IRS Scrutinizes World’s Largest Internet Evangelist – Bill Keller Says Supreme Court If Necessary

The story written by Laurie Goodstein broke in The New York Times Politics Blog June 23, 2008 and has garnered blog responses from around the nation. Keller who operates a live daily broadcast from St. Petersburg Florida and delivers a detailed daily devotional to over two million opt in subscribers is under a non-profit status as a Christian religious organization. By law he is prohibited from either endorsing or opposing candidates. This limitation includes anyone running for public office from the local selectman to presidential candidates.

In the early stages of the Republican primary race Keller created a media stir with the phrase “A vote for Romney is a vote for Satan.” It is that statement that seemed to get the attention of the IRS which now says Keller is involved in partisan politics and using his ministry as a vehicle for that purpose. “No” says Keller who states that his warnings about Romney were for religious reasons only. Keller repeatedly stated that the Mormon religion is in no way representative of “biblical Christianity.”

Not everyone is convinced that Keller is out of whack. One blogger on The Caucus blogs of The New York Times June 24, 2008 “Funny; Obama can stand in the pulpit of a church on Sunday morning ….no investigation…he speaks to the national convention of his church…the IRS says that is OK…yet an internet evangelist calls out Romney for being part of a cult and lying to people about being a Christian and he is investigated?”

The IRS will have a hard time deciding if Keller has violated his 501-C standing because the lines are blurred. In his own ministry Keller is bound to inform his adherents of possible dangers from people professing to be Christians when they are not. It is a biblical mandate. That is probably why Professor T. Wayne Bailey of Stetson University was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times for saying “”I think, in the past, when it became a controversial issue, the authorities have gone far afield to presume in the direction of the right of free expression. So unless someone commits a hard and fast violation, I think … administrations have simply relied on caution rather than punishment.”

Bill Keller has recently stated in the national media that Sen. Obama is not a Christian. In his daily devotional for June 26, 2008 Keller informed his 2.4 million subscribers that “The story broke across the nation Tuesday that Liveprayer has been under investigation by the IRS for possibly violating our tax exemption for holding Mitt Romney accountable for his lies and deceit about what the Mormon cult really believes. This has not silenced me or deterred me from doing the same regarding Senator Barack Hussein Obama’s claims that he is a Christian, when his own words and actions clearly show he is not. So many in the Liveprayer family emailed me their love and prayers and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. We cooperated fully and on time with the IRS and our attorneys are confident we did nothing wrong and will be fully exonerated.”