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Separation of Church and State in Ohio

On April 6th, fifty-three Ohio ministers filed a supplemental complaint with Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark W. Everson against the World Harvest Church of Canal Winchester, Ohio and the Fairfield Christian Church of Lancaster, Ohio. They allege the obvious, that “The churches have continued to organize and host political rallies featuring one, and only one, Ohio gubernatorial candidate — J. Kenneth Blackwell.”

Blackwell, as the chief elections officer in the state, has worked directly with Rev. Rod Parsley of World Harvest Church and Pastor Russell Johnson of the Fairfield Christian Church to destroy the separation of church and state. Parsley plans to do “Ohio for Jesus” radio spots for his Reformation Ohio project featuring Blackwell.

Rev. Parsley and Blackwell went on a bus tour together during the fall of 2004, to promote a state constitutional amendment against all forms of domestic partnership and gay marriage, which appeared on the ballot as Issue One. Blackwell, according to the tour’s information, would privately “minister” to voters prior to the rallies. He also ran the Issue One initiative out of his Secretary of State’s office. He was censured for that activity.

Blackwell doesn’t care whether he’s censured. He’s using the rabid rightwing evangelicals to ride into the Ohio gubernatorial mansion and is encouraging Pastor Johnson to whip up a reactionary frenzy among his so-called “Patriot Pastors.”

The tax exempt status of the churches is a privilege. There is no right to use taxpayer dollars in the form of tax exemptions, which are unpaid taxes, to promote one candidate and one candidate only. The pastors in the church have a right to free speech. They don’t have the right to exploit their church’s tax statuses for partisan political purposes. The fact that 53 mainstream pastors understand the importance of the separation of church and state is cause for great rejoicing.

3 replies
  1. 48thRonin
    48thRonin says:

    Blackwell thinks he can push the limit with the separation of church and state. I agree with Bob that we must rejoice that mainstream church leaders are coming to the defense of the Constitution and making sure that we keep churches out of politics (which, in too many cases throughout history, has led to the inappropriate incursion of politics into the chutches).

    Blackwell and Bush think they don’t have to play by the rules. They must be reminded that we are a nation of laws, and not men (and women).

  2. takebackthehouse
    takebackthehouse says:

    I didn’t see this info before. Has the World Harvest Church been censured or punished in any way?

  3. dael4
    dael4 says:

    While my wife was watching “PAX” (now GTN) TV she noticed a news person there endorsing a certain candidate. I got riled, and in my naivete’ immediately emailed Blackwell’s office stating that this should be looked into.
    Here is their response:

    Many churches and charaties enjoy a “tax-exempt” status which is a designation given by the federal Internal Revenu Service. “Non-profit” status is a state designation underwhich entities register their articles of incorporation with states declaring that the business intends to operate for a purpose that does not finanically profit the organizers of the business.

    It is the obligation of each holder of a federal IRS tax-exempt status to abide with the rules specific to that designation.

    The office of Ohio’s Secretary of State has no Constitutional or statutory authority to revoke a “non-profit” status based on allegations of encouraging churches to vote for any particular candidate.

    —–Original Message—–
    From me:

    I am requesting that the non-profit status of WFSJ be revoked in that they are encouraging churches to vote for Bush via their news show?

    Is it really illegal for them to request that churches encourage their constituents to vote for Bush since they are non-profit?

    end of mail>

    Then I emailed the FCC but they required “specific” information time date etc. of which I was not privey since I implicitly trust my wife’s judgment. And we could not recall the exact time and date. see below:

    You are receiving this email in response to your inquiry to the FCC.

    Please forward complete information on the broadcast issues in writing to:

    Federal Communications Commission
    Media Bureau
    Policy Division
    445 12th Street, SW
    Washington, DC 20554.

    You must put the broadcast frequency, time, and date of the broadcast, your full name and address.

    Gettysburg Consumer Center

    I also contacted Jim Petros office and got the response that it was the IRS responsibility.

    So keep your eyes glued and write down the time and date, oh, and the frequency!

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