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CHRISTIAN NEWS 

How more ministries going digital could unwittingly aid atheists targeting church tax breaks.

Critics of churches' favorable tax treatment gained ammunition from a recent investigation by National Public Radio, which questioned why the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has granted church status to 22 of America's 30 largest television ministries.

Only two are accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. But such filings can be legitimate, said president Dan Busby. "The advent of new technologies used by churches to disseminate their message has only served to make distinctions between church and parachurch organizations more complex."

Many churches leverage today's technology so those beyond their walls can participate. But Christian legal experts are concerned that blurred lines between "church" and "ministry" will eventually spur the IRS to reexamine what constitutes a church. (The agency last stripped a nonprofit of church status in 2004, largely because the broadcasting- and publishing-focused group mostly ceased to gather its followers in a physical space.)

In late 2012, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the IRS, arguing that churches should be subject to the same Form 990 paperwork as nonprofits are. A Wisconsin federal court decided that the atheist group had legal standing to proceed.

If the foundation prevails, church formation may be stifled, said Chicago attorney Rich Baker. Few of the hundreds of churches he has represented have the financial resources to complete registration forms and audited financial statements.

"Each signals a greater degree of oversight," said Baker. "If they make churches file as charitable entities, it would have major repercussions."

A federal judge in Kentucky recently dismissed ...

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How more ministries going digital could unwittingly aid atheists targeting church tax breaks.

Critics of churches' favorable tax treatment gained ammunition from a recent investigation by National Public Radio, which questioned why the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has granted church status to 22 of America's 30 largest television ministries.

Only two are accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. But such filings can be legitimate, said president Dan Busby. "The advent of new technologies used by churches to disseminate their message has only served to make distinctions between church and parachurch organizations more complex."

Many churches leverage today's technology so those beyond their walls can participate. But Christian legal experts are concerned that blurred lines between "church" and "ministry" will eventually spur the IRS to reexamine what constitutes a church. (The agency last stripped a nonprofit of church status in 2004, largely because the broadcasting- and publishing-focused group mostly ceased to gather its followers in a physical space.)

In late 2012, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the IRS, arguing that churches should be subject to the same Form 990 paperwork as nonprofits are. A Wisconsin federal court decided that the atheist group had legal standing to proceed.

If the foundation prevails, church formation may be stifled, said Chicago attorney Rich Baker. Few of the hundreds of churches he has represented have the financial resources to complete registration forms and audited financial statements.

"Each signals a greater degree of oversight," said Baker. "If they make churches file as charitable entities, it would have major repercussions."

A federal judge in Kentucky recently dismissed ...

Continue reading...

Christian mother once sentenced to death for her faith now bound for United States with her family.

JUBA, South Sudan (MSN) – After blocking her departure on a spurious charge of forged travel documents, Sudan today allowed a Christian mother sentenced to die over a false allegation of leaving Islam to leave the country, her attorney said.

Having given birth to her second child while shackled to prison chains just two months ago, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim arrived in Italy today and met with Pope Francis after U.S. and Italian efforts to free her. "The government decided to drop charges against her yesterday, July 23," attorney Thabit al Zubair told Morning Star News. "They have left Sudan and they are now in Italy." Ibrahim and her husband, dual South Sudanese/U.S. citizen Daniel Wani, arrived in Rome on an Italian government jet today with plans to continue to the United States. A Vatican spokesman told The Associated Press that the pope "thanked her for her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity." The couple arrived to cheers, greeted by the Italian prime minister, with their infant daughter Maya, born May 27, and nearly 2-year-old son Martin, who had remained with his mother since her imprisonment without trial in February. Muslims claiming to be relatives had accused her of leaving Islam. Ibrahim says that she was raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother, and that her Muslim father disappeared when she was 6 years old. She was released from prison in Sudan on June 23, less than two months after Morning Star News broke the story of false charges of apostasy against her that set off a firestorm of international protests, only to be detained at the Khartoum airport less than 24 hours later. More than 40 agents from the National Intelligence ...

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