A tax break for Christianist extremists

Taxpayers continue to fund right-wing meetings to assess presidential candidates

By Sarah Posner
Posted on February 27, 2007, Printed on February 28, 2007

As reported on these pages two years ago, the Council for National Policy is a secretive association of influential ultra-conservatives who get charitable tax breaks for their membership dues and thrice yearly trips to fancy resorts to hobnob with politicians and policymakers. The secrecy surrounding an organization that was the brainchild of end-timers and right-wing financiers is contrary not only to democratic principles generally, but also to the Internal Revenue Code, which requires tax-exempt educational organizations to educate the general public — in other words, to make its lectures, publications and other materials publicly available.

The luxury resort meetings of the CNP have been reported for several years in the New York Times by David Kirkpatrick, who almost consistently notes the organization’s secrecy but not the fact that its members get a tax break despite the fact that they operate in secret. It’s a subject worth revisiting (and I don’t say this to toot my own horn), because my article exposing the tax-exempt boondoggle was a runner up for one of the top 25 censored stories of 2005. This past Sunday, in a piece entitled Christian Right Labors to Find ’08 Candidate, Kirkpatrick grants anonymity to a recent meeting’s attendees, and that anonymity was granted based on the internal policy of the CNP — although contrary to the law — that it function as a secret organization.

But the real point of the piece, of course, was not to question what the heck CNP is still doing doling out secret tax breaks to its influential members. Instead, it was a very public alert to all the Republican presidential candidates: as the Times put it, “A group of influential Christian conservatives and their allies emerged from a private meeting at a Florida resort this month dissatisfied with the Republican presidential field and uncertain where to turn.” Although the CNP’s meeting invitations are still secret, this particular invitation was quite public. A warm welcome to the first viable Republican presidential candidate to start pandering, pronto.

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