A decade ago, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under President Barack Obama targeted tea party organizations for extra scrutiny and even denial of tax-exempt status. Democrats and the IRS seem determined to be even more brazen under Joe Biden.
As PJ Media’s Mark Tapscott reported last week, the IRS denied a 501(c)(3) tax exemption to the Texas-based group Christians Engaged because its Bible-based Christian teachings “are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.”
This denial is absurd on many levels. First Liberty Institute appealed the rejection, highlighting three key errors: there is no requirement that tax-exempt organizations be neutral on public policy issues; Christians Engaged does not serve private, nonexempt purposes just because of its Christian worldview; and the rejection violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech, Free Exercise, and Establishment clauses through viewpoint discrimination and religious discrimination.
It seems the IRS has yet to respond to First Liberty’s substantive complaints.
Meanwhile, a sitting Democratic politician threatened to target the Roman Catholic Church’s tax-exempt status if the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) drafts rules on Communion that he doesn’t like.
Specifically, USCCB passed a resolution to draft a rule suggesting whether or not priests should serve Communion to politicians who advocate for moral evils that explicitly contradict Catholic teaching. The measure will not be binding under Canon Law, but it will likely send an important message to faithful Catholics.
The measure is controversial because Biden, who advocates for the killing of unborn babies, the erosion of religious freedom, and the redefinition of marriage and sexuality, nonetheless identifies as Catholic and attends mass.
Biden doesn’t just support liberal policies — he has embraced radical positions that involve outright hostility not just to Catholic teaching but to the Catholic Church itself. Biden has fought to resurrect an Obama-era HHS rule that would force Roman Catholic doctors to perform transgender surgery, in violation of both Catholic teaching on sexuality and the Hippocratic oath. He vigorously supports the Equality Act, which explicitly guts the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Biden has also excluded the Hyde Amendment from his federal budget proposal, fighting to force pro-life taxpayers to unwittingly fund abortion.
The Catholic Church has every right to defend its own doctrines against Biden, and the USCCB document may send that very message. If it does, at least one Democrat in Congress has suggested that its tax-exempt status may be revoked.
“If they’re going to politically weaponize religion by ‘rebuking’ Democrats who support women’s reproductive choice, then a ‘rebuke’ of their tax-exempt status may be in order,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) threatened.
“Unfortunately, the IRS seems to agree with Representative Huffman, as it demonstrated recently by denying a religious organization’s tax exemption because, as its letter stated, ‘[B]ible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party.’ But the tax code must not become a weapon for Washington elites to punish churches who hold religious beliefs they dislike,” First Liberty Counsel Lea Patterson told PJ Media on Thursday.
Democrats have already supported a similar weaponization of the tax code. In a congressional hearing in 2019, Democrats cited the far-Left scandal-plagued Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in demanding that the IRS remove tax-exempt status from “hate groups.” The SPLC routinely brands mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups” due to their opposition to the Left’s narrative and activism on LGBT issues, Islam, and immigration.
In the wake of a scandal involving claims of racial discrimination and sexual harassment that saw the SPLC fire its co-founder and lose its president and legal director, a former SPLC employee outed the “hate-group list” as a “masterstroke of [the founder]’s marketing talents.” This seemed to confirm claims that the hate group list is a cynical fundraising scheme, rather than a legitimate report.
The “hate group” accusation also gives the SPLC a way to destroy its political enemies. Former SPLC spokesman Mark Potok also revealed an animus against the organizations on the list. He said the SPLC’s “aim in life” is to “destroy these groups.” In 2012, a deranged man targeted the Christian non-profit organization the Family Research Council (FRC), aiming to kill everyone in the building and smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich into his victims’ faces. He told the FBI he targeted FRC due to the SPLC’s “hate group” accusation. The SPLC has not dropped that accusation.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) led the fight against tax-exempt status for “hate groups,” and she recently led her fellow Democrats to publicly praise the SPLC’s recent “hate group” report.
From the IRS to Jared Huffman to Judy Chu, the Left is gunning for the tax-exempt status of churches and Christian organizations that refuse to toe the Left’s line on abortion and LGBT issues. Americans who value religious freedom cannot stand for this.