Pew-nitive damages: "Go thy way, and sin no more without consulting us first." That was the word handed down from the Church of World Peace (whose international headquarters is located in Denver) to Tonya Harding and Michael Jackson, both of whom received plenary indulgences for their sins--perceived or real--from the church on February 28. In conferring absolution, the church noted that it was simply carrying on an age-old tradition of the Catholic Church, which in the Middle Ages let thousands of people purchase forgiveness for their sins. "Although indulgences are a source of church revenue, we are not charging Tonya or Michael for forgiveness," added Reverend William Conklin, archbishop of the church and former Westword cover boy. "It is simply time to forgive and get on with life."

Not so fast, father. On the same day the church forgave two of America's favorite sinners, the U.S. Tax Court handed down its own judgment on Conklin, denying his organization tax-exempt status. Conklin had originally applied for--and been granted--that status back in 1978, when do-it-yourself religions were a big business. But the IRS had been investigating Conklin's congregation since 1981, contending that it "was not operated exclusively for religious purposes because it furnished extensive tax advice and assisted individuals in money-laundering transactions with the objective of enabling them to obtain charitable deductions for funds used to pay personal expenses." And even those religious purposes, the court observed, were a tad unorthodox, consisting as they did of conferring minister status on an individual for a mere ten bucks, "Born-Again Virginity" ceremonies and a Rent-a-Bishop service "described elsewhere in the record as the spiritual alternative to the singing telegram."

The church may appeal to higher authorities.

Lots of luck: "The City and County of Denver's Aviation Division is very aware of the importance of maintaining a close working relationship with the media." That was the word from aviation director Jim DeLong back in July 1993, when the Colorado Press Association inquired as to his office's plans for media facilities at Denver International Airport. Although the city certainly has more pressing concerns at DIA--such as getting it open--eight months later there's still no resolution of the matter. And while press parking at Stapleton (at the far, far end of the upper concourse) has been free, the Colorado Press and Colorado Broadcasters associations warn in a memo to their members that "we believe there is reason for concern that the current thinking is to charge parking fees for press parking at DIA."

Not, of course, that most people would blame the city if it did. But surely it wouldn't be unreasonable for DIA to grant an exemption--an indulgence, even--to the only reporters Mayor Wellington Webb thinks understand the airport issue (and Webb said as much--twice--on Peter Boyles's radio show Friday): Kevin Flynn of the Rocky Mountain News and Mike Fierberg of Channel 4.

Now if Webb would only explain Fierberg's house/chandelier/airport financing analogy.


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