The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has fallen right back into their old bad habits under a new Administration. In the latest example, the IRS refused tax-exempt status to a religious organization – Christians Engaged. The reasons that the IRS listed in their rejection letter for this decision are examples of blatant targeting of conservatives once again. We’ve seen this before and it looks like we will continue to see this kind of behavior. So, at the ACLJ, we’re going to take action.
How can the IRS revert to their previous bad behavior after consenting to our injunction in federal court four years ago, prohibiting them from ever targeting anyone for their beliefs again? ACLJ Director of Policy Harry Hutchison gave his take on the IRS:
It appears to me that the IRS – pursuant to the Biden-Obama-Harris Administration – is up to its old tricks. It is trying to reinstitute failed policies that were essentially, A) unconstitutional and B) in violation of the IRS’ own consent decree. Essentially, the IRS is saying the Bible is a political document. Essentially, the IRS is saying that it can capriciously void the constitutional rights of American citizens. The IRS is saying that it can capriciously void its own consent decree. I think at the end of the day we should conclude that the IRS is up to its old tricks despite the fact they reversed itself in this particular case.
At the top of the letter, the Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations unit included a key that explains the list of terms the IRS chose to symbolize like “D = Republican,” “M = Word of God,” and many others. Why would a federal government agency be able to create their own legend for their OWN terminology? Who authorized this? For example, the letter said:
Your founder and President is a motivational public speaker, former [Republican] Congressional Candidate, political consultant and Preacher of the Gospel. Your Vice President is a motivational public speaker, former President of [The Texas Eagle Forum], intercessor, former Prayer Coordinator for [Promise Keepers] and a homeschool mom. Your Secretary you describe as a conservative millennial thought leader with a marketing and political consulting background. He now serves as the Executive Director for the [Collin County Victory Efforts], where he manages the [Collin County Republican] Party’s field teams in [Collin County] as well as the grassroots get-out-the-vote efforts for [Collin County].
What in the world does being a “Preacher of the Gospel,” “intercessor,” or “homeschool mom” have to do with whether your group gets tax-exempt status?
The letter continues:
You educate believers on national issues that are central to their belief in the Bible as the inerrant [Word of God]. You educate Christians in areas where they can be instrumental as in the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, laws vs. lawlessness, freedom of speech, religious liberty, government and business ethics, human trafficking, fiscal responsibility in government budgeting, defense, 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 IRC Section 501 (c)(3).
ACLJ Director of Government Affairs Thann Bennett gave his insight into how this new legend is similar to the “be on the lookout” list in the case that we already fought and won when the IRS previously targeted conservative organizations:
We’ve seen this playbook before back when it was the Tea Party case that we litigated on behalf of more than 40 groups, they were looking for words like “liberty” and “tea party.” This new legend . . . this is the new be on the lookout list. They have just changed the words that they were looking for. Now they are looking for words like Republican and Word of God. They have added a secret code. Except it is not so secret – they put it right at the top of the letter and we can decipher it. It is the same playbook.
How many other groups have been victims to the targeting of the IRS?
Thankfully, this time the IRS got caught and reversed their decision. But they still did it. We’ve seen how this plays out. When we took on a four-year legal battle on behalf of 41 conservative organizations that were targeted by the IRS, it started with one group too. If the IRS does it once, they will do it again. We are prepared for this and are working on a FOIA request to find out who came up with this legend and what other groups have been targeted? We are not going to let them get away with this.
Today’s full Sekulow broadcast is complete with further analysis of Biden’s IRS targeting of Christian organizations
Watch the full broadcast below.
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