Spirit One Christian Center marquee

The IRS has dropped its two-year investigation of a Christian church whose pastor is a leader in the local pro-life efforts after the church posted moral statements on its marquee sign.

As WND reported, Wichita, Kan., Pastor Mark Holick’s church, Spirit One Christian Center, was targeted by the IRS in April 2007 for “engaging in political activities.”

One of his messages said, “Sebelius accepted $100,000 from abortionist Tiller, price of 1000 babies.” A separate posting from earlier this year repeated Obama’s statement from a campaign speech about sex education: “I don’t want [my daughters] punished with a baby.”

The notice Holick received from the IRS warned him about putting his Christian beliefs on the sign, and he responded that he would continue to preach the Word of God.

He explained the signs all “are spiritual messages that communicate God’s truth or are directly related to messages in the Bible.” He also provided the IRS with a list of dozens of biblical instructions “to lift up Jesus, to rebuke sin, to save babies, to be honest, to take a righteous stand” and others.

Politics are of no interest to the church; issues of moral character addressed in the Bible are, Holick told the agency two years ago.

“The church does not intend to engage in political intervention activity as prohibited by federal law and the United States Constitution,” he told the IRS. “But the church will not stop communicating its Biblical message, even if it relates to contemporary issues in the world.

“Thus,” Holick continued, “the church cannot agree to not engage in any activity that may favor or oppose a candidate. Simply preaching the word of God on a moral issue which a candidate is opposed, may be deemed to oppose a candidate. While it is the church’s policy not to oppose or endorse a candidate for office, it will not stop preaching God’s word.”

Holick told WND the church simply continued to address issues that the Bible addresses, such as killing and protecting the defenseless.

“We just went on doing what we had always done and tried to be as faithful as we could,” he said. “We kind of forgot about it and carried on, really.”

According to Holick, the IRS also indicated that it was investigating the church’s involvement in a voter registration drive, “Operation Easy Vote,” and e-mails and articles written about pro-life and pro-abortion candidates.

Late abortionist George Tiller with then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius at governor’s mansion April 2007

“Obviously the IRS does not believe that the First Amendment applies to Christian people who attend Christian church,” Holick said in a statement. “The IRS growled, barked, threatened. At one point we had a meeting with officers from the IRS. Five IRS agents flew in from out of town and sixth one on the speaker phone to investigate this small church in Wichita, Kan., that puts words on a marquee sign. Your tax money well spent.”

Two years and three months after initial notification of the government investigation, Spirit One Christian Center received notice that the case is being dropped.

“The IRS is closing this examination because of a pending issue regarding the procedure used to initiate the inquiry,” states an IRS letter dated June 26, 2009.

“The IRS did and said many things to try to scare us into silence and compliance,” Holick said. “The IRS, an unaccountable section of government, has become a tool of the gates of hell, used to try to intimidate Christian people and churches into silence.”

The agency letter continued with a statement saying that it may reopen the case at a later date.

“The IRS may commence a future inquiry to address the concerns described in the NCTI and NCTE (Notice of Church Tax Inquiry and Notice of Church Tax Examination) after it resolves that procedural issue,” it stated.

“We’re certainly glad they decided to drop the investigation,” Holick said. “Of course, we would have liked for them to just drop it completely, but it was a nominal victory.”

He said the IRS oversteps its bounds when it attempts to regulate Christians’ freedom of speech.

“What on earth is the IRS doing to come anywhere near trying to control the content and free speech of American Christian people and Christian churches?” he asked. “How far of a jump is it to go from an organization that collects taxes to controlling religious speech?”

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