Falwell sets pastors' seminar on how to talk politics

Tax-exempt status questioned

By Noble Johns

RICHMOND, Virginia (BNW) –
Our country is being held hostage by a group of right wing freaks like that fool Pat Robertson of the 700 Club, those racists at Bob Jones University, Jerry Falwell and the rest of those religious nuts should be investigated about their political actions, and if they are found in violation of the law, their tax-exempt should be taken away.

The Un-Rev. Jerry Falwell, beset by civil liberties groups questioning his ministry's tax-exempt status for backing President Bush, has set up a seminar to train conservative pastors "not to be intimidated by left-wing thugs."

Falwell said the September seminar will advise clergy that they can speak their minds on moral issues and weigh in on politics, as long as they don't spend tax-exempt money doing it.

Churches that go too far in advocating for or against a political party or candidate jeopardize their Internal Revenue Service religious tax exemption.

In complaints filed with federal agencies by the Campaign Legal Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Falwell himself was accused of improperly engaging in politics by endorsing Bush's re-election in a newsletter published on his Web site, falwell.com.

Falwell said that he wants more evangelical ministers to stand up to liberals and civil libertarians who threaten such actions against them. If any right were in them, they would to be standing up for the Blacks they help discrimination against over the past fifty years.

"We're going to be careful not to break the law, but we are also going to be careful not to be intimidated by left-wing thugs, not to let them intimidate evangelical pastors into silence," Falwell said in a telephone interview from Decatur, Alabama, where he was preaching Wednesday evening.

Robert Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, said Falwell is "interpreting the law as he wishes it was, not as it is."

"Any pastor who would accept legal advice in this area from Jerry Falwell is playing with fire," Boston said, noting that Falwell's "Old Time Gospel Hour" television ministry in 1993 paid $50,000 in back taxes for political activity in 1986 and 1987 that was deemed improper.

The "Politics and the Pulpit" conference will be September 26-29 at Liberty University in Lynchburg. Falwell is the school's founder and president.

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