If we were advising the Democrats, we would tell them to get Barack Obama out of the race before he leads his party to a catastrophe in November. In addition to widening revelations about racist and/or anti-Semitic hate speech not only from his pastor, his associates like Al Sharpton, and even bloggers at his official campaign Web site, there are very credible allegations that he misused the tax exempt resources of the United Church of Christ to promote his candidacy: a malicious and self-serving action that may put his own church’s tax-exempt status in jeopardy.
The story centers on Obama’s General Synod speech prompts IRS to investigate UCC’s tax-exempt status, which is posted at the UCC’s own Web site.
The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ’s national offices in Cleveland, Ohio, that the IRS has opened an investigation into U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s address at the UCC’s 2007 General Synod as the church engaging in “political activities.”
In the IRS letter dated Feb. 20, the IRS said it was initiating a church tax inquiry “because reasonable belief exists that the United Church of Christ has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status.”
The “political activities” in question involve Barack Obama’s “A Politics of Conscience,” which he delivered at the UCC’s 50th anniversary General Synod in Hartford, Conn., on June 23, 2007. The UCC says that Obama agreed beforehand that his speech would contain no campaign-related content, but a transcript of “A Politics of Conscience” shows extensive campaign-related content. Furthermore, the speech was apparently pre-written; in other words, Obama did not get carried away in the heat of the moment, forget himself, and talk about his Presidential ambitions. If the UCC’s statements are accurate, Obama chose in advance to break his word to his own church, violate its trust, and get it into trouble with the IRS.
The UCC posting says,
“The United Church of Christ took great care to ensure that Senator Obama’s appearance before the 50th anniversary General Synod met appropriate legal and moral standards,” Thomas told United Church News. “We are confident that the IRS investigation will confirm that no laws were violated.”
Before Obama spoke to the national gathering of 10,000 UCC members, Associate General Minister Edith A. Guffey, who serves as administrator of the biennial General Synod, admonished the crowd that Obama’s appearance was not to be a campaign-related event and that electioneering would not be tolerated. No political leaflets, signs or placards were allowed, and activity by the Obama campaign was barred from inside the Hartford Civic Center venue.
We assume that Obama heard this as well, but he chose to go ahead and electioneer anyway. Furthermore, ”IRS Investigation: A Test Of Church’s Faith?” by UCC minister Davida Foy Crabtree in the Hartford Courant asserts
Our purpose in inviting Sen. Obama in the spring of 2006 — long before he was a candidate for the presidency — was to ask him to address the connection between his Christian faith and his public service, to speak to us of the challenges for people of faith in the public square today. And he did so with eloquence. As a prominent member of our church, his was a natural invitation, just as the others were. To avoid any hint of endorsement or promotion, our national officers and our denominational attorney established clear understandings with Sen. Obama’s office in Washington. He readily agreed to all of them. We made it clear not only to his campaign staff but also to our own synod delegates and visitors that no advocacy or promotion of his candidacy would be permitted.
In other words,
(1) Barack Obama and his campaign staff were told of the rules ahead of time.
(2) Barack Obama understood and agreed to these rules.
(3) As shown by “A Politics of Conscience,” he chose to violate these rules after indicating his understanding and agreement, thus getting the UCC into trouble with the IRS.
A Politics of Conscience
Written by Senator Barack Obama
June 23, 2007
In other words, he wrote it ahead of time, with the full knowledge that electioneering on tax exempt church resources was forbidden, as opposed to forgetting himself in the heat of the moment.
…It’s been several months now since I announced I was running for president. In that time, I’ve had the chance to talk with Americans all across this country. And I’ve found that no matter where I am, or who I’m talking to, there’s a common theme that emerges. It’s that folks are hungry for change – they’re hungry for something new. They’re ready to turn the page on the old politics and the old policies – whether it’s the war in Iraq or the health care crisis we’re in, or a school system that’s leaving too many kids behind despite the slogans.
…Our conscience can’t rest so long as 37 million Americans are poor and forgotten by their leaders in Washington and by the media elites. We need to heed the biblical call to care for “the least of these” and lift the poor out of despair. That’s why I’ve been fighting to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and the minimum wage. If you’re working forty hours a week, you shouldn’t be living in poverty. But we also know that government initiatives are not enough. Each of us in our own lives needs to do what we can to help the poor. And until we do, our conscience cannot rest.
Our conscience cannot rest so long as nearly 45 million Americans don’t have health insurance and the millions more who do are going bankrupt trying to pay for it. I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premiums by up to $2500 a year. That’s not simply a matter of policy or ideology – it’s a moral commitment.
Compare this to Dr. Crabtree’s statement, “To avoid any hint of endorsement or promotion, our national officers and our denominational attorney established clear understandings with Sen. Obama’s office in Washington. He readily agreed to all of them. We made it clear not only to his campaign staff but also to our own synod delegates and visitors that no advocacy or promotion of his candidacy would be permitted.”
The Internal Revenue Service’s letter to the UCC alleges not only that Barack Obama delivered a speech with campaign-related content as described above, but also that his supporters–again contrary to the rules to which he and his campaign agreed–staffed campaign tables outside the event. The IRS writes, “In addition, 40 Obama volunteers staffed campaign tables outside the center to promote his campaign.”
We can reach only one conclusion, we think the public will agree with us, and we think this scandal is enough by itself to end Barack Obama’s campaign.
(1) The United Church of Christ invited Barack Obama, as a prominent public figure, “to reflect on the intersection of [his] faith and …respective vocations or fields of expertise.”
(2) In doing so, the UCC reminded Obama and his staff that, as a tax-exempt religious institution, it could not allow any election-related activity.
(3) Obama and his staff said they understood this condition and promised to observe it.
(4) Obama then wrote a speech that he knew violated the condition to which he had agreed, while his campaign allegedly staffed campaign tables around the church meeting, again in violation of the rules to which the Obama campaign had agreed.
We encourage our readers to circulate this story as widely as possible. It will do far more to end Obama’s campaign than the viral E-mails about which the Obama campaign has been complaining. This is because most of the above material is from the United Church of Christ’s own Web site, and the reader can verify them for himself or herself (as opposed to the unsubstantiated allegations that were in the viral E-mails). If the UCC takes them down, they are archived and quoted elsewhere on the Internet.