The IRS has stepped up its investigations of churches accused of endorsing political candidates. The agency is examining about 60 churches over complaints about endorsements from the 2004 election alone.
On Oct. 31, 2004, on the eve of the presidential election, guest preacher George Regas took to the pulpit at All Saint's Church in Pasadena, Ca., and issued a sermon describing a hypothetical conversation between Jesus, President George Bush and Sen. John Kerry. That sermon sparked an IRS investigation of the church.
It's illegal for a tax-exempt organization like a church to endorse or criticize candidates, but the boundaries aren't always clear. The new focus has raised serious questions for all nonprofit organizations: Can they even discuss politics at all in an election cycle?