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Using the Tax Code to Silence Churches

Late last month the Internal Revenue Service settled a lawsuit filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The lawsuit was brought because the FFRF said the IRS ignores complaints about churches violating their tax-exempt status. The FFRF says that many churches promote candidates, political issues and legislation and they claim these activities are violations of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which requires that non-profits not endorse candidates.

The IRS website describes the Johnson Amendment thusly:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial […] → Keep reading

IRS to Target Health of Conservatives?

At the same time the Internal Revenue Service was targeting Tea Party groups last year to help boost Barack Obama’s reelection chances, the Congressional Black Caucus, Attorney General Eric Holder and Valerie Jarrett were assisting hundreds of black pastors and churches on how best to participate in the 2012 election. The Congressional Black Caucus hosted a training session at the U.S. Capitol which was attended by black ministers from the Conference of National Black Churches, Holder, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman and Peter Lorenzetti, who was a senior official in the agency’s exempt organizations division, which was at the heart of the IRS scandal. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, (D-MO), chairman of the CBC said, “We’re going to, first of all, equip them with the information they need to know about what they can say and what they cannot say in the church that would violate their 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. In fact, we’re going to have the IRS administrator there. We’re […] → Keep reading