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Eight years ago, it emerged that, during Obama’s reelection campaign, the IRS refused to grant tax-exempt status to Tea Party groups. Since then, the IRS has been relatively dormant. However, it’s now back at its old tricks. The Epoch Times reports that, when the IRS received an application for tax-exempt status from a Texas group that encourages its members to pray for all state and national leaders, an official denied the application on partisan political grounds.
Here are the facts from the Epoch Times:
An IRS official denied tax-exempt status to a Texas group that encourages church members to pray for state and national leaders, regardless of their party affiliation, because it benefits “the private interests of the [Republican] Party.”
“You do not qualify as an organization described in IRS Section 501(c)(3). You engage in prohibited political campaign intervention,” wrote Stephen A. Martin, director of the IRS Office of Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements, in a May 18 letter (pdf) to Christians Engaged, the Garland, Texas-based prayer group recognized by Texas officials as tax-exempt.
“You are also not operated exclusively for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c)(3), because you operate for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the D party.”
While a reference to the “D party” makes it appear that the group supported Democrats, in fact, Martin’s letter explained that “D” stands for the Republican party. Go figure.
Martin also took a deep dive into doctrinal issues to make his point:
Martin also noted that the group’s activities “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,” he wrote.
“The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the D party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRS Section 501(c)(3).”
Martin’s correct that, if there were a Venn diagram, there would be overlap between those who are religious conservatives and the Republican party. However, overlap is not the same as a complete alignment. Biden insists that he’s Mr. Catholic regardless of his abortion politics; pro-Life Democrats are disappointed with Biden; anti-Trump Evangelical Christians foolishly thought Biden would respect their faith in the political sphere, and certainly deeply religious Muslims and Catholics, because of more pressing concerns than faith (ending Israel for some Muslims and opening the border for some Catholics) strongly support the Democrats.
First Liberty Institute is appealing the decisions on behalf of Christians Engaged. In a press release, Lea Patterson, an attorney for First Liberty Institute explained Martin’s conceptual error:
“Only a politicized IRS could see Americans who pray for their nation, vote in every election, and work to engage others in the political process as a threat. The IRS violated its own regulations in denying tax exempt status because Christians Engaged teaches biblical values.”
In addition, Martin was legally incorrect:
In its administrative appeal letter, First Liberty says, “By finding that Christians Engaged does not meet the operational test, Director Martin errs in three ways: 1) he invents a nonexistent requirement that exempt organizations be neutral on public policy issues; 2) he incorrectly concludes that Christians Engaged primarily serves private, nonexempt purposes rather than public, exempt purposes because he thinks its beliefs overlap with the Republican Party’s policy positions; and 3) he violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech, and Free Exercise, and Establishment clauses by engaging in both viewpoint discrimination and religious discrimination.”
Many would argue that the IRS is the single-most powerful agency in the federal government. While the FBI has shown itself to be ruthless in pursuit of political power, it is the IRS that has its fingers in every single pocket, bank account, savings account, and organization in America. Its Tea Party shenanigans show that its bureaucratic reach could, arguably, change election outcomes.
It makes sense the IRS is a partisan Democrat organization, despite its mandate to be non-partisan. When John F. Kennedy signed his executive order unionizing the federal administration, he turned the entire federal government into a branch of the Democrat party. Democrats dig into taxpayers’ pockets to give federal employees salaries and benefits far exceeding benefits for similarly situated employees in the private sector. In turn, the federal unions ensure that a chunk of that taxpayer money goes right back to the Democrats.
In 2024, if we get a Republican president who cannot be intimidated, the first thing he should do is revoke Kennedy’s executive order on the grounds that it has corrupted the government (just as Franklin Roosevelt (Dem.) knew it would).