I've been talking about Priests for Life lately, and I see from the L.A. Times that the head of the organization, Father Frank Pavone, has a new gig:
New Order of Catholic Priests Is Forming to Fight Abortions
AMARILLO, Texas -- The Roman Catholic Church plans to establish its first religious society devoted exclusively to fighting euthanasia and abortion, church leaders said this week.
The male-only Missionaries of the Gospel of Life -- founded by the Rev. Frank Pavone, an outspoken opponent of abortion rights -- will be housed in a vacant Catholic high school and dormitory on the grounds of the Diocese of Amarillo.
The order will have a decidedly political bent, and will be active rather than contemplative, Pavone said.
Priests will be trained to conduct voter-registration drives, use the media to get out their anti-abortion message and lobby lawmakers to restrict abortion rights. They also will learn to lead demonstrations outside offices where abortions and family-planning services are provided....
So this is a nakedly political organization; just about the only thing these folks are going to do besides push for changes to the law is stand outside abortion clinics and try to shame or intimidate people.
Yet the Times can't quite figure out whether the new group should still be deemed a charity for tax purposes:
According to the Internal Revenue Service, churches risk losing their tax-exempt status if they endorse or oppose political candidates. But they can adopt political positions and, to a limited degree, lobby to influence legislation....
Got that? "To a limited degree." Here's what the IRS says:
To be tax-exempt as an organization described in IRC Section 501(c)(3) of the Code, an organization ... may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate at all in campaign activity for or against political candidates.
Priests for Life blithely states on its Web site that "all donations are tax-deductible." Yet elsewhere on the site there's this:
On this page you will find periodic updates on pieces of legislation which we are making a special effort to promote, as well as guidance on how to take action....
Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (S. 51, H.R. 4420)
Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 748) also know as the Child Custody Protection Act (S. 8)
Human Cloning Research Prohibition Act (H.R. 222)
Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act (H.R. 235)
The RU-486 Suspension and Review Act (Holly's Law) ( S. 511, H.R. 1079)
The Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act (S. 539, H.R. 1151)
Gee, that doesn't like an organization that "attempt[s] to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities," does it now?
Oh, and Frank Pavone gave invocations at both a rally for religious conservatives organized by the GOP before the 2004 convention and a subsequent "Christian Inaugural Eve Gala" that was also addressed by Karl Rove. And past online poll questions at the Priests for Life site include:
It is the view of many that the Democratic Party, because of its stated support for abortion as a fundamental human right and for gay and lesbian families, can no longer be morally supported by Christians. Do you agree with that view?
Should a priest, who has not received specific instructions one way or the other from his bishop on this matter, refuse to give Communion to pro-abortion Senator John Kerry?
Nope, nothing political going on here, right? And I'm sure the same will be true for this new organization.