The Internal Revenue Service has been asked to investigate the Florida ministry of Bill Keller, host of the Live Prayer TV program as well as LivePrayer.com for his comments about Mormonism.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State said it has written to request the review of Keller’s comments that a “vote for Mitt Romney [is a vote] for Satan.”
“Americans United asserts that Bill Keller Ministries seems to have violated federal tax law when its online division, Liveprayer.com, ran articles warning readers that a vote for Romney is a vote for Satan,” the activist organization announced.
Barry Lynn, the executive director of the group, urged an investigation into what the group called a “blatant example of religiously based partisan politicking.”
“The 2008 presidential election is 18 months away, and already we’re seeing reckless attempts by some religious leaders to abuse their non-profit status by engaging in partisan politicking,” he said.
In a telephone interview with the Washington Post, Keller laughed off the claims. “Let them come after me for making a spiritual statement about Mitt Romney. I would love that,” he said.
As WND reported at the time, while some evangelical Christians were defending the presidential candidacy of Mormon Mitt Romney from an attack by Al Sharpton, Keller took a step in the other direction.
“If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan!” he wrote in a daily devotional sent to 2.4 million e-mail subscribers on May 11.
Sharpton, the Democratic Party activist and former presidential candidate, has been widely condemned for singling out Romney’s faith as an issue in the campaign.
“As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don’t worry about that; that’s a temporary situation,” he said.
Keller also came out swinging against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as a cult.
“This message today is not about Mitt Romney,” he wrote. “Romney is an unashamed and proud member of the Mormon cult founded by a murdering polygamist pedophile named Joseph Smith nearly 200 years ago. The teachings of the Mormon cult are doctrinally and theologically in complete opposition to the Absolute Truth of God’s Word. There is no common ground. If Mormonism is true, then the Christian faith is a complete lie. There has never been any question from the moment Smith’s cult began that it was a work of Satan and those who follow their false teachings will die and spend eternity in hell.”
“I guess what I can tell you is it shows that bigotry can still rear its ugly head in society,” Alex Burgos, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, told WND. “It’s sad that anyone would target a fellow American on the issue of faith.”
“We really have no comment,” Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the Mormon church, told WND.
Several days later, Keller followed up.
“As you know I am a huge advocate of Christians taking their stand in all areas of the marketplace, including politics,” he wrote. “Most likely our only real option will be choosing a third party candidate who will take a stand to uphold Biblical values.”
But the focus of his criticism was Mormonism.
“I have been warning you for years now about this cult born out of the pits of hell and responsible for sending millions of souls to eternal damnation,” Keller said. “For the nearly 200 years this cult has been in existence they have strived for mainstream acceptance. They are the most devious of all the cults since they have always tried to portray themselves as ‘just another Christian group’ when in fact, they are no more Christian than a Muslim is! Their deception starts with their name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Sounds like a Christian church doesn’t it? Some Mormons have recently changed their name to simply Community of Christ to disguise even better who they are in an attempt to lure people in.”
Keller said that when LDS members talk of God and Jesus they are not talking about the God and Jesus of Christianity. He claims Romney’s high-profile candidacy for the presidency is an important effort by the church to gain credibility and respectability.
“There are reportedly 12 million Mormons worldwide, half of those in the United States,” he said. “The worldwide holdings of the Mormon cult are in the tens of billions of dollars. Mitt Romney is the first member of this cult who has had the legitimate opportunity to help them achieve their goal of mainstream acceptance while holding the most powerful office in the world. Romney will have the full resources of this cult behind him in his bid for the White House.”
He said if Romney wins the White House, millions of people will be attracted to Mormonism.
“Those who follow the false teachings of this cult, believe in the false jesus of the Mormon cult and reject faith in the one true Jesus of the Bible, will die and spend eternity in hell,” he charged. “Romney getting elected president will ultimately lead millions of souls to the eternal flames of hell!”
Keller also criticized Romney for political flip-flops on issues like abortion, citing a recent report that his wife donated money to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the world.
“Please take some time today and pray for Mitt Romney and all those who have been deceived by the lies of the Mormon cult,” Keller added. “The fact is that unless they renounce those lies and turn to faith in the one true Jesus of the Bible, they will die and spend eternity in hell.”
Keller was a businessman convicted of insider trading in 1989, a crime for which he served more than two years in federal prison. After getting out, he received a degree in biblical studies from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and has been in full-time ministry ever since.
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