Former President Bill Clinton (search) was in church last week. There’s nothing wrong with that -- more politicians should go to church, if for no other reason than to remind themselves they are not God.
But this church service was different. It featured, not a sermon, but blatant electioneering by Mr. Clinton and the embattled Governor of California, Gray Davis (search).
NAACP officials were there and the pastor of the African-American church relinquished his pulpit to a couple of politicians who are more concerned with earthly kingdoms than heavenly ones.
The question I have about all of this is -- will the IRS revoke the tax exemption of the church for engaging in partisan politics?
Over the years, numerous secular and religious organizations headed by whites have had their tax exempt status revoked when the IRS determined they existed less for educational or religious purposes and were merely covers for political activism.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had his exemption revoked when questions were raised about his ethics. He eventually got it back, but not without a fight.
Former Congressman Jack Kemp didn't get his organization's tax exemption back when the IRS judged his flat tax advocacy group was more political than educational.
The law is clear on these things: Tax exempt organizations absolutely must not participate or intervene in any political campaign, on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.
But that is precisely what Bill Clinton and Gray Davis did in that African-American Los Angeles church and the pastor let them do it.
I once saw Jesse Jackson during one of his presidential runs take up an offering for his own campaign in a church. Neither the church's, nor Jackson's tax exemptions were revoked.
There's a double standard here, but there's something else. What business does a minister have turning his pulpit and service over to a bunch of politicians who care more about this world than the next?
Shame on those ministers, but shame on the IRS for not upholding the law equally.
And that's Column One for this week.
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