October 3, 2002 - Issue: Vol. 148, No. 128 — Daily Edition107th Congress (2001 - 2002) - 2nd Session
HOUSES OF WORSHIP POLITICAL SPEECH PROTECTION ACT
(Extensions of Remarks - October 03, 2002)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E1744] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] HOUSES OF WORSHIP POLITICAL SPEECH PROTECTION ACT ______ speech of HON. JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY of illinois in the house of representatives Tuesday, October 1, 2001 Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 2357, the Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act, and I urge my colleagues to vote no on this measure. This bill, which would allow houses of worship to participate or intervene in political elections and still maintain tax-exempt status, is unnecessary, unwanted, could have far-reaching and unintended consequences on the tax code, and goes against our constitutional value of the separation of church and state. Current law does not hinder a religious leader's right to free speech; it simply limits groups from being both a tax-exempt ministry and a partisan political entity. Numerous faith-based organizations have spoken out against this bill because they feel it would lift important safeguards that protect the integrity of both religious institutions and the political process. Some of these organizations include the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, the National Council of Churches, the Congress of National Black Churches, the General Board of Church and Society--United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Many religious leaders feel this bill could create division among their members and would compromise their position as religious and moral leaders. In addition, this bill was not approved by the Ways and Means Committee, in part because there are concerns about its unintended consequences. Churches receive preferential tax treatment as 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations and receive very little oversight from the IRS. If this bill were to become law, not only could people's tax deductible contributions be used for political purposes, but there would be significant campaign finance implications. Religious entities would be able to undertake substantial amounts of partisan campaign activity, including contributing soft and hard money to federal and state races and national parties. This bill would effectively create a significant new loophole in our campaign finance and tax laws with serious ethical and legal implications. Finally, this bill stands in stark contrast to our time tested constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. Religious organizations hold a special place in our tax code because it is believed that their work is contributing to the common good of society, not a political party or a partisan campaign. This bill seeks to remove that special and appropriate place. I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on H.R. 2357. ____________________