So How About the Churches Next?

By Mark Trodden | September 1, 2006 7:30 am

The Washington Post reports that the IRS has ended its two-year probe of the NAACP’s tax-exempt status. The probe was initiated at the request of multiple Republican senators. This isn’t a crime of course, but it is deeply troubling that the NAACP’s lawyers ultimately had to use the Freedom of Information Act to get access to this information about what our supposedly transparent government of the people were up to.

The rationale for the probe was comments made by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond:

Bond criticized Bush in a speech in July 2004, saying his administration preached racial neutrality and practiced racial division.

“They write a new constitution of Iraq and they ignore the Constitution at home,” Bond said.

I guess there is a reasonable discussion to be had about whether such public statements constitute a partisan position that is forbidden in the tax-exempt category, although it seems to me they are just the plain truth.

But if we’re going to investigate the NAACP for such relatively mild statements, how about the evangelical right wing churches next? In fact, since

The investigation started Oct. 8, 2004, a month before the election. As the investigation dragged on into the following February, the NAACP announced that it would not continue to cooperate.

Angela Ciccolo, an NAACP lawyer, noted that although Bond’s remarks were made in July 2004, the investigation did not begin until October, just when the NAACP was attempting to register voters.

maybe this new investigation can start in mid-2008. Of course, this timing would have to be purely coincidental, because

IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said the agency’s examinations are based on tax law, not partisanship.

And why wouldn’t we believe him?


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About Mark Trodden

Mark Trodden holds the Fay R. and Eugene L. Langberg Endowed Chair in Physics and is co-director of the Center for Particle Cosmology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a theoretical physicist working on particle physics and gravity— in particular on the roles they play in the evolution and structure of the universe. When asked for a short phrase to describe his research area, he says he is a particle cosmologist.


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