Published On: Tue, Aug 5th, 2014

IRS set to ‘monitor churches for politicking’ after Freedom from Religion lawsuit

The Internal Revenue Service is poised to start to “monitor churches for politicking” in response lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF).

photo Charles Fettinger via Flickr

photo Charles Fettinger via Flickr

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told TheBlaze Monday that his organization was assured by the IRS that the agency isn’t offering a special allowance to churches.

“[They assured] our attorney Rich Bolton who’s dealing with them,” Barker explained. “It was conference calls — basically assured … that they now have someone in place who will resume their normal practice.”

The settlement is being held up by Father Patrick Malone and Holy Cross Anglican Church, which filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss without prejudice. If FFRF dismisses the lawsuit without prejudice, the atheist organization can renew the lawsuit if the group deems the IRS is not targeting churches.

“Churches are tax-exempt inherently from the moment of creation,” says Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Churches do not need a letter from the IRS to be tax-exempt.

“No church has ever lost its tax-exempt status for opposing or supporting a candidate for political office. Churches and pastors may speak on biblical and moral issues. Pastors can educate about the candidates’ viewpoints. Pastors can encourage people to vote and can assist them in getting to the polls,” Staver points out.

“Pastors and churches must be empowered to confront the assaults on our culture, our faith, and our freedom,” continues Staver. “German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann coined the expression ‘spiral of silence.’ Noelle-Neumann began her career working for a newspaper during Hitler’s years, where she found that people conceal their views when they think they are in the minority or may face reprisal for their beliefs. We saw how the spiral of silence had devastating results in Nazi Germany. We need to stop the spiral of silence in America,” Staver said. “As pastors and churches begin to stand up and speak out against evil and injustice, the spiral will unravel and justice will prevail.”

“Our victory ensures that churches are not being singled out for preferential treatment as they were — with the IRS turning a blind eye to such events as the annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor added in a statement addressing the matter.

As of June 23, 2014, records showed that 15 churches allegedly violated tax law in 2010, 18 did so in 2011, 65 did in 2012 and only one was seen as possibly violating the law 2013, though it is unclear how, if at all, these churches are being further investigated or punished.

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  1. Sol Saguaro says:

    Staver’s wrong. Churches have had their tax-exempt status investigated and revoked for engaging in partisan electoral politics, which is prohibited to all tax-exempt entities. There’s nothing in the Constitution about churches not paying their fair share of taxes. The tax exemptions they enjoy are a result of civil tolerance and Constitutional respect for the practice of “religion” per se, quite different from operating a “church,” a business organization with its own agenda — like keeping its preachers prosperous, politically well-connected, and powerful in the secular world. In that case, the atheists — but not just the atheists, most legal scholars too — are correct that churches that wander into the secular world, beyond religious practice, are inherently secular and must pay their fair share of taxes to society.

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