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Ohio group demands IRS action on churches

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 7 (UPI) -- Liberal clergy in Ohio accuse the Internal Revenue Service of bias for apparently ignoring a complaint against two conservative churches.

In a letter to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, the clergy said Fairfield Christian Church in Fairfield and World Harvest Church in Columbus have engaged in activity prohibited for tax-exempt organizations. The letter says the churches' support for the gubernatorial candidacy of Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell violates requirements that non-profit organizations treat all candidates in a race even-handedly.

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The Rev. Eric Williams of North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus told The New York Times this week the group plans to send a second letter to Everson because the IRS has taken no action. The clergy sent their first letter after seeing news reports of an IRS investigation into All Saints Episcopal, in Pasadena, Calif., for alleged activities in support of Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.

"The IRS really needs to take a more proactive stance if it's truly concerned about the political activities of all churches," Williams said.

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