Magazine article The Christian Century

Investigation Urged of Americans United

Magazine article The Christian Century

Investigation Urged of Americans United

Article excerpt

Three U.S. senators have sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno requesting a criminal investigation into whether Americans United for Separation of Church and State has intimidated religious voters through its efforts to counter the Christian Coalition. "If it is true that Americans United or any other organization has attempted to disenfranchise religious voters by intimidating people of faith into not participating in the political process--thereby silencing their voices on moral issues--then all Americans should be outraged," wrote Senators Jesse Helms (R., N.C.), Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) and Paul Cover&Il (R., Ga.) on July 2.

Americans United's Executive Director Barry Lynn held a news conference July 19 to protest the action, calling the senators' statement a "bald-faced lie." Lynn said, "This really looks like a transparent effort to intimidate us." According to Lynn, his Washington-based group informs churches and religious leaders in a nonthreatening and nonpartisan manner about "the legal and moral difficulties associated with mixing religion and partisan politics."

Lynn accused religious broadcaster and Christian Coalition President Pat Robertson, whose group's request to the government for tax-exempt status was denied, of being the catalyst for the action. The coalition claims its voter guides are nonpartisan, but Americans United has warned religious leaders that distributing those guides could prompt the tax-exempt status of a house of worship to be challenged or revoked. …

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