Some Republican lawmakers are stepping forward to warn that the IRS may tax churches following a ruling in which the IRS denied tax-exempt status to a Christian non-profit. The reason? Apparently, Christian values promote “Republicans.”
Christians Engaged is a Texas nonprofit that seeks to “educate and empower everyday Christians to pray for our nation and elected officials, vote, and be civically engaged,” according to the group’s website. But in May, the organization, which claims no political affiliation, learned that the IRS rejected its application for tax-exempt status because Christians Engaged educates “believers on national issues that are central to their belief in the Bible as the inerrant [Word of God],” including “the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and [sic] borders and immigration, [and] U.S. and Israel relations.”
The group of lawmakers penned a letter to the IRS commissioner that rejects the IRS’ claim that “Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.”
“These issues have always been at the core of Christian belief and classifying them as inherently political is patently absurd,” they write, specifically taking issue with “the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, and biblical justice.”
“If the IRS applied this interpretation broadly, it would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of thousands of Christian churches across the country,” says the letter, which is signed by Ted Crus, Marco Rubio, and others.
First Liberty, which is representing Christians Engaged in the upcoming legal battle over tax-exemption, says on its website that the IRS “violated its own regulations” to deny a group of Christians this status:
In an IRS letter that you really have to read to believe, the agency violated its own regulations in denying tax exempt status because a nonprofit organization, Christians Engaged, teaches biblical values. It also illegally discriminated against the organization’s religious viewpoint by claiming that biblical teachings are necessarily Republican.
Christians Engaged simply encourages citizens to pray for our nation and elected officials regularly, vote in every election to impact our culture, and engage in some form of political activity for the furtherance of the nation. It is nonpartisan and holds a weekly Bible study, sends weekly prayer alerts, and organizes statewide and area prayer gatherings to pray for local, state, and national government officials.
It encourages those who are unfamiliar with the political process by “educat[ing] believers on the national issues that are central to our belief in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God,” and provides training, resources, and mentorships that help them navigate the political process in order to “promote [their] values or get involved with [their] passion.”
But that’s too much for the politicized IRS. In a detailed letter, the IRS claimed that such actions prevent Christians Engaged from identifying as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.
“We just want to encourage more people to vote and participate in the political process,” says Christians Engaged President Bunni Pounds. “How can anyone be against that?”
The IRS, which is traditionally unfair to conservatives, is certainly against it. This is a true David vs. Goliath situation. Will David win?