Pasadena's All Saints Episcopal church has been let off the hook by the IRS. A year ago the federal agency came down on All Saints with both boots, threatening the church's tax exempt status because of a sermon from 2004.
Two days before the last presidential election the church's former Rector of 28-years delivered an anti-war sermon. In his sermon, George Regas depicted Jesus in a mock debate with then presidential candidates Bush and Kerry. According to the L.A. Times, the sermon didn't endorse or oppose either candidate. Instead, Regas is said to have "addressed the moral and religious implications of various social issues facing the nation at the time."
The IRS demanded, not just a copy of the sermon, it even ordered the church to produce its utility bills to establish costs of hosting Regas' sermon. They also summoned the Rector to furnish "a copy of all oral communications identifying candidates for public office delivered at All Saints Church or at events sponsored by All Saints Church between January 1, 2004 and November 2, 2004."
Now the tables have been turned. The IRS has shelved the matter but it's not over yet. After a battle that cost the All Saints congregation some $200,000, they've got a few questions of their own. According to the LA Times, " e-mails obtained by the church through Freedom of Information Act requests, appear to show that Justice Department officials were involved in the All Saints case before the IRS made any formal referral of it for possible prosecution, an attorney for the church said. The discussions raise concerns that the IRS' investigation was politically motivated, church officials said. One e-mail, for example, appears to show coordination between IRS and Justice Department officials about a request to the church for documents. Others discuss the timing of the request and news coverage about the case."
No, say it ain't so. The same Justice Department then headed by Alberto Gonzales pulling an underhanded, partisan stunt like this? How could anyone possibly believe he'd do something as despicable - hell we're talking Jesus here, make that "evil" - as that?
All Saints is demanding a full explanation, from the revenue service and the injustice department - and a full apology.