PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE AMERICAN GAY AND LESBIAN ATHEISTS, INC. P O Box 66711 Houston,

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PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE ***************************************************************** AMERICAN GAY AND LESBIAN ATHEISTS, INC. P O Box 66711 Houston, TX 77266-6711 Dial-A-Gay-Atheist: 713-880-4242 AGLA CALLS UPON IRS TO MONITOR CHURCHES FOR POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT For Immediate Release Saturday, October 29, 1994 Contact: Don Sanders, National Director Houston, TX -- As the political season reaches "high gear," the national office of American Gay and Lesbian Atheist is busily watching the degree to which churches and religious organizations in the Houston area are involving themselves in partisan politics. American Gay Atheists, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational foundation which does not violate the tenets of the IRS codes which prohibit direct involvement in partisan politics by non-profit groups. American Gay and Lesbian Atheists has been instrumental in having the Dallas office of the Internal Revenue Service maintain an open file (File 4940 Dal) on Houston area churches and religious groups which involve themselves in the political process, such as endorsing candidates for public office. During the 1993 elections, AGLA documented numerous cases of direct political involvement by Houston churches, particularly in the races of Sheila Jackson Lee, who was backed heavily by numerous Black ministerial alliances. In some cases, the political involvement of churches was so blatant that some churches placed campaign signs on their properties. "Such political involvement by churches is harmful to basic freedoms and civil rights of many, particularly gays and lesbians," says Don Sanders, national director. "The strongest opposition to equality of rights for gays and lesbians comes from the churches and the Christian scriptures. Many ministers bastardize the non-profit status accorded them under the rules of the Internal Revenue Service by directly instructing their congregations for whom to vote and how to vote on key issues, such as abortion rights, women's rights, and rights for gays and lesbians." Sanders points out that efforts to stop churches from influencing politics have proven ineffective. "However," Sanders says, "if the politically-meddling churches suddenly were threatened with loss of their privileged tax status accorded them under the directives of the Internal Revenue Service, much direct partisan political involvement on the part of churches would cease." During this political season, AGLA is carefully monitoring the antics of the so-called Religious Right and the support of their candidates by churches. "If the churches will not abide by the law which prohibits them from endorsing candidates, instructing their congregants for whom to vote, or funding political campaigns, we hope that our efforts to encourage the IRS to look into these matters by giving them documentation on this obvious abuse and illegal activity will help prove to the churches, once and for all, they should get out of the political game, or lose their tax exemption," says Sanders. For further comments or questions, contact Don Sanders. American Gay and Lesbian Atheists promotes Thomas Jefferson's constitutional premise of separation between state and church, and works to protect and promote the civil and human rights of persons who are Atheists and gay. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************

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