A group dedicated to enforcing its version of the separation of church and state has reported Peoria bishop Daniel Jenky to the IRS after the prelate delivered a fiery homily in which he compared Obama to Hitler and Stalin.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a formal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accusing him of violating federal law by intervening in a political campaign. Lynn claims Jenky’s address at a mens’ march on April 15 urged Catholics to vote against Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.
During the homily, Bishop Jenky said: “Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda – now seems intent on following a similar path.”
He added: “This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries – only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down.”
In the IRS complaint, Lynn wrote: “Bishop Jenky compared Obama to Hitler and Stalin and accused him of pursuing policies that will close Catholic institutions. Moments later, he exhorted members of his flock not to vote for candidates who fail to uphold Catholic values. It is impossible to interpret this as anything but a command to vote against Obama.”
Even though he admits that Jenky never uttered the words, “Do not vote for Obama,” he reminded the IRS that their code “makes it clear that statements need not be this explicit to run afoul of the law.”
Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria, defended Jenky and accused Lynn of taking the bishop’s words out of context.
“Based upon the current government’s threatened infringement upon the Church’s religious exercise of its ministry, Bishop Jenky offered historical context and comparisons as a means to prevent a repetition of historical attacks upon the Catholic Church and other religions.
“Bishop Jenky gave several examples of times in history in which religious groups were persecuted because of what they believed,” Gibson said. “We certainly have not reached the same level of persecution. However, history teaches us to be cautious once we start down the path of limiting religious liberty.”
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