Skip to comments.Madison group sues IRS over political activity by churches
Posted on 11/15/2012 11:10:35 AM PST by Ellendra
MADISON, Wis. - The Madison-based Freedom from Religion Foundation argues in a federal lawsuit that the Internal Revenue Service is violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing tax-exempt churches and religious organizations to get involved in political campaigns.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Madison cites full-page ads run this fall in the New York Times and other newspapers by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and a letter that Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky required to be read in churches the weekend before the presidential election.
The lawsuit argues that not enforcing the law prohibiting tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering results in preferential treatment not provided to other tax-exempt organizations like the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
A spokesman for the IRS did not immediately return messages.
Issues are 100% acceptable. Promoting candidates is not.
Religious organisation have gathered up there lawyers and have pushed against the myth that the IRS has any authority to regulate speech from the pulpit. Recently the IRS has stated and agreed with the lawyers representing religious organizations that the IRS has no legal authority to silence political speech from the pulpit. This case has no leg and is going nowhere!
I never understood why churches accepted this whole “non-profit” status thing. They gave the government a hold on them by accepting that. They should have never had to register with government at all.
I think unregistered churches and house churches are the wave of the future.
Churches should have free speech too.
Churches that back 0bama and middle-eastern-death-cult indoctrination centers are exempt.
Isn't there a law that requires political action committees to identify themselves?
This is exactly what these churches want. They want to IRS to crack down on them, so they can take it to court and hand the Johnson amendment thrown out.
Churches have been tax-exempt since 1791 (the year the Constitution was ratified). That was 122 years before the income tax came into existence (1913).
Churches are NOT tax-exempt because they are non-profits.
Churches ARE tax-exempt because they are religious institutions. And, that is the end of the story.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It has always been understood that, since taxation has the power to destroy, that allowing the government to tax a church would inhibit the church’s ability to practice its religion.
The power to tax is the power to destroy. Most small churches would quickly disappear if they were taxed.
No candidate was mentioned, for or against. No political party was mentioned, for or against. That means: there was no electioneering.
Churches and clergy are ALWAYS permitted ("permitted"!) to talk about issues.
“Issues are 100% acceptable. Promoting candidates is not.”
That’s your position, but what if someone else feels differently? Should your personal opinion hold sway over someone else’s religious freedom?
We get upset at black churches promoting candidates from the pulpit, but the fact is throughout most of American history, that was the norm, not the exception.
Then again, if they had nothing taxable (unregistered churches) they’d have no worries.
“Churches and clergy are ALWAYS permitted (”permitted”!) to talk about issues.”
Permitted? By who?
Better idea - do away with the immoral income tax - which is the only reason for any deductions. Let governments be funded by sales taxes, tariffs and fees (No VAT tax!!!).
Give every person a rebate payment equal to $X (Average cost of living) x Y% (Sales tax rate).
Reduce the government revenue stream, get out of the distribution business - THEN let us fund the charities we please, or help the individuals we choose - WITHOUT ANY IMPACT ON OUR TAX LIABILITY.
Pretty simple, but impossible for government types to do.
The case will be dismissed on the basis on standing. Since FFR has not been denied its tax exempt status it has no controversy or claim at issue.
If this includes Black churches then I’m on board. If it is white churches only stuff it.
Most churches have land, some of it in prime locations.
Small churches can rent a store front, lots of that available in Obamaconomy. Small churches don’t need to do what a big church might do.
Wait! Before I read the article, they’re talkin ‘bout the black churches, right?
since the belief in man-made gorebul warming is a religion, and liberlism in general is a religion, lets ban them from churches too.
well gee thanks, its nice of you to determine what they need
and gee a storefront. just the type of church environment so many people are looking for
do we need a govt permission slip too?
You don't need "permission," to exercise your God-given right to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. The Constitution can acknowledge these rights, the Constitution can protect them; but the Constitution can neither "permit" nor refuse to "permit" them.
That amendment (the first) begins with the five most beautiful words in the Engligh language: "Congress shall make no law..."
Note to Madison:
Before you walk too far down this path, you might aquaint yourself with the kinds of political activity that occurs in BLACK churches.
They have been holding fundraisers & campaign appearances for a long time.
You ne3ed to see this evidence before you go after white churches.
Thats your position, but what if someone else feels differently? Should your personal opinion hold sway over someone elses religious freedom?
That’s the law. Ironically I was sitting with several IRS agents when I typed that. I’m a CPA and I deal with a lot of churches and non-profits.
The tiresome Freedom From Religion folks are at it again — suing churches.
FReep Mail me if you want on, or off, this Wisconsin interest ping list.
Will they be going after mosques as well as churches?
Somehow I doubt it.
Sounds like the WhiteHouse is becoming a little more sophisticated......using its community branches now to further it’s political ends.
The question at hand isn’t “is that the law?”
The question being discussed is “is that law constitutional?”
Ask your IRS friends about “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” Churches for several years have been blatantly breaking the IRS rule (over 1,500 participated this year). They’ve been reporting themselves to the IRS; sending tapes to the IRS; literally daring (begging) the IRS to take action. Ask your IRS friends why they haven’t acted against any of these churches—not one?
The reason is simple: these churches are prepared (as a group) to challenge the Johnson amendment in court, and fight all the way to the supreme court if they have to. The IRS knows if that happens the Johnson amendment would get thrown out (at least as it applies to churches).
The Johnson amendment may be the law, but it’s an unconstitutional law. Eventually (if the IRS takes action against a church that has the resources to fight) it will get overturned.
I would agree with you. Churches do not fall under the general charitable organizations laws as they are protected by the constitution.
The mere fact that the government thinks that it has authority to regulate the churches in itself would give the churches the authority to exercise their assertions over the government. Furthermore, the constitution restricts government only, not the churches!
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
As a CPA I am also aware of the IRS actions to restrict and define who or what is a church. This was my tax law specialty for about 30 years prior to retiring.
One could also interpret that the laws the judges and judicial system are trying to utilize to exercise their authority over churches is also illegal.