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Saturday, March 22, 2008

IRS Investigates Obama's Church

AAPP: This is getting deep, now the IRS is investigating The United Church of Christ over a speech Sen. Barack Obama gave at its national meeting last year after he became a candidate for president, the denomination said Tuesday.



Obama, an Illinois Democrat, belongs to the 1.2 million-member Protestant group through his Chicago congregation. In a letter the denomination received Monday, the IRS said "reasonable belief exists" that the circumstances surrounding the speech violated restrictions on political activity for tax-exempt organizations. The denomination has denied any wrongdoing.
Obama, a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, spoke about faith and public life at the denomination's June 2007 General Synod in Hartford, Conn. The IRS said in the letter that it was concerned about articles posted on the church's Web site and on other sites stating that Obama had addressed nearly 10,000 people at the event. The agency also said Obama volunteers had staffed campaign tables "outside the center to promote his campaign."
The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, a spokesman for the Cleveland-based denomination, said a group of Obama volunteers was outside the Hartford Civic Center, where the event took place, but that they were told they could not enter the meeting. The UCC had invited Obama to speak a year before he announced he was running for president because of his involvement in the denomination, Guess said.
More HERE



The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ's national offices in Cleveland, Ohio, that the IRS has opened an investigation into U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's address at the UCC's 2007 General Synod as the church engaging in "political activities." In the IRS letter dated Feb. 20, the IRS said it was initiating a church tax inquiry "because reasonable belief exists that the United Church of Christ has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status." The Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, called the investigation "disturbing" but said the investigation would reveal that the church did nothing improper or illegal. Obama, an active member of the United Church of Christ for more than 20 years, addressed the UCC's 50th anniversary General Synod in Hartford, Conn., on June 23, 2007, as one of 60 diverse speakers representing the arts, media, academia, science, technology, business and government. Each was asked to reflect on the intersection of their faith and their respective vocations or fields of expertise. The invitation to Obama was extended a year before he became a Democratic presidential candidate. "The United Church of Christ took great care to ensure that Senator Obama's appearance before the 50th anniversary General Synod met appropriate legal and moral standards," Thomas told United Church News. "We are confident that the IRS investigation will confirm that no laws were violated." More HERE

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