IRS Probes Appearance by Obama at UCC Convention

Article excerpt

The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ that it has opened an investigation into possible "political activities" connected with Senator Barack Obama's speech at the denomination's national convention last year.

UCC president John H. Thomas termed the investigation "disturbing," but said that church officials took great care to see that Obama's appearance at the UCC General Synod meeting last June in Hartford, Connecticut, "met appropriate legal and moral standards."

Engaging in partisan political acts can endanger a church body's tax-exempt status. Thomas expressed confidence that no violations occurred at the convention. The UCC announced February 26 that it has received the IRS letter.

Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which frequently alerts the IRS to violations by liberal and conservative churches, said it had looked into the situation and "saw no evidence of UCC officials seeking to appear to endorse [Obama's] candidacy. …

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