All Saints Episcopal Church (Pasadena, California)


All Saints Episcopal Church (Pasadena, California)

All Saints Episcopal Church is an Episcopal church in Pasadena, California. It is widely claimed to be one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches, and is the largest Episcopal parish west of the Mississippi. It belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. All Saints is known to support gays and lesbians, opposes the death penalty, opposes the Iraq war, and supports anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan.

The current rector is J. Edwin Bacon.

IRS investigation

On the Sunday before the 2004 Presidential Election, Rector emeritus George Regas made a sermon questioning the Iraq War. The premise of the sermon was a debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry moderated by Jesus Christ. In the sermon Regas supposed that, "Jesus [would say] , 'Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster.'" [http://www.allsaints-pas.org/archives/audio/ASC-GFR-Sermon-10-31-04-If%20Jesus%20Debated%20Senator%20Kerry%20and%20President%20Bush.mp3] The church has responded by claiming that the IRS is selectively enforcing the rule by not pursuing actions against conservative churches.

Complaints about the sermon led to an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) into whether the sermon voided the church's tax-exempt status as a prohibited political endorsement. In response to the investigation, Rector Ed Bacon gave a sermon called, "Neighbor Love is Never Neutral." [http://www.allsaints-pas.org/archives/audio/ASC-JEB-IRS-Sermon.mp3]

In September 2006, the IRS issued a summons against All Saints demanding that the Church turn over documents related to the controversial sermon. In response, All Saints said the IRS was violating the Church's First Amendment rights and that the Church would challenge the IRS's actions in a summons enforcement proceeding in the United States Federal District Court. The church then established a charitable fund to raise money for its legal defense.

The "Pasadena Star News", reported that All Saints would remain defiant against the IRS. Rector Ed Bacon asserted that political activism was "in the DNA" of the church.

Result of IRS investigation

On September 25, 2007, CCH reported in "Federal Tax Day":

::On September 10, 2007, the IRS notified the congregation that it was closing its investigation. The IRS determined that the sermon was political campaign intervention. It offered no explanation as to why the sermon violated the ban on political intervention. The IRS also did not indicate if it intended to impose excise taxes under Code Sec. 4955 [see usc|26|4955] on the church or its officers. However, it did not revoke the church's exempt status. [George L. Yaksick, Jr., "IRS Finds Prominent Church Engaged in Partisan Politics in '04 Presidential Election" "CCH Federal Tax Day", Sept. 25, 2007, #Item I.7.]

According to the "Pasadena Star News", the IRS told Church officials that the sermon constituted an endorsement of a candidate. Rector Ed Bacon demanded that the IRS apologize and that the IRS be investigated. [Janette Williams, "IRS ends church probe," Sept. 23, 2007, "Pasadena Star News", at [http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_6980814] .]

The Reverend Edward Bacon stated:

::While we are pleased that the IRS examination is finally over, the IRS has failed to explain its conclusion regarding the single sermon at issue. Synagogues, mosques and churches across American have no more guidance about the IRS rules now than when we started this process over two long years ago. [George L. Yaksick, Jr., "IRS Finds Prominent Church Engaged in Partisan Politics in '04 Presidential Election" "CCH Federal Tax Day", Sept. 25, 2007, #Item I.7.]

The Church's legal counsel has asked the IRS for a clarification of the decision, and for assurance that the IRS did not act under pressure from the White House. The Church has also requested that the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) examine the IRS's investigation. [Id.]

The Sabeel Controversy

In 2008, relations with the local Jewish community were strained when the Church hosted the pro-Palestinian Sabeel conference. [ [http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/middleeast/la-me-beliefs9feb09,1,1373104.story "Middle East tensions in Pasadena" (LA Times 2-9-08)] ] [ [http://www.forward.com/articles/12696/ Rebecca Spence, "Conflict Brews in Pews of Pasadena" Forward Feb 13, 2008] ] Rabbi emeritus of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, Rabbi Gil Kollin said: "As a neighbor, I was disappointed. A conference of this kind is going to make me feel uncomfortable and get a lot of our congregants upset." [ [http://www.forward.com/articles/12696/ Conflict Brews Over Palestinians Airing Views in the Pews of Pasadena - Forward.com" ] ] The local Jewish temple had previously supported church in its IRS dispute.

Notes

External links

* [http://www.allsaints-pas.org/ All Saints Episcopal Church]


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