A lot of people have harsh things to say about politicians. You have to have a pretty thick skin to run for office these days. You’ll get called every name in the book… including, apparently, Satan.
Liveprayer.com is making news these days because of a widely quoted public statement that a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for Satan. That’s right, Satan.
You can pop on over and read the whole post yourself if you’d link, it’s definitely interesting reading. Here’s a select quote:
If Romney gets elected as the next President of the United States, the Mormon cult will finally have the mainstream acceptance they have been striving for these past 200 years. Romney winning the White House will lead millions of people into the Mormon cult. Those who follow the false teachings of this cult, believe in the false jesus of the Mormon cult and reject faith in the one true Jesus of the Bible, will die and spend eternity in hell. *ROMNEY GETTING ELECTED PRESIDENT WILL ULTIMATELY LEAD MILLIONS OF SOULS TO THE ETERNAL FLAMES OF HELL!!!
And if you’re like most folks, your first reaction is probably, “Who cares?”
Well, the IRS cares. The IRS cares because this isn’t Joe Blogger posting about what he feels like. The site, liveprayer.com, is a public charity. That’s right, it’s part of Bill Keller Ministries, a 501(c)(3) organization, and as such, all donations to Liveprayer.Com are tax deductible. That means the organization is prohibited from distributing statements for or against candidates. Last year, the IRS posted a list of political activities and related prohibitions in anticipation of this very issue. And not coincidentally, the IRS released additional guidelines which were distributed to exempt organizations this week.
This case is attracting some serious publicity as the elections creep forward, mostly because of the potential for an early precedent in terms of what will be acceptable – and what won’t. The IRS is not excited about the kinds of publicity generated by its examination of Reverend Bacon’s speech during the 2004 Presidential elections and the spate of accusations on both sides of the political dais, conservative and liberal, about speeches and literature from churches and those controversial 527 organizations. After its investigations, the IRS found that 3 out of 4 targeted organizations had violated the rules against political campaigning.
So it’s not surprising that the IRS has immediately gone on the offensive in this case. And for those reasons, it couldn’t have been a surprise to the owner of liveprayer.com. My guess is that he was counting on it.
So, who is this guy anyway? Bill Keller is a former felon who served time in the federal pen for insider trading before, as he put it, “God got his attention.” Bill then went on to get his degree from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, apparently while still in prison. After prison, he started Bill Keller Ministries which received 501(c)(3) status in 1993; liveprayer.com was added to the corporation in 1999. Liveprayer.com claims to average 20,000 daily visitors and 2,400,000 email subscribers.
Clearly, Keller is loving the publicity that this has brought him. He’s even posted reactions to the post on his site including his audio exchange with radio personality Howard Stern. He is also scheduled to appear on Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss his position.
He feels, apparently, that it’s his God-given mission to stop the spread of Mormonism (and thus, in his mind, devil/pagan worship) through the use of this charitable organization. And from his posts, “blasting Microsoft and the UK blacklist company” from preventing the distribution of his email requests for money (though he’s quick to point out that it’s not about the money – in the same breath that he posts about the budget shortfall), he doesn’t feel that he’s done anything wrong.
Personally, I don’t care what your religious or political beliefs are. Just stay within the law when you’re espousing them. It looks like Mr. Keller somehow missed that part.
What do you think? Should the IRS revoke liveprayer.com’s charitable status? If not, where is the line?