Today we learn that Bush’s IRS is investigating a prominent liberal Episcopal church because of a sermon last fall in which the minister condemned Bush’s policy in Iraq. (No word on whether the agency is also going after the Baptist church that kicked out members who voted for John Kerry. Or the churches that helped out the Bush/Cheney campaign last year by sending in their membership directories. Or the Catholic priests who told parishioners it would be a sin to vote for Kerry.)
Don’t cry for the Episcopalians, though. They had an out. The IRS offered them a sweet deal: Admit that you violated the law, never do it again, and we’ll drop the investigation.
That kind of "deal" is usually called "intimidation."
If a Democratic administration went after a conservative church and threatened its tax-exempt status over statements made during a sermon, it’s safe to assume all hell would break loose. You wouldn’t be able to turn on a cable channel without hearing some host intoning, "Is there a Democratic war on faith?" Conservatives would fill the airwaves, newsprint, and blog pages with condemnations of "liberal bigots who hate religion." Can we expect a similar response from the left now?