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." 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
this month the President renewed his call to use
government money to subsidize religious organizations,
and he has ordered various government agencies
to establish "faith based centers" 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. Opponents "called it
a 'back-door' attempt to help reelect President
Bush, whose campaign is focusing on churches."
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" 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
1. Presidential Remarks, WhiteHouse.gov, 6/15/2004,
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,
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