volunteers had staffed campaign tables “outside the center to promote his campaign.”
The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, a spokesman for the Cleveland-based denomination, said a group of Obama volunteers was outside the Hartford Civic Center, where the event took place, but that they were told they could not enter the meeting.
The UCC had invited Obama to speak a year before he announced he was running for president because of his involvement in the denomination, Guess said.
Church leaders consulted with lawyers before the event on following IRS rules. Before Obama spoke, a top church official told the crowd that the senator’s talk was not a campaign-related event and that no leaflets or other signs of political support would be allowed.
Nonprofits are barred from endorsing candidates or providing support for campaigns, although groups are allowed to invite candidates to address them and many do so. Guess said no other presidential candidates were invited because Obama was the only one active in the UCC.
The Rev. John H. Thomas, president of the denomination, called the inquiry “disturbing.”
“When the invitation to an elected public official to speak to the national meeting of his own church family is called into question, it has a chilling effect on every religious community,” Thomas said in a statement.


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