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Civil Rights in America
September, 2007

From the Desk of
The Reverend Dr. Daniel E. H. Bryant


September 6, 2007

Dear Fellow Pastor,

I am writing to share my deep concern and dismay after reading in today's paper about the activities of groups circulating petitions in some of our churches. These groups are seeking to overturn Oregon's new domestic partnership and anti-discrimination laws (Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2007).

According to the complaint outlined in today's Statesmen Journal, there are two groups who are gathering signatures, and both are violating the law. The first group is "The Defense of Marriage and Families Again!" and is sponsoring the referenda to overturn these two laws. The second group is "Concerned Oregonians."

Both groups have misrepresented themselves to the public and especially to churches by collecting funds for the campaign under the pretence that these donations qualify for a tax credit. In fact, they do not. Only registered political committees that relate to elections qualify for the political tax credit.

I am particularly concerned by the actions of Concerned Oregonians. David Crowe, the head of Concerned Oregonians, has sent hundreds of Oregon pastors a letter imploring us to circulate these petitions among our congregations. He carefully assures us that doing so would not jeopardize a church's tax-exempt status. And yet, according to this complaint, his tactics circumvent the law and are likely illegal. His organization also claims to be the "sponsor" of the referenda, when that is not the case.

While it calls itself "Concerned Oregonians PAC", this group never been registered in the state of Oregon as a "political committee" nor is it the Chief Petitioner Committee for the referenda. This means that donations to Concerned Oregonians may not be claimed for Oregon's political tax credit.

Moreover, Concerned Oregonians is not subject to the important reporting requirements essential to a fair and just election process. Worse, those who wrongly claim a political tax credit may be committing tax fraud (unknowingly), diverting support away from for schools, law enforcement and other state services to a group that ignores the law in order to change it.

Regardless of how one might feel in the issue of gay rights, as pastors we should all be wary of those who blatantly violate the law and disregard the rules of our democratic government. It is especially important for churches to adhere to election laws and to not associate with those who disregard them.

I urge you to join me as a truly concerned Oregonian in disregarding all appeals from these organizations that cannot be trusted to provide pastors and churches with accurate information on such important political issues.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel E. H. Bryant, D. Min.
Senior Minister, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Eugene, Oregon


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