A group of GOP lawmakers warned that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could start taxing churches following a ruling in which they rejected the tax-exempt application for a Christian non-profit group.
The group was rejected in part because their teachings of the Bible and educational efforts are “typically affiliated” with the Republican Party.
The members of Congress accused the IRS of blatant political bias in their decision to deny an application for tax-exempt status from Christians Engaged.
In their rejection letter, the IRS accuses Christians Engaged of campaign intervention – a no-no for non-profit organizations of their type – stating that the group spends a “substantial amount of time and resources devoted to activities that are typical of an action organization.”
What stood out to most critics, however, was the organization’s Bible teachings which are described by the IRS as “typically affiliated with the Republican party and its candidates.”
The IRS denied a religious group tax-exempt status with the excuse that certain Christian principals promote and endorse Republicans. https://t.co/toZ5NpVBbt
— MediaResearchCenter (@theMRC) June 23, 2021
Will The IRS Start To Tax Churches?
In a letter from Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and signed by 14 other members of Congress, the IRS is called out for their rejection of Christians Engaged.
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The letter begins by demanding the termination of whoever made the “blatantly biased, discriminatory, and flawed reasoning that led to the determination.”
The GOP lawmakers reference the IRS premise that the “Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates,'” specifically noting such topics, as the IRS did themselves, “the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, and biblical justice.”
“These issues have always been at the core of Christian belief and classifying them as inherently political is patently absurd,” they write.
NEW: Rep. Chip Roy statement to @DailyCaller on Democrats trying to strip the Catholic Church of tax-exempt status and the IRS’s denial of tax exempt status for Christians Engaged: pic.twitter.com/MQ537qohAd
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) June 24, 2021
Weaponizing The IRS
The letter, also signed by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), goes on to warn that the IRS decision against Christians Engaged could open the door to further action against churches whose biblical teaching are interpreted to be ‘Republican activity.’
“If the IRS applied this interpretation broadly, it would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of thousands of Christian churches across the country,” they write.
— First Liberty Institute (@1stLiberty) June 28, 2021
First Liberty, a legal organization dedicated to defending religious liberty, has vowed to fight the IRS on its decision, saying they violated the First Amendment in its decision to deny tax-exempt status to Christians Engaged.
President and CEO of First Liberty, Kelly Shackelford, reportedly “fears the IRS could use the same tactics to shut down other religious non-profits.”
First Liberty has filed an appeal on behalf of Christians Engaged, with Counsel Lea Patterson arguing that “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.”
Today, Rep. Roy, along with several members of the House and Senate, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig regarding the IRS’s recent flawed and discriminatory denial of the tax-exempt status of Christians Engaged.
— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) June 25, 2021
To be clear, the IRS rejection letter argues that Christians Engaged is “engaged in prohibited political campaign invention” and is “not operated exclusively for religious and educational purposes.”
Federal law specifically states that religious organizations seeking tax-exempt status “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”
But hearing them put words down suggesting the Bible effectively leans right, according to the GOP letter, could open up a Pandora’s box to taxing churches in the future.
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