The Spirit One Christian Center in South Wichita is under investigation amid accusations it may have tried to influence recent elections. Spirit One Pastor Mark Holick says he's only preaching the Gospel.
Under federal tax laws, non-profit organizations, like churches, are prohibited from participating in political campaigns on behalf of -- or in opposition to -- any candidate for public office. Any violation of that law, and the organization could lose it's tax exempt status.
The IRS believes Spirit One and Pastor Holick tried to influence voters by sending emails, posting online articles, and using the church's outdoor marquee to denounce Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Paul Morrison before last November's election. Holick, a staunch conservative, has long spoken out against issues like abortion and homosexuality. He says Sebelius and Morrison accepted blood money in the last election from Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Holick and members of his church have also attended rallies calling for the prosecution of Tiller, and have met on several occasions with former Attorney General Phill Kline.
Holick admits he wants voters to know what the candidates stand for, but says he never used his power as a pastor -- or his church -- to endorse a specific candidate. Holick says the IRS has turned into a free-speech Gestapo, trying to silence the opinions of Christians who are only following the Gospel.
The IRS investigation will likely take several weeks.