Former spokesman for Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment Steve Klein filed a formal complaint with the IRS against local Pastor Jeff Adams, claiming he violated his tax exempt status after writing a …
Former spokesman for Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment Steve Klein filed a formal complaint with the IRS against local Pastor Jeff Adams, claiming he violated his tax exempt status after writing a column in the Oct. 21 edition of the Nisqually Valley News, commenting on the election.
“Pastor Adams identifying himself from Paramount Christian Church conveys the impression he is not speaking as an individual, rather as a church spokesperson and that his comments reflect church policy,” Klein said in a written statement.
Adams does not give Klein any credibility.
“Steve Klein doesn’t know the law. He’s been threatening the 501c3 status of the church I serve ever since he was caught lying to the public and breaking election rules back in 2005 when he lost his bid for mayor,” Adams said in a written statement. “Ever since that time he’s inserted himself, obnoxiously, all over the place, trying to have power and influence. I give him no credibility, whatsoever,”
Adams said the reason why he is identified as a local pastor is to bring credibility to his column.
“Never in any venue has this newspaper nor I even insinuated my weekly religious column is anything other than my personal opinions — no extension of any organization. My column has nothing to do with the church I serve. The newspaper chooses to put as a pertinent credential that I am a local pastor of a particular church,” Adams said in a written statement.
Klein also believes the NVN violated its own guiding principles of integrity, loyalty, value and service by running a religious column that discusses politics.
“I have extensive experience in public relations from an airline management career and have no issue with Adams’ personally taking aim at me since 2005 in your newspaper,” Klein said in a letter to Executive Regional Editor Michael Wagar and Lafromboise Communications Inc. owner Jenifer Lafromboise Falcon.
“While the newspaper’s conservative approach and direction can be understood, especially in your opinions about me, JZ Knight, and RSE, the Judaeo-Christian values your newspaper hold dear are anathema to the vileness of the ‘Finding Reason’ column that continues to be condoned by your weekly publication of such,” Klein wrote.
Wagar said he is not an expert in tax exempt status for religious institutions, but that it does appear Adams’ column does not break IRS tax exempt rules. Wagar also stated he defends Adams’ right to state his opinion in his column, and that anyone who disagrees with Adams’ writings is welcome to discuss in a letter to the editor.
“I think the free flow of ideas, even if they upset some people, or appear tasteless, is in the long run best for our Democracy,” Wagar said. “I try hard not to be a censor of ideas and thoughts, even if it gets a bet messy. As Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote in 1903, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’”
Adams has criticized RSE, which Klein is a student of, in his column. In one of his columns Adams said he would refrain from discussing RSE.
“Now we know that ‘refrain’ was a pause for just two months, as he wrote another diatribe in his Finding Reason column today against what he calls the ‘local cult,’ Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (RSE),” Klein said in the letter. “He has his opinion which he rightly should share with your readers, however that should be as a Letter to the Editor, as his continual and sharply abusive denunciations are inconsistent with a ‘Religious Column.’”
Adams has been in contact with people who are former members of RSE. He said he has seen the effect it has had on them and said the IRS complaint is an attempt to humiliate him.
“I’ve been an advocate for the Yelm community, helping victims of this local dangerous cult Klein belongs to for years,” Adams said in a statement. “Klein has been trying to publicly humiliate me for years because as I stand for victims, horrible truths about the cult come out.”
In the IRS Rules concerning tax exempt organizations, a number of hypothetical situations are described to help understand the rules. One of the situations is about a pastor endorsing a candidate for public office and the endorsement was written about in the community’s newspaper.
“Because the minister did not make the endorsement at an official church function, in an official church publication or otherwise use the church’s assets, and did not state that he was speaking as a representative of his church, his actions do not constitute campaign intervention by his church,” the situation states.
Although Adams made his political comments in a weekly column, he did not use any of his church resources in doing so and he was speaking as an individual and not as a pastor, he said.
“Never have I used my position in my church to endorse any party or candidate, and always encourage people to respect and honor those in authority — unlike him and his cult — public pictures of him holding an Impeach Bush sign are readily available on the Internet,” Adams said in a statement. “Remember, this is a guy proudly connected to an accused pedophile priest, and to a guru who has taught publicly that murder is OK.”
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