Skip to comments.IRS dismisses complaint vs. Jerry Falwell's personal endorsement of candidate in seminary speech
Posted on 07/19/2005 1:20:30 PM PDT by dukeman
Fort Worth, Texas - The IRS has dismissed a complaint against the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary arising out of a chapel speech delivered by Dr. Jerry Falwell on August 24, 2004, in which Dr. Falwell personally endorsed George W. Bush for President. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is represented by Liberty Counsel President and General Counsel, Mathew D. Staver.
On August 24, 2004, Dr. Jerry Falwell was an invited guest speaker at the Southwestern Baptist Theological chapel service. The Seminary conducts chapel on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The chapel consists of a religious meeting in which outside speakers are regularly invited to address the students and faculty. The messages are personal to the speaker. This was Dr. Falwell's first appearance at the Seminary. He spoke with reporters after his address, stating that his statements supporting George W. Bush for President were his personal views.
Despite the fact that Dr. Falwell's message was about spiritual maturity and that any views expressed were his own, his remarks were reported in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and based on that newspaper account, a complaint was filed with the IRS against the Southwestern Theological Seminary. Liberty Counsel represented the Seminary and filed a response to the IRS on December 17, 2004. The IRS has now dismissed the complaint and closed its file.
Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated: "Personal statements by an invited speaker expressing their views regarding political candidates do not violate the IRS Tax Code. I am pleased that the IRS dismissed the complaint against the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but it is disconcerting that the complaint was filed in the first place. The IRS should not be eavesdropping and pursuing complaints based upon one citizen forwarding a newspaper account. Although no church has ever lost its tax exempt status for engaging in political activity, most Americans will agree that the IRS regulation implemented in 1954 regarding political candidates should be repealed. Pastors and churches, as much as any other private citizen, have the right to express their opinions regarding political candidates."
"July 18, 2005
FEC Clears Rev. Jerry Falwell on Complaint
By BOB LEWIS
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint against the Rev. Jerry Falwell that said he broke federal election law by urging followers last summer to re-elect President Bush.
Falwell's lawyer, Mathew D. Staver, said in a news release Monday that the FEC notified him that it had ruled in the evangelist's favor by a vote of 6-0.
"Dr. Falwell does not lose his right to personal expression each election cycle," Staver said. "As a member of the media, the media outlets through which he communicates enjoy the protection of the First Amendment."
A similar complaint against Falwell lodged last summer with the Internal Revenue Service remains pending, said Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed the claim. An adverse IRS ruling could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of some of Falwell's holdings.
Falwell, founder of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and the defunct Moral Majority, told religious conservatives in his July 1, 2004, "Falwell Confidential" Internet newsletter that "voting for principle this year means voting for the re-election of George W. Bush. The alternative, in my mind, is simply unthinkable....."
Hrumfph. Under the Clinton administration it used to take 5-7 years for such investigations of conservative groups to be dismissed/resolved. And you thought Bill was only good at "sexual" harassment.....
Ironic, isn't it, how the "liberals" and "progressives" are so eager to try to stifle speech. Fortunately, people like Matt Staver are out there.
Isn't that big of the IRS?
"Pastors and churches, as much as any other private citizen, have the right to express their opinions regarding political candidates."
Yes and in that case Pastors and churches can pay taxes like any other private citizen.
It was in a NEWSLETTER....NOT from the Pulpit.....I, for one, am glad to see this.....as the LIBS have been PREACHING their POLITICS from the PULPIT for YEARS, and no one has done a thing!!!
Although no church has ever lost its tax exempt status for engaging in political activity,
Anyone know if this is true. That thought there was a church or two that did.
Pierce Creek Church in Binghamton, NY lost its tax exempt status for protesting abortions but I'm not sure if that was in the same category for what Falwell was accused of!
Sure, then that way you can guarantee that the government will be the only one with money to help the down and out. But hey, the welfare system has done so much for our country already, let's keep it going! sarcasm off
Do libs go to church?
LOL....THEIR politics are PREACHED at the Pulpit and are the CHURCH DOCTRINE....esp. many Southern Baptists.....from what I understand.
Wasn't Hanoi Johnnie Boy Kerry out stumping churches during his campaign? And wasn't he photographed by the AP? Now THAT is a violation....why isn't HE being investigated? Falwell's a pastor, not a politician and he's allowed to have personal opinions, but political candidates aren't supposed to be campaigning in churches.
Sorry, I disagree. It is one thing to stand at a pulpit and preach political causes, as many Democrat churches do, and entirely another for a Pastor, to state his personal feelings.
Agreed, of course a pastor has a right to his/her politcal views. Where I have a problem using the church (and it's resources) as a political mechanism. I do not have a problem with a Pastor using the pulpit to remind his flock on the the Christian view to moral issues that may interesect with the political realm (say abortion.) But putting a VOTE FOR __________ in the church newsletter or from the pulpit is crossing a line.
Democrats do it all the time and not one says a word. so I say too bad, if we do do it.
My understanding of the article is that he was a "guest" speaker at the school. He wasn't in his pulpit. I agree that a Pastor shouldn't name names in his sermans. There are plenty of other ways to get the message out using the Biblical truths as a guide.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.