By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service accusing Pastor Robert Jeffress of violating the law when he posted his endorsement of presidential hopeful Rick Perry on the First Baptist Church of Dallas website.
Jeffress, the head of First Baptist Church, endorsed Perry at Friday's Values Voter Summit, the same event where he called Mormonism a 'cult.' After the event, Jeffress went on a media blitz and posted a video of himself explaining his comments on the church's website.
The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said when Jeffress posted the endorsement on the church's website, he was offering an endorsement from the church, a violation of IRS rules for tax-exempt organizations like churches.
"The tax code has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to campaigning for candidates," Lynn said. "If you put something on your church website, it is not enough to put a disclaimer on it."
Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah is an award-winning comedian who has appeared on TV shows such as Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil" special, ABC's "The View," CNN's "What the Week" and HLN's "The Joy Behar Show."
By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
The Rev. Robert Jeffress, a leading evangelical minister, claimed last Friday that Mormons are not Christians. Jeffress went on to declare that Mormonism is "a cult," meaning it's not a "real" religion, and he implored his followers to reject Mitt Romney, a Mormon, as a candidate for president because as Jeffress sees it: "As Christians, we have the duty to prefer and select Christians as our leaders."
Jeffress is infamous for his past "Christian" comments such as: Jews, gays, Muslims and Mormons are all going to hell; Islam encourages pedophilia; and that gays should be banned from the military because 70% of the gay population has AIDS.
At the time of Jeffress' comments about Mormons, I happened to be in Utah, the state with the largest percentage of Mormons in the nation. I'm not Mormon, meaning I'm not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And prior to this trip, I had met only a few members of the LDS Church.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – A handful of Republican candidates took aim at Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan at Tuesday night’s presidential debate, but only one went so far as to imply it could be the devil's work.
“When you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside won, the devil is in the details," Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said during the New Hampshire debate, alluding to the number 666, which is commonly connected to Satan.
The New Testament’s Book of Revelation identifies 666 with the mark of the beast, sometimes referred to as the antichrist or the devil.
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
(CNN)– Israel's government approved an extraordinary deal Tuesday night - agreeing to release more than 1,000 Palestinians from prison, including hundreds serving life sentences for attacks on Israelis, in exchange for a single slender young Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.
But the exchange of 1,027 inmates for a single captive does make sense in a Jewish context, Rabbi Arik Ascherman explained Wednesday.
"Judaism places ultimate value on human life. Therefore in the Jewish tradition, in Jewish law, redeeming captives trumps just about everything else," said Ascherman, of Rabbis for Human Rights. "It takes priority over anything else you can possibly do."
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.