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from Daily Mislead
June 16, 2004

President Bush said at a press conference yesterday, "I think it is very important for people who are serving to make sure there is a separation of church and state."[1] The comments, however, stand in stark contrast to new legislation that the White House is pushing that would give religious institutions taxpayer funding and allow religious charities to become directly involved in political campaigns.

Just this month the President renewed his call to use government money to subsidize religious organizations,[2] and he has ordered various government agencies to establish "faith based centers"[3] within their operations. On Capitol Hill, the President's conservative allies tried to pass a proposal that would have allowed clergy to endorse candidates for political office without endangering the tax-exempt status of their congregations.[4] Opponents "called it a 'back-door' attempt to help reelect President Bush, whose campaign is focusing on churches."

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that the Bush campaign "is trying to recruit supporters from 1,600 religious congregations in Pennsylvania - a political push that critics said Wednesday could cost churches their tax breaks"[5] unless Congress passes the new legislation. An e-mail from the Bush campaign's Pennsylvania office asked churchgoers to "serve as a coordinator in your place of worship.'' The message also said the campaign planned to "undertake activities" in places "accessible to the congregation." The Internal Revenue Service prohibits political campaign activity -- for or against any candidate -- from taking place at all organizations that receive tax-exempt status under a section of the federal tax code. This prohibition includes most churches and religious groups.

Sources: 1. Presidential Remarks, WhiteHouse.gov, 6/15/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=40608.
2. "Bush calls for funds for church projects", Houston Chronicle, 6/1/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=40609.
3. "Bush Setting Up Faith-Based Centers", Kxan.com, 6/1/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=40610.
4. "House Panel Drops 'Safe Harbor for Churches' Measure", Washington Post, 6/16/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=40611.
5. "Bush campaign recruiting church-goers in Pennsylvania", The Register Guard, 6/3/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=40612.

Posted: June 21, 2004


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