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Mexicanos Sin Fronteras at All Saints

By RHarrison | 3 August 2007 | Zapatistas | 31 Comments

Greg reported below on a speech given by Manes Pierre, candidate for PWC School Board, at All Saints Church in Manassas. The text of the speech may have been disturbing, but not nearly as disturbing as the fact that the speech was allowed to take place at all.

To have non-profit status, religious organizations must refrain from involving themselves in elections. They can discuss issues and educate their members on candidates’ positions, but they cannot support one candidate over another. The IRS is very clear about this. In fact, the IRS published a guide for religious organizations specifically because they were cracking down on violations.

In this guide (page 7), the IRS states that a religious organization places their non-profit status in jeopardy if they, “participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

Religious organizations may allow candidates to speak on their property, but must do so in an entirely neutral way. If one candidate is invited to speak at a given event, all must be. If one candidate, or group, is allowed to hold a political event at a church, all must be allowed to have access to the church. The key is the church (or mosque, temple, etc.) cannot pick and chose whom it allows to use its facilities. Either nobody gets access, or everyone must be given access. (Page 10 of the IRS guide)

It doesn’t matter that the church wasn’t hosting the meeting, nor that the church had nothing to do with Mexicanos Sin Fronteras. The only important fact is that the church allowed a candidate for public office to make a political speech on church property. The violation is especially clear because Mr. Pierre mentioned that he was a candidate for the School Board. Once he does that, there can be no debate about the speech being political. Once you mention the election, you have crossed the line.

In the past, All Saints Church has been very strict about not allowing its facilities to be used for any political purposes. Mr. Pierre’s speech changes things. It would appear that All Saints no longer has the option of making itself off-limits to political groups and candidates, at least for this election cycle. Since one candidate was given access, all must be, or the church is in violation of IRS non-profit rules.

Moreover, if any candidates have been prevented from holding an event at the church recently, they could file a complaint with the IRS, which could result in the church (All Saints, not the whole Catholic Church) losing its non-profit status.

This is not an idle threat. As I mentioned, the IRS has been cracking down on churches that step over the line for the past couple of years and some churches have lost their non-profit status. When this happens, it usually means the church must shut down. All Saints is a big, healthy institution, but I doubt it could survive if it had to start paying taxes on Sunday collections, at least not without help from the diocese.

Father Cilinski (All Saint’s Pastor) has, in the past, been very careful about protecting his Church from this type of misuse, as he should be. I agree with his position that a church is not the right place for political activities. But it looks like he trusted the wrong folks. Whether he likes it or not, All Saints must now allow political activities on its property. I hope he is talking with a church lawyer to limit the damage.



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31 Comments

  1. Manassas City Resident said on 4 Aug 2007 at 12:11 am:
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    Has anyone sent this to Father Cilinski? This should be forwarded to him.

  2. Greg L said on 4 Aug 2007 at 12:37 am:
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    Great to see you weigh in, Russ! As usual, you blow the doors off a story!

  3. Legal2 said on 4 Aug 2007 at 4:25 am:
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    MC Resident. Consider it done.

  4. park'd said on 4 Aug 2007 at 8:40 am:
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    I know I wouldn’t want my church fraternizing with communists and lawbreakers. Father Cilinski has put himself and his church in a very precarious position now. I have a contact at the IRS who works as an auditor. I will ask her for her opinion on this matter.

    BTW Greg, can you please fix the misspellings of the word “speech” in the body of this thread? Thanks.

    [Ed note: thanks for the catch.]

  5. Manassas City Resident said on 4 Aug 2007 at 10:36 am:
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    legal2 -
    GREAT! I am curious as to what the reaction will be…..

  6. Mike Austin said on 4 Aug 2007 at 11:20 am:
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    Does this mean we have a new location to hold “Help Save Manassas” meetings?

  7. John Light said on 4 Aug 2007 at 11:35 am:
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    “As I mentioned, the IRS has been cracking down on churches that step over the line for the past couple of years and some churches have lost their non-profit status. When this happens, it usually means the church must shut down.”

    Nahhh, this is ONLY when it is a church hosting a Right-wing event.
    When has a church been investigated that has held an event by Al Sharpton or Jessie J???

  8. Mike Austin said on 4 Aug 2007 at 12:34 pm:
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    I notified the HSM board that Rev Mendez was telling the Spanish mass attendees, during the 7pm mass on June 3rd, to bring all their friends and family members to this country as soon as possible and All Saints Catholic Church would be setting up an office to assist them in various ways.

    HSM board members chose wisely to let this run it’s own course.

    Point is, All Saints has been working on this for a long time, and using the pulpit to spread the word. It was no surprise to many that this was allowed, and in fact invited to happen at All Saints. There is no doubt in my mind that this goes higher than this parrishes leadership.

    Link from the Arlington diocese website:
    http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/

  9. Legal2 said on 4 Aug 2007 at 1:56 pm:
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    Yes, it’s a link off of this which has more info as well: http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/offices/peacejustice/
    Is the next step giving them sanctuary ala Elvira? When did “the church” decide it was okay to break the laws of this country?

  10. Dolph said on 4 Aug 2007 at 2:43 pm:
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    Historically, churches have pretty much been able to do exactly what they want to do as far as political movements go. I sure don’t see that changing any time soon.

    The entire civil rights movement was born and bred in churches. Both black and tradtionally white churches were involved. In colonial America and in the west, the church was the town meeting hall. There are probably rural towns where this town meeting hall/center of worship still exists.

    More politics have come out of that church on Thomas Road in Lynchburg than out of the Capitol.

    I truly wish IRS rules would kick in, but I am not that much of an optimist.

    Dolph

  11. park'd said on 4 Aug 2007 at 3:11 pm:
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    Time to change churches then people. Let All Saints cater to the illegals if that is what they prefer. Since this area is already over 50% Hispanic, I’m sure they will be ok in the long run. I for one would refuse to be a parishioner of a church that aims to subvert the just laws of the land, even if their intentions are honorable. If these were a people that were being discriminated against and whose civil rights were being spit on then I could understand their position, but these people are criminals that stole across the border and steal Americans blind on a daily basis. I can’t for the life of me see how a church could want to reward this type of behavior, but if they do then they would do it without my help.

  12. RHarrison said on 4 Aug 2007 at 10:11 pm:
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    Dolph,

    There is a legal difference between supporting a policy and supporting a candidate. Churches and other non-profits are free to advocate for any laws they want. They can lobby Congress and other legislatures (with some restrictions) in support or opposition to any public policy they wish.

    What they can’t do is interfere in an election by promoting or opposing a candidate. The speech by Mr. Pierre crossed that line. In doing so, he compromised the church and triggered a bunch of regulations that would not have applied had the church merely supported the position of amnesty.

    This seems like a fine distinction, but under federal election law the difference between supporting a policy and supporting a person is a crucial distinction.

  13. Dolph said on 4 Aug 2007 at 11:46 pm:
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    RHarrison,

    Thanks for reminding me of that distinction. My comments blurred the difference and I agree with you, there most definitely is one.

    Dolph

  14. anon said on 5 Aug 2007 at 12:16 am:
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    UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE

    IMPORTANT INFO:

    Here’s MSF protest agenda currently for PWC:

    1. August 27 to September 3: Economic boycott - don’t buy anything or spend one cent in PWC - shop outside of PWC and in the stores of immigrants (gosh how can you tell who is an “immigrant” without racial profiling???)

    2. Work stoppage - Tuesday, October 9

    3. March - Sunday, September 2

  15. Anon said on 5 Aug 2007 at 2:02 pm:
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    I noticed this quotation from the Bible mentioned more than once on a Youtube video:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=_UbopWb-WZc

    in which supporters of the Minutemen yell at and finally drive away a couple of men from a Catholic group, Micah’s Way, who were giving food to day laborers. The Minutemen also accuse the Christians of being in it for the money. Micah’s Way helps a lot of different kinds of struggling and/or impoverished people. I realize most here will disagree, but to me offering sanctuary, food, and other assistance to the poor conforms with Christianity after the example of Jesus, a revolutionary if there ever was one, who also ministered to the most marginal of his society, including those who had broken the law and were about to be executed for it.

    The quote repeated on in the Youtube comments, however, is from the Old Testament:

    Deuteronomy 24:19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

  16. Legal2 said on 5 Aug 2007 at 3:12 pm:
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    Yes, it is more the work of the church to minister to those in need; but it is not for certain groups (MSF et al.) to determine (force) that all taxpayers will be missionaries (deplete our resources) inside or outside our borders.

  17. Anon said on 5 Aug 2007 at 3:36 pm:
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    Legal2, do you think that the behavior of the Minutemen supporters in the video was appropriate?

  18. Mike Austin said on 5 Aug 2007 at 11:41 pm:
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    When I viewed the clip I came away with two thoughts.

    1- People are getting pretty fed-up with the illegal aliens everywhere in the U.S.

    2- LEGAL majority rules.

    Sorry if you don’t like it but that is the foundation of the American system.
    Don’t like it? Go home!

    Anon:
    Do you believe it is right for these illegal aliens to come to our country and take from our children? They should stay in their home countries and work politically to make a difference there. The church should be helping them do exactly that instead of encouraging them to abandon their families and break laws by coming here.
    Even when aliens come here and get a free American education they want to insist they stay here illegally instead of returning home where they now have the tools to make a difference! Who is being selfish here?

    I’m sure there are plenty of bible verses that could be used to back both sides of this issue. Please don’t even try to suggest that the Americans who want to preserve and protect our country are condemned to Hell for what they do.

    May God bless you and watch over you while you are on your long and dangerous journey home.

  19. Dolph said on 6 Aug 2007 at 12:33 am:
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    Mike Austin,

    re: “The church should be helping them do exactly that instead of encouraging them to abandon their families and break laws by coming here.”

    Mike, I think you make a very good point about churches in general in the above statement. Churches could do a great deal more in third world countries to improve the general quality of life and to help overcome poverty and ignorance. Many churches sit on great amounts of wealth; wealth that could build schools, roads, bridges, hospitals, and train people to become self sufficient.

    In the 21st century, churches need to acquire a more realistic approach about over-population. In my opinion, all churches in 3rd world nations need to encourage birth control rather than proscribe it.

  20. Anon said on 6 Aug 2007 at 1:25 am:
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    Mike Austin, what makes you think I am not home? What about my post suggested that I am not a native-born American citizen? Furthermore, I don’t recall ever suggesting anyone was going to Hell. That is your language not mine. It isn’t anything I said or would ever say quite frankly. I thought it was an interesting video and an interesting response to it. I don’t claim to be an expert on Bible verses. It was a verse quoted in the youtube comments section for the clip. On my part, I only pointed out that Jesus did not turn his back on lawbreakers, which is accurate. Perhaps you should consider why your first reaction is to tell a fellow American you disagree with to go someplace else.

    I assume you have no criticism for the Minutemen behavior in the video?

  21. Anon said on 6 Aug 2007 at 1:59 am:
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    For anyone interested, the same person who posted the video under discussion has other clips on encounters over the illegal alien issue.

  22. The Patriot said on 6 Aug 2007 at 7:48 am:
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    http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/002236.html
    Could they resemble the group in the article above? Hmmm…..

  23. k. o'toole said on 6 Aug 2007 at 12:59 pm:
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    To see what is wrong with the catholic church and the immigration myths it perpetuates: http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/offices/peacejustice/documents/Immigration.pdf

  24. Anon said on 6 Aug 2007 at 1:53 pm:
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    Wow, go Catholics. K. O’Toole, you probably don’t want to read up on liberation theology…. :)

  25. Mike Austin said on 6 Aug 2007 at 6:15 pm:
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    Anon: No offence meant, but:

    You assume correctly, I have no criticism for the frustrated American people described to us as “Minutemen”. I do doubt they were infact Minutemen, but so what if they are? I did not see anyone physically attacked. I did not even see any laws broken.

    I don’t know what their affiliations are, nor do I care. They are frustrated Americans. I am proud to see Americans who are willing to stand up for their country, Americans who are willing to fight for their country!

    Those trespassing, law breaking, invader, illegal aliens are fortunate they were faced with law abiding civilized American citizens that held their line at vocal outbursts. And chances are these people were all good church going Americans who are fed up with what the government is not doing, as well as what their churches are doing to get these violators here.

    These illegal alien groups have expressed an interest in overthrowing our government and have shown in many ways that they have no regard, and in fact disdain for American citizens and all we have.

    You seem to defend that side thus encourageing me to assume you don’t like it here. I don’t care where you are from. I don’t care what you think.

    I would not mind if the aliens took whatever we left in the fields and took it home, but they naturally are not willing to stop there, they want it all…!

  26. Legal2 said on 6 Aug 2007 at 8:50 pm:
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    Anon, the catholic position paper on immigration cited above has all the buzzwords (broken system, undocumented, jobs Americans don’t want to do) of the typical pro-illegals who perpetuate misconceptions and do a disservice to legal residents as well as illegals who should be told truth, not fiction. Liberation theology was condemned by the Vatican, but the error has spread from Latin America into the AmChurch through the social justice (for some people) catholics who did not understand the dangerous consequences of the marxist ideology and/or who refuse to obey their superiors.

  27. Legal2 said on 6 Aug 2007 at 8:58 pm:
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    Anon, concerning the minutemen vs. Micah people: It is wonderful if people feel led to give of themselves to feed the hungry. If they are feeding illegal aliens, however, they should take their charity to the home countries (missionaries) and start there, not encourage lawbreaking. Remember render unto Ceasar?

  28. Anon said on 6 Aug 2007 at 9:50 pm:
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    Mike Austin, you wrote:

    “You seem to defend that side thus encourageing me to assume you don’t like it here. I don’t care where you are from. I don’t care what you think.”

    How exactly does it follow that if I disagree with you on charity toward illegal aliens or what was shown in that video clip that means that I “don’t like it here” ? Disagreeing with you doesn’t make me not like my country or any less of an American than you are. In fact, some would feel you were un-American to even suggest that. Can you defend the logic of what you are saying about how defending another point of view means I don’t “like it here”?

    As for not caring what I think, as you tell me, is certainly your prerogative.

  29. Mike Austin said on 6 Aug 2007 at 10:37 pm:
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    Anon:

    What’s your real name?

  30. Anon said on 7 Aug 2007 at 12:02 am:
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    Tell you what Mike Austin, when Advocator, the Patriot, freedom, Legal2, es-la-ley, Dolph, ManassasCityResident, TH, Redawn, Bornhere, Pickett’s Charge, Onan the Barbarian, Park’d, Batson, Fed Up, Had to Say, Mando, the Italian, Howie Feltersnatch, redwhiteblue, NoVa Scout, Another View, Proud Latina, my cousin Anonymous, etc. etc. etc. post their real names, then I will too.

    Deal?

    Until then, if you want me to get more specific, just call me Anonymouse.

  31. park'd said on 7 Aug 2007 at 11:52 am:
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    Anon’s real name is bornhere if I were to make an educated guess…

    Welcome back to the fold BH.

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