A controversial bill to allow houses of worship to engage in partisan political activities is likely to face a vote in the House of Representatives in early September, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Walter B. Jones' "Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act" (H.R. 2357) was drafted by attorneys with TV preacher Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice and is being pushed aggressively by the Religious Right. The measure would change federal tax law to allow houses of worship to use personnel and resources to endorse or oppose candidates for public office.
Federal tax law currently forbids non-profit groups, including houses of worship, from intervening in partisan campaigns if they are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. The Jones bill would lift that regulation--but only for houses of worship.
Washington observers say a vote could occur on the House floor as early as Sept. 4. Moreover, the Christian Coalition, an ardent supporter of the measure, issued an alert to its membership in July noting that Jones "has been...