The IRS has dropped its investigation of the all Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena over a 2004 anti-war sermon. So what did they determine? The anti-war sermon is illegal and the church loses its tax-exempt status? Nope. Maybe the anti-war sermon is completely legal and the church should never have been investigated? Nope. The IRS has concluded that the anti-war sermon was illegal but the church can keep its tax-exempt status.
The church has spent approximately $200,000 defending itself from the IRS investigation.
During an audit, taxpayers are usually given the opportunity to discuss and explain issues of concern, but in this case, the IRS has yet to explain exactly what violates the rules against intervening in a political campaign. The current rector says the church has “no more guidance about the IRS rules now than when we started this process.” The church has decided to ask for an explanation and an apology from the IRS, and an investigation by the Treasury department which oversees it.
The church has also obtained e-mails through a Freedom of Information Act request that call into question the role of the Justice Department in the case. The emails show the Justice Department communicated with the IRS before the IRS became interested in the case, that the Justice department coordinated IRS requests for documents and also discussed news coverage of the case.
“In view of the fact that recent congressional inquiries have revealed extensive politicization of [the Department of Justice], my client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” attorney Marcus S. Owens wrote in a letter Friday requesting an investigation.