The Daily Show of Comedy Central has often taken news and turned it into comedy. However, in a Pittsburgh case, a comedy segment is becoming news after lawyers have sought to introduce it as evidence in religious exercise case. The Church of Universal Love and Music does not want an interview (shown below) with William Pritts shown to the jury — an effort by county officials to show that the church is not a sincere religious organization. Pritts has been holding concerts on the land for fees and, according to officials, did not claim to be a church until he ran into zoning problems with his expansion plans. On the segment, Pritts insists that “God never said you can’t party on.” (Thou Shalt Party On must be the missing Eleventh Commandment).
It appears that Pritts believes that Moses had two tablets and an air guitar on Mount Sinai.
Pritts has been holding concerts on his 147-acre spread in Bullskin Township near Pittsburgh since 2002. He was trying to expand the facility with an amphitheater and other new building when he ran into resistance from the county — and allegedly found God.
When the county banned concerts, he sued for $1 million under a claim of the denial of free exercise.
The Daily Show segment aired Aug. 7, 2003 with correspondent Ed Helms. Among other things, Pritts is shown defending the need for “bogarting” or sharing joints at concerts: “Bogarting a joint? Uh, it’s kinda rude not to share.”
While courts are often reluctant to declare religious organizations to be insincere, the IRS regularly does so in the denial of tax exemption. There have been common scams to claim churches for tax purposes. For example, years ago, pilots were paying to become bishops in a church to claim their private aircraft as flying tabernacles. Likewise, there have been recent controversies over homes that claim religious status in holding parties. One such case occurred near the Church of Universal Love and Music. In Pittsburgh, John and Kim Ondrik insisted that they were not running a swinger’s club for profit but rather oversaw the Spiritual Palace of the Church for Spiritual Humanism.
For the video from the Daily Show, click here.
For the full story, click here.