The Internet’s leading evangelist, Bill Keller of LivePrayer.com, is suggesting that the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State sic the Internal Revenue Service on his own church, the United Church of Christ.
That’s because that tax-exempt organization last weekend opened the podium of its general synod meetings to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
While in the podium, Obama lambasted the “religious right” for “hijacking” Christianity. “Faith got hijacked partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us,” he said.
Lynn earlier had asked the IRS to investigate the Florida ministry of Keller, who hosts 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 had said.
Lynn, the executive director of the group, urged an investigation into what the group called a “blatant example of religiously based partisan politicking.”
Now Keller has noted that the UCC, which “has openly gay clergy, supports gay marriage, and the killing of babies” has allowed Obama to criticize evangelicals “who are foolish enough to believe what the Bible says.”
“I don’t know what Bible they’re reading, but it doesn’t jibe with my version,” Obama said.
“Well Barak, I want to know what Bible YOU read! Dodging the fact he supports killing babies and special rights for homosexuals including redefining God’s definition of marriage, he tried to focus on other social issues like health care, poverty, and the environment. Those are all worthy issues, and issues we should, and MUST be concerned about. However, you simply can’t choose to compromise the Absolute Truth of God’s Word for political gain,” Keller wrote on his website.
“THERE IS NO COMPROMISING THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD! Jesus said if you love me, you will obey me. That means the Bible! As a Christian, Obama nor anyone has the luxury of picking and choosing what parts of the Bible they like and don’t like. It is not Obama’s truth that matters, it is God’s! This is why our final authority is NOT what any man says, but what God says in His Word.”
“As an interesting side note, even though he doesn’t pastor a church, or teach the Bible, or hold evangelistic meetings, for ‘credibility’ Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State is an ordained minister. Lynn, who recently asked the IRS to take away the tax exempt status of Liveprayer for my comments about the Mormon cult is ordained with….THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST!” Keller wrote.
“Now, you want to talk about hypocrisy! I made educational and spiritual comments about the fact Romney is part of a satanic cult, something I have every right to do, yet his own church at their annual convention has a man as one of their keynote speakers who is RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!” he added.
“Memo to Barry, what time are you going to send the letter to the IRS to ask them to revoke the tax exempt status of YOUR OWN CHURCH???” Keller wrote.
Rob Boston, the assistant director of communications for Americans United, said his group didn’t interpret the IRS regulations as Keller does.
“I think he’s guilty of making a false comparison. The material that Mr. Keller put up on his site about Mitt Romney clearly was designed to encourage people not to vote for Romney. It was pretty strong language coming from a Christian minister,” Boston told WND.
He said the IRS does not say political candidates cannot appear at religious meetings; it just list two categories: appearing as a candidate or appearing as a “celebrity.”
The church invited Obama, Boston said, “because he’s so popular.”
He did, however, admit that Obama’s own reference to his candidacy probably was inappropriate.
“When a political figure is appearing as a non-candidate the organization is supposed to make sure the individual appearing does not seek votes or engage in partisan activities,” he said.
Earlier, Keller had 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 earlier, 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 said Romney wasn’t a target; he was trying to expose the Mormon church, saying when LDS members talk of God and Jesus they are not talking about the God and Jesus of Christianity.
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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