(RNS)  The Internal Revenue Service, in the limelight this week (May 17) after a watchdog panel said it used “inappropriate criteria” when considering applications for tax-exempt status by Tea Party groups, is also under fire from religious organizations.

Here’s a list of faith-related groups that have reported what they consider to be inappropriate or unusual action by the IRS:

Updated Wednesday (May 22): Freedom Federation, an initiative of Liberty Counsel, a law firm focused on religious liberty, whose founder Mat Staver says he is still waiting for its 501(c)(4) status to be approved. An application was filed in July 2012.

Biblical Recorder, the North Carolina Baptist news journal that published a 2012 interview with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy in which he said he was “guilty as charged” when asked about his support of the “traditional family.” The paper also supported the North Carolina marriage amendment. The IRS completed an audit of the news journal on May 9.

Evangelists Franklin Graham, left, and Billy Graham, right, stop on North Galvez Street in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. Religion News Service photo by Ellis Lucia/The Times-Picayune of New Orleans

Evangelists Franklin Graham, left, and Billy Graham, right, stop on North Galvez Street in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. Religion News Service photo by Ellis Lucia/The Times-Picayune of New Orleans


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which ran 2012 ads (paid for with designated funds from donors) supporting a North Carolina amendment that banned same-sex marriage and urging voters to consider candidates based on “biblical principles and support of Israel.” It was audited in October 2012.

Catholic League, conservative advocacy group, which says it was targeted shortly after the 2008 election of President Obama. Bill Donohue, the group’s president, said the IRS determined it “intervened in a political campaign,” but the group kept its tax-exempt status.

Catholics United Education Fund, an affiliate of the progressive Catholics United, which had an application that “languished for years” before its registration was approved.

Christian Voices for Life, a group based in Fort Bend County, Texas, which suffered delays in its application for tax-exempt status in 2011, the Thomas More Society said.

Coalition for Life of Iowa, which says it promotes “respect for human life … through prayer, education and raising awareness,” faced delays before getting its tax-exempt status in 2009, said the Thomas More Society.

james dobson

Christian conservative leader James Dobson, the founder of the Focus on the Family ministry, has gained a new title: novelist. RNS photo by Harry Langdon.


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Family Talk Action, the advocacy arm of James Dobson’s Family Talk, said its application for 501(c)(4) status was delayed and questioned between 2011 and 2013.

Samaritan’s Purse, which was audited in October 2012. Its president, Franklin Graham, wrote a letter to President Obama calling the audit, and that of the BGEA, “un-American.”

Z Street, a conservative Jewish organization, which has a July 2 hearing in U.S. district court after it sued the IRS for viewpoint discrimination.

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23 Comments

  1. Unless an organization is totally and strictly, “exclusively,” for human welfare, it should never be given IRS approval as a 401tax-exempt entity. The IRS had no legal right to change the wording of the original law from “exclusively” to “primarily” way back in 1959. All our governments since then have operated unconstitutionally, illegally, by giving 401 status to any other type of confirmed group. The solution is to simply end all exemptions to any operations that are not “exclusively” for human welfare purposes, according to the original law. That does not include politics!

  2. Right wing propaganda groups looking for a big government handout in the form of tax exemption. Now you’ve been caught and are trying to blame Obama and the IRS. Liars, welfare queens, and cry babies, all of you.

    • Herbie- this is not about handouts and welfare monies, it is about corruption not seen in my 60 plus years of living here in the United States. Your comment leads me to believe that you are nothing more than a partisan Obama hack who out of ignorance fails to see the real problem created by the IRS. This is about integrity and government trust which the Obama administration has very little of when it comes to doing the right thing for America.

  3. David Thompson

    Just imagine the revenue if they ended tax exempt status for religion. We could solve the debt crisis in a very short period. None of those complaining should be considered for exemption in the first place.

  4. Christians, you voted for this mess last November when you voted for Barack Obama. A most unfortunate and costly error on your part. The targeting of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and of progressive and conservative Catholic organizations, is only the beginning.

    • David Thompson

      Yes, the reprisal of the theocrats. And Kerry talks about freedom of religion in other countries, while the US is an f’ing christian theocracy.

  5. Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Christians should as in ALL things lead by example, since we all know words are easy to twist into whatever you want, your actions show what you value and really believe. By paying your taxes you show your commitment to your county, your civilization, but more importantly to your neighbor which in turn is an act of love for them. The church should pay taxes it would be an example to us all in our commitment to loving our neighbor. Lastly it would allow them them to speak to whatever concern that churches body feels without any concern of breaking the law and since they are paying for their government in must listen in turn and their congregation would be more likely to pay their taxes too. If you are paying for the service then you are more likely to hold it responsible for it action. Please consider this if you want a great nation then someone has to pay for it.

  6. Christians are known by their actions and words. Lead, stop attacking . Don’t seek tax breaks, beware of “helpful” politicals. Ministers should minister, not get involved in politics. Churches should follow the Great Commission, not tell people how to vote. Trust God, don’t trust man. Tame the tongue. Be humble.

  7. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Our Founding Fathers who created what has become the most successful and free nation on earth were deathly afraid of one basic problem: government tyranny. That is why they put so many protections from government power into our constitution through divisions of power. One need only read the history of the blood-drenched 20th Century to see how just their fears were.
    Yet to hear some quarters in the media today the worst outcome of the IRS and APress scandals involving gross abuse of government power is that Americans will become less worshipful of government. But that loss of idol-worshipping of governmet might be the best result of these scandals.

  8. The IRS does the will of the messiah in the White House and he does not like the Messiah in heaven. The one in the WH does not like Christians or whites to cling to religion (although he needs the votes of self deprecating white liberals to win). So he (the one in the WH) uses the IRS to “target” the Tea Party (shouldn’t that be illegal), corporations, religions and even STATES that he considers no good. He sees the WH as his personal tool to attack anything he does not like (and it is anything UNLIKE him).

  9. This article is not very convincing. It is anecdotal, and suffers from selection bias. So a few groups experienced audits and delays. What does that prove? The IRS performs many audits. And I’m pretty sure it experiences regular backlogs which produce long waiting times. Where is the evidence that religious groups experienced these things to a greater degree than any other type of group?

  10. David Thompson

    As long as nitwit organizations are allowed to function as legitimate institutions, there will be political insanity. Exclude all religious organizations and the problem goes away and/or funds the deficit in the process.

  1. [...] Religious groups that claim they were IRS targets (RNS) The Internal Revenue Service, in the limelight this week after a watchdog panel said it used “inappropriate criteria” when considering applications for tax-exempt status by Tea Party groups, is also under fire from religious organizations. Here's … Read more on Religion News Service [...]

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