In a story released today by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Oasis Church, a huge mega-church in Los Angeles, posted a statement on their website noting that a church official was seeking re-election. Alex Jones-Moreno, already on the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood City Council was seeking reelection, and the notice asked members to vote for the councilman, and further urged congregants to vote for Jones-Moreno via Twitter’s networking.
Unfortunately, in their enthusiasm, Oasis violated the law. See their website notice
The Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of AU, said “Federal law bars churches and other tax-exempt non-profits from electioneering. The IRS should crack down on these troubling tweets.
According to the AU website:
In advance of the election, the church Web site said, “Did you know the
Neighborhood City Council Elections are May 13th? Our very own Alex
Jones-Moreno, Director of Social Justice, is running for reelection? We
are asking everyone who attends, serves, gives or is a part of Oasis
Church to please cast your vote for Alex Jones-Moreno during the upcoming elections. Having Alex elected will help us better serve our community. Being a part of the Neighborhood City Council is extremely important as we continue to grow and look to secure a future venue for our church family.”
The message has since been removed from the church’s Web site, but a similar one was later posted that read, “Our very own Alex Jones-Moreno, Director of Social Justice, is running for reelection. We are asking everyone who attends, serves, gives or is a part of Oasis Church to please cast your vote for Alex Jones-Moreno during the upcoming elections.”
On Election Day, the church sent eight messages through Twitter urging members to vote for Jones-Moreno. After the election, the church sent a final “tweet” taking credit for Jones-Moreno’s victory.
From the Oasis Church Website:
Federal Tax law prohibits all tax-exempt groups from either endorsing or opposing any political candidates or other political questions that might be on a ballot. This law is designed for the protection of all citizens, so that each person can make up their own mind about how to
vote, and further and more importantly, so that no church or organization gleans the power to overcome differing groups – it is to preserve true freedom of religion for all.
Accordingly, AU has submitted a request to the IRS to investigate Oasis Church’s flagrant intervention into the election process.
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