Several Republican members of Congress accused the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last week of blatant political bias by denying tax-exempt status to a Christian nonprofit, and warned the decision could set a precedent for taxing churches.
In May, the IRS denied a request for tax-exempt status from the Texas-based group Christians Engaged, stating that the “Bible’s teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party and candidates.”
The letter of rebuke, sent by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and signed by 14 other members of Congress including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), urged IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig to personally review the case and terminate those who were involved in the decision.
“We write today to express extreme concern regarding a recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determination on the tax-exempt status of Christians Engaged, a nonprofit organization in Texas. We urge you to personally review this determination, and remove the individual, or individuals, responsible for the blatantly biased, discriminatory, and flawed reasoning that led to that determination,” the letter began.
The letter went on to single out IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Stephen Martin, who sent a letter claiming Christians Engaged was ineligible for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) because it is “engaged in prohibited political campaign intervention.”
“Specifically, Mr. Martin alleges that Christians Engaged’s ‘…bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates,'” the letter continued. “Among the issues that the IRS determined to be ‘associated with political party platforms’ were ‘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.”
“If the IRS applied this interpretation broadly, it would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of thousands of Christian churches across the country,” the members of Congress warned.
Last week, four Republican members of Congress denounced Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) to The Daily Wire after he suggested the Catholic Church should be punitively stripped of its tax-exempt status after the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted to draft a document that could rebuke pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
“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,” Huffman tweeted, as The Daily Wire reported.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who was a signatory to Roy’s letter, told The Daily Wire regarding Huffman’s comments: “It is unconscionable that House Democrats are attempting to scare churches into silence simply because they are angry over their pro-life religious views. Religious organizations should have an absolute right to express their First Amendment rights without fear of persecution from the IRS or federal government. Rep. Huffman’s threat to remove the USCCB’s tax-exempt status must be refuted. Religious institutions deserve our respect, and they deserve the freedom to express their beliefs.”