WASHINGTON, D.C., November 5, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A liberal pressure group has accused the U.S. Catholic bishops of breaking tax law by faithfully proclaiming the non-negotiable issues of Church teaching, including the right to life.
These teachings, the organization argues, disadvantage President Barack Obama.
On Friday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked for “an immediate Internal Revenue Service investigation into the activities of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops for using their position as leaders of the Catholic Church to persuade parishioners to vote against Barack Obama in Tuesday’s election.”
The USCCB “may be engaged in prohibited electioneering,” which would require the IRS to revoke its 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt status, according to CREW.
None of the bishops endorse a candidate. However, each reminded Catholics of the importance of preserving religious freedom against the HHS mandate, protecting innocent life, and defending the institution of marriage.
Often portrayed as a “non-partisan watchdog,” CREW’s complaints fall heavily upon conservative and Republican targets.
Executive Director Melanie Sloan served as Nominations Counsel for then-Senator Joe Biden’s Senate Judiciary Committee in 1993.
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The left-leaning group has regularly challenged the tax-exempt status of groups whose views it does not favor.
Its intent is to “harass and try to intimidate the Catholic Church,” Deal Hudson, president of Pennsylvania Catholics Network, told LifeSiteNews.com.
Frivolous complaints and lawsuits have “the double effect of getting good people to be timid and secondly to provide arguments for the pro-abortion Catholics to try to argue that to defend Church teaching is partisan,” Hudson said.
“There are good people who simply will hold back, because they simply can’t afford that kind of legal defense.” he said.“Bill Donohue’s Catholic League had to spend several hundred thousand dollars defending itself after 2008. Archbishop Chaput, when he was at Denver, had to spend nearly $50,000 defending himself after 2008.”
Although the Catholic bishops’ stuck to the issues, a few priests – and many Protestant clergy – have openly defied the 1954 tax ordinance and endorsed a political candidate from the pulpit.
Nearly 1,600 pastors took part in last month’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday, arranged by the Alliance Defending Freedom. The IRS has not yet investigated any participating church.
Hudson said that makes CREW’s complaint more transparent.
“If this were Great Britain and these groups had to pay when they lost, there wouldn’t be a single lawsuit, because they know they will lose,” Hudson concluded. “They know it’s bogus.”