Is the Mainstream Coalition a little more sinister than we've been led to believe?
Apparently they also had the media and Democrats gushing over them. And then there were charges of espionage?
In South Dakota, I've read the articles just like you all, and there's people involved with the Mainstream Coalition that I personally like, such as Ed Olson and Jan Nicolay. I might not agree with them setting up a political organization separate from the GOP, because I'm not sure how it makes Republicans stronger. But it's certainly a free country, and no one needs to ask my permission, as I didn't ask anyone else's to start my corner of the blogosphere.
But getting back to the topic at hand. There's this group of Mainstreamers. Some are friends and acquaintances. And they're doing their thing and getting their group on it's feet. But then I read about what this group does in another state. And it's not positive.
What I'm reading here is *troubling* to put it lightly when it's related to the possible future activities of South Dakota's Mainstream Coalition. From the 6/30/2004 edition of the Kansas City Star as related by Free Republic:
Starting next month, the person seated next to you in church might not be there for the prayer, the fellowship or even the word of God.
Instead, about 100 volunteers will be attending services in Johnson County to look for overt election-year politicking from the pulpit, which could violate federal law.
It is the latest volley in an ongoing struggle between conservative and moderate political forces in Kansas. The issue of gays and marriage provided the trigger.
Upset at the Kansas Legislature for defeating a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the Rev. Jerry Johnston, pastor of First Family Church in Overland Park, invited area clergy members to a meeting this month. About 100 came, he said. Churches, he said, must get more involved in politics. “God calls a minister to speak on moral issues,” Johnston said.
Concerned that religious leaders might stir up support for their favored legislative candidates, the Mainstream Coalition, a group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state, decided to respond.
Volunteers were recruited. Letters are being mailed to more than 400 houses of worship in Johnson County reminding them of Internal Revenue Service rules on electioneering and telling them that their services may be monitored.
Under IRS rules, tax-exempt groups like religious organizations must not participate in political campaigns for or against a candidate . Some political activities are permitted, such as voter education or registration conducted in a nonpartisan manner. Alleged violations could bring federal scrutiny and possible loss of tax-exempt status.
The Mainstream Coalition will ask its volunteers to report their observations after each visit to a house of worship. If a serious breach of rules is found, a complaint might be filed with the IRS, the group said.
They won't find any violations at Westside Family Church in Shawnee, said its pastor, the Rev. Dave Cox, one of the clergy who met with Johnston.
“We're well aware of our restrictions,” he said. “We're also well aware of our liberties.”
In the past, the church has done “a little bit” to encourage involvement in politics, Cox said. Next month, he said, the church will do more. “We're going to try to ratchet up,” he said.
Read it all here! This is even more timely, in that South Dakota will be voting on the very issue of the definition of marriage this next year as Constitutional Amendment C in the 2006 November General Election.
So far, in South Dakota the Mainstream Coalition has had their honeymoon period of Judy Olson gushing over them, and Republicans acting like disapproving in-laws. Now that the honeymoon is over, it might be a good opportunity to take a serious look at what this group is doing in other states and to question whether those same activities are going to happen here.
Otherwise, you might not be able to trust that the person sitting in the pew next to you isn't a spy.
Add this link and this link to your reading on the topic. This is also an interesting link asking "Who appointed them to be the thought police?"
And then there's the accusation of catholic bashing on the coalition's part.
Any SD Mainstreamers care to comment on all of this? Because somebody's going to inevitably ask "Is this what we can expect in South Dakota during the 2006 election?"