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IRS investigating televangelist Bill Keller

Religion News Blog, Amsterdam, Netherlands
June 26, 2008 News Roundup • Thursday June 26, 2008

IRS investigating televangelist Bill Keller

Controversial televangelist Bill Keller is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service for violating federal regulations that prohibit tax-exempt organizations from political partisanship.

Keller, host of a live television program on the Internet, said the IRS investigation was triggered by his criticism of former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith.

Keller, 50, said that “a vote for Romney is a vote for Satan.” He insists he did nothing to break the law.

“My whole issue with Romney is, just be honest about what your cult believes and quit trying to pass yourself off as a Christian,” he said, adding that his responsibility is to educate people about spiritual matters.

Keller could be heading for further trouble. In recent weeks he has stepped up his criticism of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

“He has aggressively marketed himself to the public as a Christian,” Keller said during a telephone interview Tuesday. “The problem is in his public statements, he has stated numerous things that are totally inconsistent with the Christian faith.”

Keller, who lives in Largo and has his TV studios there, added that his criticism of Obama “has nothing to do with his politics, his race.”

Keller, who launched his TV program in 2003, has been an ordained minister for the past 17 years. Before that he served 31 months in federal prison for insider trading, completing his sentence in 1992.

- Source: Waveney Ann Moore, IRS investigating televangelist Keller, St. Petersburg Times, June 25, 2008

• Mit Romney is a Mormon. While Mormons consider themselves to be Christians — and the Mormon Church considers itself to be the only legitimate expression of the Christian faith — Christians reject Mormonism, considering it to be — theologically — a cult of Christianity. That is because Mormon doctrines and practices directly contradict and/or reject various essential doctrines of the Christian faith.

• The Phoenix writes:

Is Calling Romney Satanic Religious Or Political?

Tax-exempt religious organizations, like other non-profits, may not participate in partisan political advocacy under IRS rules.

Since last year, the Christian right has been talking about challenging that rule in ’08. But their carefully laid plan of attack has been snarled by the wonderfully loopy Bill Keller — “world leading Internet evangelist.”

Keller argues that he was merely making a religious statement about the tenets of Christianity vs. Mormonism. But it sure sounds like a political statement against voting for a specific candidate. Where’s the line?

- Source: David S. Bernstein, Is Calling Romney Satanic Religious Or Political?, The Phoenix, June 24, 2008

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