Thursday, February 28, 2008


Today's post is mostly a rant about religion and politics, wrapped in yarn and flowers, because without a little warmth and freshness it would be unrelieved meanness. Not to mention it's really cold and windy today.

Here's the yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in 601 Simply Taube, which I plan to use for Malabrigo March (on Ravelry).


Here's the rant: The IRS is investigating my church denomination, the United Church of Christ, because of a speech Sen. Barack Obama gave last summer at a national church gathering in Hartford, Synod in the City. The IRS claims the UCC event violated IRS rules on political activity – the threatened penalty is revocation of tax-exempt status, tantamount to a death sentence for a nonprofit organization. The UCC disputes the IRS accusations and notes their chilling effect on the freedom of speech and religion.

Melissa Rogers gives a detailed analysis; John K. Wilson, a pithy one. More personally, DH and I attended Synod in the City (see my pix) and can attest that the event, while spirited, was hardly a campaign rally for Sen. Obama – he was one of over 60 speakers. Synod organizers invited him to give one of the several keynote addresses long before he announced his candidacy for president because he's a member of Trinity UCC in Chicago. I saw a small table with Obama '08 literature outside the venue on the sidewalk; inside I did not observe any campaign signs, buttons, chanting, or other displays for any candidate. Which is not to say there wasn't plenty of advocacy regarding poverty, the war in Iraq, Katrina recovery, Fair Trade, environmental justice, health care, and marriage equality, to name just a few topics.

Unfortunately, plain facts do not constitute a sufficient defense. IRS investigations can be protracted and the rulings are sometimes self-contradictory. Other churches in similar straits have had to spend ruinous sums on legal costs, which not only diverts money (never mind time and effort) that might be spent on ministry, but also tends to make a church very loathe to speak out on any matter. The UCC has started a legal fund, which is prudent, but so sad.

None too soon, here's the flowers: Phalaenopsis orchids. As is usual this time of year, I'm dreaming of the Flower Show.

Phalaenopsis orchids

After all, il faut cultiver son jardin [one must cultivate one's garden].


Bezzie said...

Even though I'm not religious, and I'm not a big BO fan (the political or smell type), I can agree with the arbitrary nature of IRS and their operations. I honestly think though, they're wasting our tax paying dollars investigating a weak charge. In my simple mind, I like to believe that good people really do finish first.

P.S. Love the format of your blog post. This is how I write angry letters to companies with products I feel compelled to complain about. I start and end with something positive, put the rant in the middle!

Bezzie said...

Wow, I just read my comment--I don't agree with the arbitrary nature of the IRS! I meant to say, I agree with your POV that there doesn't seem to be a real rhyme or reason to their auditing of your church.

Alotta.knittin said...

I'm dreaming of the flower show too! My daughter and I are going on Tuesday for our annual 'girls do the flower show' thing. And lunch at Reading Terminal Market!! Who could ask for a better day. If you're going on Tuesday (what are the chances of that???) would love to meet you in person! And sorry about the IRS business...this is a family site or I would say what I think about the IRS.

Kim said...

Just reading your well justified rant made me furious! The IRS's intimidation tactics are disgusting and trample on the first amendment. What the hell is the IRS doing monitoring who speaks at church funtions and reviewingthe content of their speeches/sermons?!?! I seriously doubt whether right wing churches are subject to similar scrutiny by the US governement.

bookwoman said...

If everyone's rants were a simply stated and reasoner as this, the world would be a much better place.

Have fun at the flower show. I'm missing it this year because my mom (with whom I usually go) just left for a cruise to Mexico this morning. Bummer.

Will Pillage For Yarn said...

That makes me SO mad. Especially when you consider how the Republican party has utilized the Religious Right and you BET some of that has gone down in churches. Ring ring? Pot? Hi. This is the kettle.

Doesn't President Bush have like, the heads of several major churches as advisors? How is that keeping church non-political? They honestly expect us to believe those church heads don't go back to their congregations and communities and preach the gospel according to Dubya?

punkin said...

I just found your blog through Chappysmom. I agree with your point of view. It is well stated. I hope the insanity can be stopped before we lose more of our freedoms.