The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ that it has opened an investigation into possible “political activities” connected with Senator Barack Obama’s speech at the denomination’s national convention last year.
Efforts to portray the Chicago church of which Senator Barack Obama is a member as racist and anti-American are “absurd, mean-spirited and politically motivated,” said John Thomas, head of the United Church of Christ.
Joining protest with prayer, the head of the United Church of Christ was arrested October 10 outside the White House while attempting to deliver to President Bush a pastoral letter condemning the Iraq war.
A United Church of Christ congregation’s pro-gay stance puts it “at a higher risk” of litigation and property damage, a leading U.S. church insurer said in refusing to offer coverage to a Michigan congregation.
Mainline church leaders are expressing opposition to President Bush’s plan to escalate U.S. troop presence in Iraq. Some clergy drew parallels to Martin Luther King’s impassioned pleas decades ago against the ultimately fruitless American war in Vietnam.
Nearly a year after the 4,300-member Cathedral of Hope in Dallas voted to seek affiliation with the United Church of Christ, the gay congregation was admitted to membership October 29 by a regional association of the liberal denomination.
In a series of nationwide protests, a number of religious leaders have risked arrest by partaking in acts of civil disobedience in an effort to inspire a mass mobilization of people of faith against the Iraq war. Among those arrested in September protests in front of the White House was James Winkler, general secretary of the United Methodists’ General Board of Church and Society.
The United Church of Christ, whose often-daring progressive stances on full inclusion of homosexual worshipers in church life stir controversy inside and outside the denomination, suffered two losses last month.
A seminary is conducting an online self-defense course for United Church of Christ members besieged by conservative reactions to their denomination’s liberal social positions on gay rights and other issues.