Sunday, June 10, 2007


One of the primary duties of a religious leader is to educate his/her followers in the area of moral issues, based on the religion's basic beliefs and teachings. And that, on occasion, will include issues being debated in the public forum such as marriage/fidelity and a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. I don't have a problem with that.

But the rules clearly state that a church or it's leader cannot use it's not-for-profit tax status to support or oppose any candidate for public office.

Here in the Tampa Bay area, televangelist Bill Keller hosts a live call-in programme called "Live Prayer" at 1:00 AM five nights a week on the market's CW network affiliate. During one of his programmes recently, Keller referred to former Pennsylvania governor and current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as "part of a satanic Mormon cult", and warned his followers on his Web site that "If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan!"

Romney, who has been one of the most active of the ten current GOP candidates when it comes to campaigning in Florida, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The political remarks have drawn criticism, not to mention a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service by the group Americans United for Seperation of Church and State. Keller defends his remarks, saying he has the right to keep preaching, regardless of the subject, and expects to be cleared of any violation of his ministrial organization's tax exempt status.

I would not be so sure of that. The rules are pretty clear when it comes to mixing politics and religion when you have a tax exempt status.


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