IOKIYAR for Churches

Remember last year, when the Republican Party used conservative churches to campaign for Bush?

The Bush-Cheney reelection campaign has sent a detailed plan of action to religious volunteers across the country asking them to turn over church directories to the campaign, distribute issue guides in their churches and persuade their pastors to hold voter registration drives. …

… The instruction sheet circulated by the Bush-Cheney campaign to religious volunteers lists 22 “duties” to be performed by specific dates. By July 31, for example, volunteers are to “send your Church Directory to your State Bush-Cheney ’04 Headquarters or give [it] to a BC04 Field Rep” and “Talk to your Pastor about holding a Citizenship Sunday and Voter Registration Drive.”

By Aug. 15, they are to “talk to your Church’s seniors or 20-30 something group about Bush/Cheney ’04” and “recruit 5 more people in your church to volunteer for the Bush Cheney campaign.”

By Sept. 17, they are to host at least two campaign-related potluck dinners with church members, and in October they are to “finish calling all Pro-Bush members of your church,” “finish distributing Voter Guides in your church” and place notices on church bulletin boards or in Sunday programs “about all Christian citizens needing to vote.” [Alan Cooperman, The Washington Post, July 1, 2003]

Here’s another one:

The Republican National Committee is employing the services of a Texas-based activist who believes the United States is a “Christian nation” and the separation of church and state is “a myth.”

David Barton, the founder of an organization called Wallbuilders, was hired by the RNC as a political consultant and has been traveling the country for a year–speaking at about 300 RNC-sponsored lunches for local evangelical pastors. During the lunches, he presents a slide show of American monuments, discusses his view of America’s Christian heritage — and tells pastors that they are allowed to endorse political candidates from the pulpit. [Deborah Caldwell, Beliefnet, 2004]

Well, folks, that was then, and this is now: Patricia Ward Biederman and Jason Felch of the Los Angeles Times write that the feds have a different standard for liberal churches.

The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California’s largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

Rector J. Edwin Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told many congregants during morning services Sunday that a guest sermon by the church’s former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, on Oct. 31, 2004, had prompted a letter from the IRS.

In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991’s Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that “good people of profound faith” could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, “Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster.”

Apparently the IRS has doctrinal issues with All Saints:

On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that “a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … ” The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.

The IRS offered All Saints a dispensation if it agreed to repent:

After the initial inquiry, the church provided the IRS with a copy of all literature given out before the election and copies of its policies, Bacon said.

But the IRS recently informed the church that it was not satisfied by those materials, and would proceed with a formal examination. Soon after that, church officials decided to inform the congregation about the dispute.

In an October letter to the IRS, Marcus Owens, the church’s tax attorney and a former head of the IRS tax-exempt section, said, “It seems ludicrous to suggest that a pastor cannot preach about the value of promoting peace simply because the nation happens to be at war during an election season.”

Owens said that an IRS audit team had recently offered the church a settlement during a face-to-face meeting.

“They said if there was a confession of wrongdoing, they would not proceed to the exam stage. They would be willing not to revoke tax-exempt status if the church admitted intervening in an election.”

The church declined the offer

What’s next? Thumb screws? Iron maidens?

Update: See Steve Clemons, “Religion, Wars, and the IRS: Pro-War Sermons Get Tax Privilege; Anti-War Sermons Not

Update update: See Dave Johnson, “IRS Cracking Down On War Opponents” and John Aravosis, “Bush administration threatens liberal church for being anti-war.”

C’est un Riot!

If you follow Memeorandum or other blog aggregator sites you’ve noticed that for the past several days the entire Right Blogosphere has been wallowing in the French riots. Truly, I have never before witnessed such undiluted Schadenfreude. Most people have at least a little twinge of guilt about rejoicing in the misfortune of others, but not our righties. They are rollicking in every fire, every shooting, every broken window. Righties haven’t had this much fun since the Dan Rather smackdown.

The French riots apparently feed into several of their collective detestations–of France, of Muslims, and of socialism. A trifecta! And they can’t let go of it. I thought that when they caught a sniff of Cindy Sheehan in Argentina they’d change course and go howling in that direction. But Sheehan in Argentina barely caused a ripple.

Of course, the truth is that the riots in France were not caused by a failure of “socialism.” Conservatives, not socialists, are in charge of France right now, and awhile back they adopted a hard-right immigration policy that any rightie would love. No multiculturalism allowed; if you live in France, you had better assimilate right now or get bounced. No affirmative action–employers can discriminate against Muslims without penalty. And French schools do not treat all religions equally, but give preferential treatment to Christians.

Today they’ve hit a new low; rightie bloggers are gleefully linking to an article written by an Israeli college professor titled “Got That ‘Ooo La La, Intifada’ Feeling?

Well, there are very few things as amusing these days as watching the French grapple with their backyard intifada. The suburbs of Paris are now more dangerous than Jenin, and the French are getting their comeuppance for decades of snootiness, for anti-American and anti-Israel agitprop, for decades of cowardice, and especially for the repulsive French love of old Jerry Lewis movies.

That’s sick. Je ne suis pas amusé.

Finally the Left weighs in–Jonathan Miller of Blogoland writes,

I’m struck by the unrestrained glee emanating from righty bloggers over the rioting in France this past week.

For instance, this is just one of many, but InstaPundit links to a blogger who bizarrely declares: “The current intifada in France has stripped the American Left of its second Utopia in a generation. The Left lost its earlier worldly utopia when the Soviet Union fell apart.”

Are they kidding?

As the NYT points out today
(and a passage that InstaPundit curiously omits in his linking to the same article) France’s policy towards immigrants is every hard-right, total-assimilationist’s wet dream:

    The government has been embarrassed by its inability to quell the disturbances, which have called into question its unique integration model, which discourages recognizing ethnic, religious or cultural differences in favor of French unity. There is no affirmative action, for example, and religious symbols, like the Muslim veil, are banned in schools.

What’s not to love? National unity, denial of heritage, no affirmative action, subjugating ethnicity to the larger state, a “French Identity.” Paging Patrick Buchanan!

Exactly. It isn’t “multiculturalism” that started the riots in France. It was “assimilationism.” Immigrants to France are required to sign a bleeping integration contract that stipulates instruction in the French language and French values. No multiculturalism allowed.

Over at the Peking Duck, we read:

Nothing is more depressing than seeing those on the right jump for joy over the Muslim youths rioting in Paris. They’re thrilled because it confirms how dysfunctional and bad France is, and confirms that Muslims are animals. (For a fine example, head over to this monstrous site — a real “hate site,” and one linked to enthusiastically by InstaPuppy and Michelle Malkin.) It’s depressing because their joy is ill-founded and based on two lies: 1.) that this is part of a worldwide Islamofascist “intifada,” and 2.) that the rioting is due to France’s liberal, multicultural, Muslim-loving tendencies.

Actually, France takes a rather right-wing, Charles Johnsonesque approach to Muslims, isolating them from mainstream society, ghettoizing them and enforcing a unicultural policy. …

…And returing to No. 1, this isn’t about Muslim terrorism. It’s about poor disaffected youth on the fringes of society, warehoused in project housing with no hope and no future. The rioting may be totally wrong and inexcusable, but at least see it for what it is. It is not a 911-like attack, but the result of many years of stigmatization and poverty. First try to understand it, then criticize it. Is that too much to ask?

Yes, it is too much to ask of righties. It would require them to think and learn stuff and all. Too much work. They’d rather fall back on their comfortable old fears, prejudices, and hatreds.

Echidne adds

The best short reading of these riots is that they are like the 1960’s race riots in the U.S., as Atrios suggested. The main cause for the riots is in unemployment, poverty and marginalization of the French immigrants and their descendants. The religious angle complicates things, naturally, and makes the chasms in the French society (as well as in the societies of quite a few other European countries) more dangerous to navigate. And as usual, the actual violence also has other elements, from accusations that the police are egging it on to hints that some of the arson is manufactured by drug overlords.

For these reasons I wouldn’t read the events as a clash of religions or civilizations as so many right-wing bloggers do. I think that they are plugging into their own fears and add to that a lot of ignorance about the French political system. For example, it’s the conservatives who are in power in France right now, not some socialists as I have read on the wingnut net.

In short, the French are making most of the same mistakes with immigrant populations that white Americans did with African American populations, and with many of the same results–ghettoization, poverty, and now violence. Same old, same old. France isn’t experiencing “l’intifada.” It’s experiencing “Les Watts.”

Update: Steve Gilliard writes,

Any African American who doesn’t find this familiar would be lying. The death of the two kids was a charge on long simmering feelings of anger at the police, which is mostly white and French. Sarkozy should put down the Giuliani bio and listen. Order has to be restored, but this will happen again unless real change takes place.

You shouldn’t have to lose your culture to be French. That was the same crap the French did in the colonies: be French, but get treated like niggers.

When people who play within the system still aren’t treated fairly, eventually someone will strike back at the system.