Answering the Call

IRS employees bring Jesus to the office -- and manage to raise Cain

Donna Harper, another EEOC attorney, is also concerned that C-FIRE membership isn't limited to just rank-and-file IRS employees.

"Managers are allowed to be part of it," Harper says, noting that White identifies herself as an insolvency manager in the intranet postings. She worries workers who report to White may feel pressure to participate in the group to advance their careers.

Not only did Seely and Harper find the flier offensive, they believe it didn't conform to the GSA's guidelines to limit the content of the notices to "the time, date and place of meetings." Nowhere did the GSA say it was acceptable to depict a Bible, cross and singing choirs.

Mary A. Mickens, an IRS employee and co-president of the St. Louis C-FIRE chapter, declined to shed much light on her organization. Asked about the February rally, she said attendance "was OK," then ended the interview, saying she'd call back. She didn't.

Ken Jones, a lawyer and editor of Missouri Lawyers Weekly, says the controversy is a good illustration of conflict of between two First Amendment clauses: the prohibition against a government-established religion and the preservation of the right to exercise religion freely. And Jones says a critical issue, whenever religion is introduced in the workplace, is: "How far can employees go in freely exercising their religion before it starts to coerce other people in the workplace?"

There may be another dilemma -- one that's less constitutional and more theological. If devout Christians are processing tax returns this year, are they more likely to show mercy to taxpayers, or will they be more diligent in making sure Caesar gets his cut?

And Seely wonders about something else: "What happens to the taxpayers who show Planned Parenthood donations on their tax returns and the person reviewing your tax return is a C-FIRE fundamentalist?"

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