IRS Sued For Not Enforcing Ban On Political Endorsements By Churches

Religious institutions should have had their tax-exempt status, which is contingent on not telling congregants how to vote, stripped a long time ago. This court case is largely symbolic, but hopefully it awakens discussion on this issue. The Freedom From Religion Foundation announces its legal action against the IRS:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking the Internal Revenue Service to court over its failure to enforce electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations, calling it a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and of FFRF’s equal protection rights. FFRF filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

A widely circulated Bloomberg news article quoted Russell Renwicks, with the IRS’ Tax-Exempt and Government Entities division, saying the IRS has suspended tax audits of churches. Other sources claim the IRS hasn’t been auditing churches since 2009.

As many as 1,500 clergy reportedly violated the electioneering restrictions on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, notes FFRF’s legal complaint. The complaint also references “blatantly political” full-page ads running in the three Sundays leading up to the presidential elections by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

FFRF is asking the the federal court to enjoin IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman from continuing “a policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations.”

11 Comments on "IRS Sued For Not Enforcing Ban On Political Endorsements By Churches"

  1. Calypso_1 | Nov 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

    FFRF will be getting a Krampus card this year with a check.

  2. David Howe | Nov 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |

    thank god

  3. Regarding “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” I’d say the next step is to talk to the FBI.

    That was an open conspiracy to violate tax laws. And as we remember from the coverage of the prosecutions of the Yippies way back when, a conspiracy to commit misdemeanors is a felony.* This conspiracy spans several states, so bring in the FBI.

    * Not that these are misdemeanors.

  4. Liam_McGonagle | Nov 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

    Well, if the churches really want to go back to the Middle Ages, maybe we should enact legislation giving the state’s chief executive a veto over the nomination of any bishops or senior clergy. That was the standard arrangement throughout western europe before the 19th century.

    • "Big" Richard Johnson | Nov 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

      There should also be a department for the ridding of… “turbulent priests”

    • Calypso_1 | Nov 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm |

      They should indeed consider that Separation is as much or more for the freedom of the church within its own boundaries. Bring down that barrier and it is fair game for the government to regulate the practices within the walls of the church.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Nov 19, 2012 at 10:23 am |

        Exactly. But you know how arrogance and stupidity go together. Religion (can) breed certainty. Certainty begets arrogance and arrogance breeds stupidity.

  5. In Minnesota, churches bought up large quantities of prime lakeshore land, and covered them with campsites for their members.This takes valuable tax revenue away from the town and county. Tax exemption should only be on the property that the actual church is on and the church leaders house.

  6. I am an agnostic, was raided southern baptists, but renounced all that nonsense. Having said that the government is forcing people to break religious principals and laws pre dating western civilization. They are standing up for what they believe in and is in all reality under attack.

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