Bush Campaign Enlisting Help Of Churches

As reported here:

The Bush campaign is seeking to enlist thousands of religious congregations around the country in distributing campaign information and registering voters, according to an e-mail message sent to many members of the clergy and others in Pennsylvania.

Liberal groups charged that the effort invited violations of the separation of church and state and jeopardized the tax-exempt status of churches that cooperated. Some socially conservative church leaders also said they would advise pastors against participating in such a partisan effort.

But Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush administration, said "people of faith have as much right to participate in the political process as any other community" and that the e-mail message was about "building the most sophisticated grass-roots presidential campaign in the country’s history."

As far as I can tell, this does not violate any constitutional notions of "separation of church and state" — the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign is not, technically, "the state".

However, any church that joins or endorses the Bush campaign will lose their tax-exempt status, as this IRS news release make very clear. One has to wonder if the Bush campaign people know that . . . or care.

What do you think?