Mr. Lynn is probably guilty of cherry-picking every time he opens his hypocritical mouth, but since this incident involves criticism of a presidential candidate, it deserves more attention. Mr. Lynn thinks a Catholic bishop violated the establishment clause when he criticized Giuliani’s abortion views in a church newsletter.
Providence [RI] Bishop Thomas Tobin blasted Giuliani in the May edition of the Rhode Island Catholic, criticizing the Republican candidate for saying he personally opposes abortion but wouldn’t support an outright ban if elected president.
“Those comments broke federal laws banning tax-exempt religious groups such as the Diocese of Providence from endorsing or opposing political candidates,” said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed the complaint.
“The bishop is not a political boss, and he shouldn’t be telling his flock with church resources which candidate to oppose,” Lynn said. “This letter is a completely over-the-top example of a politicization of the pulpit of the bishop.”
First of all, there is nothing wrong with a church leader criticizing a politician for his views. He did not instruct his flock to not vote for Giuliani. And even if he did in the newsletter, current IRS rules only prevent a religious leader from endorsing a candidate as a church body. He is allowed to say what is wrong and right with a certain candidate so Tobin’s criticism falls within the laws.
Second, and more importantly, American’s United is applying its typical double standard on those who subscribe to pro-life, pro-family views. Where was Barry Lynn when Rev. Jim Wallis hosted a one-sided religious debate for Democratic presidential candidates on CNN earlier this month? While American’s United dissects Tobin’s statement, they have ignored a blatant affront to the separation of church and state on network television.
Of course, the reason for having Wallis host the debate was to discuss, among other things, religion for the Democrat candidates. This entertains me and I hope to see more it in future debates. I do not find Wallis’ event to be in violation of the First Amendment, but I do think that it illustrates Barry Lynn’s usual double standard in bullying Christians.