If you vote for Mitt Romney you are voting for Satan. Bill Keller
Bill Keller is one of the most controversial religious figures in Tampa Bay ... or Florida ... or the country, for that matter. The conservative Christian evangelist has no formal pulpit, at least not in a brick-and-mortar church, but he does get his message out far and wide via a radio show, Live Prayer with Bill Keller, weeknights from 11 p.m. to midnight on WWBA-AM 820; his Daily Devotional, which gets e-mailed to more than 2-million people a day; and his website, liveprayer.com, which, with help from his staff, answers prayer requests via e-mail.
Keller is known for his incendiary rhetoric and unbending view of Bible-based morality. He believes homosexuality is an abomination, abortion is murder and you can pretty much guess the rest.
I profiled Keller for this publication about five years ago and have maintained contact with him. He has always welcomed participating in hostile forums the idea being that he should go where the sinners are. Creative Loafing being the haven for sinners that it is, Keller and I have decided to do a series of Q&As. Its called The Devils Advocate Talks to Bill Keller. In case its not clear, Ill be playing the role of the Devils Advocate.
Keller recently called out the IRS, which he says has investigated whether he breached his tax exemption by railing against political candidates during the 08 campaign. The tax code bars religious institutions or their leaders from advocating for or against candidates. His main targets: Obama, McCain, Hilary Clinton and, especially, Mitt Romney, of whom he said, If you vote for Mitt Romney you are voting for Satan..
The St. Petersburg Times covered this story a few weeks ago. Check it out if youd like more background.
The Devil's Advocate: You said, If you vote for Mitt Romney you are voting for Satan. Why?
Bill Keller: That got taken from a devotional I did, warning people that Romney is part of the Mormon cult.
The fact is that those who follow the teachings of the Mormon cult will die and go to hell. Mormons like to refer to themselves as Christians when in fact their beliefs are totally inconsistent with what the Bible teaches.
The case I was making is that Romney, by virtue of being in the office of President, would have led people to check out what he calls his church, and people would die and go to hell. The goal of Satan is to lead men to hell.
Is that not advocating against a candidate?
Taken alone I could see how the statement could be construed that way. But under my tax exemption, I have every right to educate on spiritual matters, and that includes about Mormon doctrine.
But weren't you telling people not to vote for Romney?
No. I specifically made the point: Vote for him if you want, or dont vote for him. Thats a choice you have to make. I am here to educate you as far as what he believes, what the potential outcome of his getting elected could be in terms of the souls of people going to hell.
By going public, you have basically dared the IRS to strip you of your tax exemption. Isnt that risky?
They initiated the investigation under the pretense that the comments I made about the political candidates violated my tax exemption. I complied fully with them. They made three separate requests for documentation and I complied with them all. Its now time for them to make a ruling that what I said violated my tax exemption or leave me alone. My recourse is to go into federal court and litigate it.
I did not cross the line. The big picture here is not only a free speech issue, but whether pastors can talk about spiritual issues of the day that might cross over into the political arena.
When is the last time you heard from the IRS?
Is it stressful that the threat is still out there?
Absolutely. Its like a Damocles hanging over our heads.