Seems that Florida televangelist Bill Keller on May 11 posted on his Web site a message telling his readers, in part:
"If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for satan! This message today is not about Mitt Romney. Romney is an unashamed and proud member of the Mormon cult founded by a murdering polygamist pedophile named Joseph Smith nearly 200 years ago. ...
I have watched in horror over the past weeks as one evangelical Christian leader after another has either endorsed, supported, or just as bad, refused to denounce Romney's run for the White House and those Christian leaders who support him."
Four days later, Keller's online site detailed what he called The Fallout from taking on Romney.
In his messages, Keller also has choice words for his fellow evangelist Pat Robertson's implicit condoning of Romney by having him speak at Robertson's Regents University (the phrase "out of his mind" was used), as well as lights into other faiths and denominations.
You gotta keep 'em separated: Now the Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State is asking the IRS to investigate and possibly revoke the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status of Bill Keller Ministries. The group contends that Keller and his outlets seem to have violated federal tax law by running articles opposing Romney's candidacy.
TaxProf has taken a look at the latest IRS ruling and says the Keller circumstances look a lot like Situation 6 in Rev. Rul. 2007-41, specifically, "If an organization posts something on its web site that favors or opposes a candidate for public office, the organization will be treated the same as if it distributed printed material, oral statements or broadcasts that favored or opposed a candidate."
The IRS has been looking at similar situations for quite a while. And as the 2008 election activities heat up, this likely won't be the last instance to raise questions.
The bottom line, though, it that while everyone is entitled to individual spiritual and political opinions, if you're counting on religious status to get out of paying taxes, you've got a choice to make. Zip it when you're in your official tax-free pulpit or pay up and promote your point of view by whatever method you please.