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The El Cajon Church Is Hosting a Pre-primary Election Forum Without Fear of Being Fined by the IRS

El Cajon’s Foothills Christian Church will host conservative pundit Craig Huey at an election forum for at least the seventh time in recent years, this time in the sanctuary.

The nondenominational church adds, “Bring your votes for a nice study and debate of how we might apply our Heavenly Citizenship to our Earthly one!”

Huey is the author of “The Christian Voter: 7 Non-Negotiables For Voting For, Not Against, Your Values” and “The Deep State: 15 Surprising Dangers You Should Know,” which he ran for Congress in 2011 and the state Assembly in 2012 before moving to Tennessee.

He could potentially be a specialist in nonprofit taxation.

According to Russ Park, a volunteer ministry leader who helped arrange the May 15 pre-primary event, Huey never breaks the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations like churches from engaging in certain political activities.

“Mind you, you’ll probably detect some scorn in his voice for a specific person because of their status,” Park said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “However, [Huey] never explicitly states: This is a nasty, evil person; don’t vote for them.”

Park, a 64-year-old Lakeside cybersecurity computer specialist, is aware of concerns about forums like his, hosted by the church’s Salt & Light Council.

“We have every right to bring in a qualified speaker who has researched the topics and candidates and can judge them on their merits,” Park adds.

According to Park, Huey simply ranks the candidates based on a “clearly expressed list of ideals.” “[Huey] doesn’t say, ‘Vote for him because he claims to be pro-life.’ Just so you’re aware of what (he represents).”

Raphael Tulino, a spokesperson for the IRS in San Diego, declined to comment on the Foothills Church event.

In reality, federal law precludes him from discussing any specific case unless a criminal charge has been unsealed, such as the one against Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway.

When asked how frequently (and why), churches lose their tax-exempt status — and hence their ability to offer tax benefits to donations — Tulino, a 20-year IRS spokesman, directed a reporter to IRS reports and Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.

According There are 1.4 million NGOs in the United States. to the IRS Data Book, for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2020, 1,417 churches and organizations were audited. Ook does not specify how many churches lost their exemption from paying taxes.

However, generic examples of political action in the IRS Tax Guide indicate that Foothills Church may be overstepping its bounds.

All Section 501(c)(3) organizations “shall not participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on the support of the  (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office,” according to the general rule.

An electoral forum like Foothills — which drew 250 people in pre-pandemic years — isn’t mentioned in the IRS examples. However, one person claims:

“During an election campaign, Church S… distributes a voter guide. Candidates’ replies to a questionnaire issued to candidates for key public positions are used to create the voter guide. Even though the survey covers a wide range of topics, the wording of the questions reveals a prejudice on particular themes. Church S is [illegally] participating or meddling in a political campaign by employing a questionnaire prepared in this manner.”

The IRS reminded churches and charities in November 2017 that federal law prohibits them from “getting directly or indirectly participating in political candidate campaigns.”

“Violation of the law may result in applying an excise tax or, in difficult situations, the loss of tax-exempt status,” the statement continued.

In the same year, NPR wondered aloud if any churches had been prosecuted for violating the Johnson Amendment.

“Not really,” it concludes. The Alliance Defending Freedom has hosted ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ since 2008, encouraging pastors to preach clearly political sermons in defiance of the law. On the other hand, the IRS has rarely attempted to revoke a church’s tax exemption.”

According to NPR, which cited The Washington Post, only one of 2,000 Christian clergies who has defiantly challenged the rule since 2008 has been audited, and none has been punished.

According to Foothills minister Park, one audit featured a Black clergy member who endorsed Barack Obama while he was present at the church. According to him, the church received a warning letter.

Former President Donald Trump talked about “getting rid of” the Johnson Amendment, but Park claims he didn’t. In May 2017, Trump signed an executive order limiting its enforcement.

The National Law Review stated, “It has been widely believed that the Johnson Amendment is not currently being enforced.” “Because of this, the executive order is unlikely to be of any practical use.”

One argument is that a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court majority would overturn the Johnson Amendment. Thus the. Thus Administration would not punish churches for overt politicking (named for Lyndon Johnson, who, as a U.S. senator, introduced a draft of the law in July 1954).

In 2016, 2018, and 2020, Speaker Huey made appearances at Foothills Church.  he’s spoken in 50 churches, including San Diego’s Rock Church and Chula Vista’s First Christian Church.) According to Park, the unpaid pastor, his talk on May 15 would be filmed by the church and broadcast on YouTube. According to Park, the outstanding pastor, his speech on May 15 would be filmed by the church and posted on YouTube.

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According to Park, the unpaid pastor, his talk on May 15 would be filmed by the church and broadcast on YouTube. Park claims that the church event will “go right up to the line and do it loudly.” And I have my pastors’ full backing in doing so.”

“Anyone with half a brain will see — well, duh, we all line up with this value, so you’re saying this is the correct guy,” he had previously stated.

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