There's no question that as time moves on the tax exempt status church's enjoy will be used as a weapon against them. If churches don't fall into whatever government line is popular--hiring women or homosexual clergy, for example--they might lose their tax exempt status, which would likely force some churches out of the church business. An activist secular group has decided to test this Weapon of Mass Destruction (a line that works all the better since we're talking about Catholics) against Rome's church:
A secular group asked the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic diocese in Colorado Springs yesterday, saying the bishop violated federal tax law when he threatened to withhold Communion from those who disagree with the church.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in Washington, said Bishop Michael Sheridan went too far when he sent out a church letter saying Catholics should not receive Communion if they vote for politicians who disagree with the church by backing abortion rights and other topics.
“I think Bishop Sheridan has gone over the line, telling voters whom to vote for,” Lynn said.
Lynn said the U.S. Catholic Conference has warned church officials about using words that have political impact. Several U.S. Catholic bishops have instructed Catholic politicians and voters to pay heed to church teachings.
Secularists always get touchy when churches actually expect members to live the principles to which they claim to adhere. If you're going to be a Catholic, then be a Catholic. If you don't agree with Catholic teaching (like I don't), then be something else.*
Catholics represent a substantial voting block. There are benefits politically with identifying with the Catholic Church. But some politicians--John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, anyone?--who want to have their cake and eat it, too. I'm sure they're glad to have folks like Barry Lynn and his group of raving secularists giving them cover.
*To clarify, feel free to join the church of your choice. Just remember, it's God's choice that matters.