The Internal Revenue Service, in May, denied a Christian nonprofit organization tax-exempt status by arguing its mission of educating and empowering Christians to engage in America’s civic process necessarily benefits the Republican Party.
In the May rejection letter sent to Christians Engaged, the IRS wrote that the group is disqualified from the status because the “Bible’s teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party and candidates.”
“Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations,” IRS exempt organizations director Stephen Martin wrote in the letter. “The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3).”
The denial letter from the IRS doesn’t seem to be disputing the groups claim and doesn’t appear to dispute the group’s claim or say it does not operate honestly. However, according to the Treasury agency, the very fact that the group promotes biblical teachings makes it de facto engage in “prohibited political campaign intervention.”
“You operate for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the Republican Party,” Martin concluded.
The group’s legal counsel, First Liberty Institute, filed an appeal last week and in a press release from Counsel Lea Patterson, said the claims “that Biblical values are exclusively Republican, might be news to President Biden, who is often described as basing his political ideology on his religious beliefs.
Patterson added: “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. The IRS violated its own regulations in denying tax exempt status because Christians Engaged teaches biblical values.”
In its appeal letter, First Liberty argued, “By finding that Christians Engaged does not meet the operational test, Director Martin errs in three ways: 1) he invents a nonexistent requirement that exempt organizations be neutral on public policy issues; 2) he incorrectly concludes that Christians Engaged primarily serves private, nonexempt purposes rather than public, exempt purposes because he thinks its beliefs overlap with the Republican Party’s policy positions; and 3) he violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech, and Free Exercise, and Establishment clauses by engaging in both viewpoint discrimination and religious discrimination.”
The group was formed in July 2019 as a Texas nonprofit organization and Christians Engaged president Bunni Pounds declared, “We just want to encourage more people to vote and participate in the political process. How can anyone be against that?”
As a major part of its efforts, Christians Engaged helps organize statewide and local prayer gatherings in which participants make supplications and petitions to God on behalf of elected leaders.
Under federal law, to receive tax-exempt status as a religious organization, an organization must operate exclusively for charitable or educational purposes and must “not attempt to influence legislation” or “participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”
This article was originally published by our friends at TheBlaze.com.