AU Asks IRS to Investigate Florida Church for Electioneering Against Gay Mayoral Candidate
by Lateefah Williams*
Mar 26, 2010
Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate a Florida church for improper electioneering. Americans United filed the complaint against Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, as a result of the church posting a sign on its property that read, "No Homo Mayor," in an apparent attempt to deter people from voting for Craig Lowe, an openly gay Gainesville mayoral candidate.
Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United, said in a press release that the "church freely admits that it intended to intervene in the election in violation of federal tax law. I urge the IRS to act promptly."
Also, while it is not mentioned in Americans United's IRS letter, Wayne Sapp, a pastor at Dove World Outreach Center, is shown in a video (warning: offensive content included) using derogatory language to encourage people to vote against the gay mayoral candidate in a rant that is clearly directed at Lowe. In the video, Sapp said that his church called 100 churches and said they want to rally and protest "against any homosexual running for office" in Gainesville.
Alachua County (Florida) officials visited the church on Wednesday to investigate whether it should lose its state and local tax exemption due to its for-profit business. "The leaders of Dove World Outreach Center also own TS and Company -- a for-profit, limited-liability corporation that sells furniture through eBay -- and both the church and the company operate at a 20-acre site on Northwest 37th Street, according to Alachua County and state records. Dove World's land and two buildings are valued at $1,651,200 but aren't taxed because churches are exempt under state law," according to the Gainesville Sun.back to Blog