In May, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) appeared to resurrect its notorious focusing on of conservative teams beneath President Barack Obama, however with a very terrifying twist — it denied a 501(c)(3) tax exemption to a Texas-based Christian group as a result of its Bible-based Christian teachings “are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.” On Wednesday, the IRS relented, belatedly granting the exemption however refusing to ship a proof or apology.
“Dear Applicant,” the shape letter reads. “We’re pleased to tell you we determined you’re exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3).” The IRS despatched the letter to the Texas-based group Christians Engaged together with its legislation agency, First Liberty Institute. First Liberty offered a copy of the letter to PJ Media.
The letter didn’t point out the earlier denial and it didn’t supply a proof or an apology. Even so, First Liberty and Christians Engaged celebrated the reversal.
“This is truly great news for our client, as well as religious organizations and churches across America,” Lea Patterson, counsel for First Liberty Institute, stated in an announcement. “We are grateful the IRS changed course to bring its decision into line with the Constitution and its own regulations.”
“I am incredibly thankful to the IRS for doing the right thing, and we look forward to continuing our mission of educating more followers of Jesus to pray for our nation and to be civically engaged,” Christians Engaged President Bunni Pounds stated. “When we stand up, our republic works for all Americans.”
While the IRS’s reversal is heartening, it could not allay the very critical considerations that IRS Exempt Organizations Director Stephen A. Martin raised when he denied the tax exemption within the first place.
In a letter on May 18, 2021, Martin denied Christians Engaged’s software, claiming that the Christian group “engage[s] in prohibited political campaign intervention” and “operate[s] for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the [Republican] party.”
Most egregiously, Martin prompt that no Bible-based group might be exempt from taxation. He wrote that Christians Engaged goals to “educate believers on national issues that are central to their belief in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations. The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under lRC Section 50I(c)(3).”
As First Liberty Institute famous in its attraction of the rejection, there isn’t a requirement that tax-exempt organizations be impartial on public coverage points; Christians Engaged doesn’t serve non-public, nonexempt functions simply due to its Christian worldview; and the rejection violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech, Free Exercise, and Establishment clauses by way of viewpoint discrimination and non secular discrimination.
The reversal represents progress, however the truth that the IRS denied the appliance within the first place, coupled with the acute claims the IRS used to interact in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, stays worrisome.
Under Obama, the IRS focused tea get together organizations for further scrutiny and even denial of tax-exempt standing. IRS officers lengthy denied the partisan nature of their focusing on, and lots of on the Left insist that the scandal by no means occurred. Yet Martin’s unique letter to Christians Engaged threatened one thing much more sinister than the IRS focusing on scandal.
If the IRS claims that biblical values are tied to the GOP and subsequently no biblical group can have a tax-exempt standing, what does that imply for church buildings?
At least one Democrat — Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) — has threatened to focus on the Roman Catholic Church’s tax-exempt standing if the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) drafts guidelines on Communion that he doesn’t like.
“Unfortunately, the IRS seems to agree with Representative Huffman, as it demonstrated recently by denying a religious organization’s tax exemption because, as its letter stated, ‘[B]ible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party.’ But the tax code must not become a weapon for Washington elites to punish churches who hold religious beliefs they dislike,” Patterson, the First Liberty counsel, advised PJ Media in June.
Other Democrats have additionally supported an identical weaponization of the tax code. In a congressional listening to in 2019, Democrats cited the far-Left scandal-plagued Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in demanding that the IRS take away tax-exempt standing from “hate groups.” The SPLC routinely manufacturers mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups” as a consequence of their opposition to the Left’s narrative and activism on LGBT points, Islam, and immigration.
In the wake of a scandal involving claims of racial discrimination and sexual harassment that noticed the SPLC fireplace its co-founder and lose its president and authorized director, a former SPLC worker outed the “hate-group list” as a “masterstroke of [the founder]’s marketing talents.” This appeared to substantiate claims that the hate group listing is a cynical fundraising scheme, relatively than a respectable report.
The “hate group” accusation additionally provides the SPLC a method to destroy its political enemies. Former SPLC spokesman Mark Potok additionally revealed an animus in opposition to the organizations on the listing. He stated the SPLC’s “aim in life” is to “destroy these groups.” In 2012, a deranged man focused the Christian non-profit group the Family Research Council (FRC), aiming to kill everybody within the constructing and smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich into his victims’ faces. He advised the FBI he focused FRC as a result of SPLC’s “hate group” accusation. The SPLC has not dropped that accusation.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) led the combat in opposition to tax-exempt standing for “hate groups,” and she or he just lately led her fellow Democrats to publicly reward the SPLC’s latest “hate group” report.
In this local weather, the IRS’s mere reversal appears inadequate. Martin owes Americans a proof, and he owes biblical Christians an apology.