Monday, September 24, 2007

The blurring of Church and State

By Libby

It's difficult to say whether Lousiana's favorite prostitution patron is making penance for his "sins" or simply paying off his political supporters but this is why we need to simply abolish earmarks.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote better science education."

Of course, their idea of better science is to deny evolution and teach creationism as a scientific theory. And while Vitter denies any political payoff here, it's useful to note that at least two of the principals at the Family Forum held paid positions in his campaigns and another spoke out in his defense after the good family man was caught with his pants down.

I'd note also that the only reason this is coming to light is the new requirement that earmarks be identified with their sponsors, so at least that's one thing the Congress got right in their weak attempts at ethics reform.

Meanwhile, I'm sure you remember this California church being charged with violating their non-prof status when a minister delivered an anti-war sermon. After leaving them hanging for years, the IRS now says, nevermind.

The Internal Revenue Service has told a prominent Pasadena church that it has ended its lengthy investigation into a 2004 antiwar sermon, church leaders said Sunday.

The IRS contends that the church did a bad thing but they're just not going to pursue it. Perhaps because the timing of the investigation might draw too much scrutiny if they brought it to court?
This IRS investigation was launched way back in June 2005, but suddenly ramped up just before the 2006 mid-term elections. Now, no action from the IRS, just an ominous warning without apparent foundation.

TPM has more history at the link but it's not difficult to discern their strategy here. One might suppose that the GOP would like their loyal clergy to be able to pimp for the party from their bully pulpits in 08. This case would certainly make that a little harder to get away with.

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