Friday, December 09, 2005

Bradley Whitford's Church In Trouble With IRS

Bradley Whitford phoned into Air America yesterday to discuss the issue. You can listen to the program here. It's the second hour.

From the Christian Broadcasting Network:
"Longtime All Saints member and actor Bradley Whitford, who plays deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman on NBC's The West Wing, had some strong words for the IRS.

“It smells, it stinks of intimidation,” Lyman (sic) remarked, “as if there is some form of Christianity that's more acceptable. He (Regas) explicitly, repeatedly, I believe, in that sermon said, ‘I'm not telling you who to vote for’...., it wasn't at all some pinko endorsement, you know, of the left. It was exactly what I think Jesus was - you know, put your values into action…”"

This letter has now been posted at the Huffington Post, where readers have the opportunity to directly comment on the opinions expressed.

At the forum of Democratic Underground, a member posted a letter written by Bradley Whitford to the congregation of the Interfaith Communities United for Peace and Justice:

I have been a member of All Saints Church in Pasadena for over ten years.

The recent revelations of an IRS investigation into its non-profit status as the result of sermon given a week before the last presidential election by Rector Emeritus George Regas has outraged and galvanized our congregation.

The support we have received from across the spectrum of faith communities, including traditionally conservative evangelical leaders, has solidified our resolve - the United States government has no place in our houses of worship, and the selective targeting of churches who speak out on the issues of the day sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the religious freedom of every citizen.

The sermon in question explicitly refused to endorse a particular candidate. It did, however, hold George Bush and John Kerry up to the high standard of Christian values. Both were found wanting.

Values not put into action are meaningless, no matter how lofty they are. It is the obligation of our spiritual leaders to not just articulate those values, but to make them a reality.

We live in an age where describing oneself as a "œperson of faith" carries with it a tremendous political advantage. But too often in the public arena, being "religious" is defined only as a search for personal salvation and a willingness to adhere to dogma.

Declaring oneself a Christian is easy. Putting Christian values to work in a dangerous and violent world is not.

Perhaps the best response to the tragedy of 9/11 was a preemptive war against a country that had nothing to do with the attacks. Tens of thousands of deaths later perhaps it is still the right decision.

But it is not Christian.

Perhaps it is good economics to give me, an actor on a television show, over a quarter of a million dollars in tax relief over the last five years as the poverty rate climbs, as we burden our children with structural budget deficits and cut services for our most vulnerable citizens.

But it is not Christian.

Perhaps the Death Penalty is an acceptable way to punish criminals.

But it is not Christian.

Jesus Christ was the Prince of Peace, not the Prince of Pre-emptive War. He was an advocate for the poor, not of supply-side economics.
And let's not forget that Jesus himself died in a bogus death-penalty rap. His was the original "œbleeding heart", yet I am afraid he would be described pejoratively by many today as a "do-gooder".

President Bush proudly proclaims himself a Christian and tells us that his faith has changed his heart. Perhaps one day his faith will change his policies. Until then, I am proud to be a part of a congregation that seeks to hold all public officials to their easy, and too often empty, proclamations of faith.

Bradley Whitford
Pasadena, California"

The Los Angeles NBC evening news reported that the Pasadena All Saints Episcopal Church, which is frequented by Bradley Whitford, is under investigation by the IRS for a sermon given that was critical of George W. Bush. pumpkinpatch posted at Television Without Pity:
"Bradley Whitford said, "What this place fights to do is put values into action."

No comments: