In Leakey, Texas

FFRF calls for IRS to investigate "Vote for the Mormon" church marquee

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging the Internal Revenue Service to investigate an egregious case of illegal campaign activity at a church in Leakey, Texas.

FFRF has received numerous complaints about Church in the Valley's blatant attempt to dish out political propaganda over its recent church marquee. The sign told passersby: "Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim! The capitalist, not the communist!" (Click here to view an image of the marquee.) 

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Church in the Valley is prohibited from taking any part in a political campaign, especially on behalf of a candidate.

"Church in the Valley appears to have inappropriately used its religious organization to intervene in a political campaign. It violated IRS regulations by expressly advocating its support for Mitt Romney in the upcoming presidential election. Given these partisan activities, Church in the Valley violated the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt rules, which prohibit electioneering," wrote FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert in an Oct. 19 letter to the IRS.

This outrageous marquee has been attracting national attention and locals seem to think the sign is anything but controversial. The editor of the town's newspaper told The San Antonio Express-News, "We're rural and we have our own set of ideas."

Today the marquee can only be found in old news stories, as it has been removed and replaced with a new message: "Liberals talk about ‘The War on Women?' Fifty percent of all aborted babies are women!"

Church in the Valley Pastor Ray Miller has told several reporters that the sign was his idea "because he feels strongly about the election."

"Even though the marquee has been removed FFRF requests that the IRS commence an immediate investigation of Church in the Valley. It is imperative that this church is held accountable for its obvious abuse of the law," added Markert.

The town of Leakey is about 90 miles from San Antonio and has a population of 425.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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