Street ministry stripped of charitable status for allegedly political views

By TARINA WHITE Calgary Sun

The Canada Revenue Agency has stripped a Calgary church of its charitable status, arguing its minister spends too much time denouncing homosexuality and abortion.

Kings Glory Fellowship head pastor Artur Pawlowski, who also runs Street Church Ministries in Calgary, said the CRA removed their charitable status last October, stating the church spends more than 10% of its time advocating political issues.

“We note from the applicant’s website that the members of the board of directors espouse strong negative views about sensitive and controversial issues, which may also be viewed as political, such as abortion, homosexuality, divorce, etc.,” the CRA wrote to Pawlowski.

The government agency also said a petition in support of Street Church Ministries, which earlier came under attack by the city for noise, “may also be regarded as political.”

Pawlowski last month appealed the decision and is awaiting a verdict.

“I have intentions to take this to court, if need be,” he said Saturday, adding the church had charitable status for more than 30 years. 

“I’m a pastor (and) I have a right to express my views — they are not political issues, they are moral and social issues.”

Losing charitable status means donors can no longer receive a tax receipt, but Pawlowski said that hasn’t impacted donations.

Calgary Catholic Bishop Fred Henry supports Pawlowski’s appeal, saying he’s concerned the CRA could come down on other churches for the reasons it cited.

“Without really understanding what the nature of religion is, they’ve come down hard on him and I think it’s an unjust move,” said Henry.

“They really don’t seem to understand that religion entails much more than just simply worship — it entails… freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.”

tarina.white@sunmedia.ca

http://www.calgarysun.com/news/alberta/2010/01/23/12588276.html

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