- May 19, 2004
- Reaction score
- Plano, TX
- Political Leaning
- Libertarian - Right
This is not the only church under investigation. The NAACP is still being investigated as well.The IRS has notified a Liberty City church that it is under investigation for possibly engaging in political activity -- putting its tax-exempt status into question.
The probe is related to an appearance last October by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and several black leaders, including U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
The reason for the investigation, an IRS official wrote in a 10-page letter obtained by The Herald, is that ``a reasonable belief exists that Friendship Missionary Baptist Church has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status as a church.''
Rev. Gaston Smith took a break from the revelry and worship of Palm Sunday services to inform the congregation about the inquiry. He said visits by political candidates are nothing new, and that the 75-year-old church did not violate U.S. tax code, as suggested in the letter. He has hired former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis to defend the church in the inquiry.
''This is not about politics. It's about principles,'' Smith said. Silence fell over the congregation as he spoke.
The inquiry raises serious questions about whether the predominantly black church can keep its tax-exempt status. If it fails, members and contributors could not deduct tithes and other gifts, upon which churches heavily rely to operate.