Pastor Who Proposed Imprisoning Gays Overstepped Federal Tax Law With Election Interventionhttp://www.au.org/media/press-releases/irs-should-investigate-north-carolina-church-whose-pastor-urged-votes-against?utm_source=AU+main+email+list&utm_campaign=12a529d644-5_23_2012+PFP+North+Carolina&utm_medium=email
Americans United today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., whose pastor, Charles L. Worley, on May 13 delivered a sermon urging congregants to vote against President Barack Obama.
During an extended attack on Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, Worley suggested quarantining gays and lesbians and allowing them to die. These statements attracted much media attention, but AU says the IRS should not overlook the election intervention that accompanied the hateful remarks.
“Pastor Worley’s vicious and mean-spirited assault on gays and lesbians is bad enough,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “His pulpit command that people not vote for President Obama is a violation of federal tax law. I urge the IRS to act swiftly to investigate this matter.”
During the sermon, Worley referred to “our president getting up and saying that it was all right for two women to marry or two men to marry” and added, “I was disappointed bad.”
He then went on to observe, “Someone said, ‘Who ya gonna vote for?’ I ain’t gonna vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover. You said, ‘Did you mean to say that?’ You better believe I did.”
In a letter sent to the IRS today, Lynn told the federal tax agency that Worley’s action is a clear violation of federal law, which prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit groups from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates.
“When the top official of a religious organization – the chief pastor of the church – issues an appeal to congregants from the pulpit during a worship service in the strongest possible terms to vote against a candidate, it is clearly intervention in an election,” Lynn wrote.
Americans United’s Project Fair Play encourages religious organizations to learn about the provisions of federal tax law. When churches or other religious groups flagrantly violate the law, AU files complaints with the IRS.