Monday, November 05, 2007

Illegal Campaigning In Churches

I grew up attending a rural Methodist church with my family every Sunday. If a minister had ever attempted to preach politics from the pulpit or allowed a politician to campaign from the pulpit, he would have been run out of town. Yesterday, Mayor Peterson campaigned in six predominantly African-American churches according to the Star. "I just wanted to encourage people to vote," Peterson told the newspaper. "We're not talking about who to vote for, just the importance of voting." And if you believe that, I've got a bridge up in Brooklyn I'll sell you.

Republican Greg Ballard spoke at one church, the Grace Apostolic Church, which allowed representatives of both parties to speak, unlike the churches Peterson attended. A taxpayer-funded faith-based coordinator from Mayor Peterson's office spoke on his behalf. "After Ballard made his remarks, Marquisha Bridgeman, faith-based coordinator with the mayor's office, spoke on behalf of Peterson, urging the church-goers to vote," the Star reports.

Thanks to Mayor Peterson's $90 million, 65% increase in the local income tax, Bridgeman will have about $5 million of your hard-earned tax dollars to disburse for faith-based initiatives, which are supposed to help in fighting crime.

So churches are illegally using their tax-exempt status to help in the re-election of Mayor Bart Peterson. Mayor Bart Peterson is using your tax dollars to reward them for their efforts. Can someone from the IRS please investigate? And where's the ACLU of Indiana? This is a lawsuit worth filing.


Anonymous said...

The irony of this is that the Indianapolis black community sittting in those pews can't see thru a rich white guy like Peterson who is clearly pandering and playing them like fools.
It's a disgrace.
And you are absolutely right Gary, Peterson is buying support with a payout of $5 mil to these so-called black clergymen.
My that new Bentley with spinners will look nice in the Pastor's parking space at Eastern Star on Christmas Day!
Taxpayer $$ going to these churches to get out the vote for Peterson is just plain wrong!

Anonymous said...

So you say it's a lawsuit worth filing: what's stopping you?

Gary R. Welsh said...

The lawsuit would pertain to the government-funded faith-based coordinator who campaigns in churches for the Mayor's re-election. Again, as I've said before, I'm a one-man operation. I don't have anyone bankrolling me. I don't have the luxury of being able to file these kinds of lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

Surely such a righteous cause would lend itself itself to support by others. And if you prevail you can recover attorney's fees. The ACLU brings only a small fraction of the civil rights cases in this country. Many more are brought by solo and small firm attorneys.

If it's such a slam dunk, you'll find investors, right? Or you can always borrow from the bank.

Anonymous said...

If this can be proved, these churches can loose their tax exempt status! Already happened across the country.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised at all. This coming from a mayor who stacks CCC meetings with employees to clap for a 65% tax increase while taxpayers are made to stand outside in 90 degree heat. A man who bribed a sheriff with a 50K pay raise at taxpayer expense in order to help push through a failed police merger. A mayor who allows his fire chief to call citizens derogatory names while in uniform in a public setting and does nothing about it. Would you really expect anything different?

zcockrum said...

What's wrong with encouraging people to vote? The campaign is not saying "vote for us"; rather get out and vote.
Also consider the following quotes from the star:

"[Peterson] visits here pretty often, and not just when he's looking for our support at the polls," Coatie said. "We were glad to have him back today, and we're praying for him."

And for a moment of pot, kettle, black:

During his five-minute speech, Ballard said he was running from a "public service standpoint," touting his 23 years in the Marines and his love for Indianapolis, where he grew up.

"I would not run for mayor if I didn't think our city was heading in the wrong direction," Ballard said. "I don't think the community as a whole is growing. We need to help all the people, because, unfortunately, right now we're only helping a few of the people."

He cited his concern about high property taxes and a need to bring the city's neighborhoods together, comments that elicited "amen" from a few congregants.

After Ballard made his remarks, Marquisha Bridgeman, faith-based coordinator with the mayor's office, spoke on behalf of Peterson, urging the church-goers to vote.

So, it's not ok for Peterson to go out and encourage people to get out the vote, but it IS ok for Ballard to go out and ask people to specifically vote for him?

Wilson46201 said...

No vitriolic attack yet on Your Man Mitch for hosting a religious bagman from George Bush's White House and Coach Dungy?

Or is it OK if you're a Republican?

indyernie said...

Peterson attended a church on Post road Sunday...for fifteen minutes. Really fifteen minutes then out the door after the introduction.
The Ballard's attended the same church a couple weeks ago and stayed for the entire service.
I wonder, was Peterson trying to get closer to God or pandering for the vote?

zcockrum said...

Well clearly it must not be pandering if you stick around for the whole service.

Anonymous said...

Obviously you have not attended any of the fundamental protestant churches where Eric Miller is introduced from the pulpit and then hands out endorsement cards to everyone present.......this is a two edged sword. Times have changed in the churches.