More than a dozen members of Congress are warning the IRS that the tax-exempt status of churches is jeopardized by a recent ruling against a Texas faith-based organization.
The IRS, in a May ruling, denied a request by the organization Christians Engaged for 501(c)(3) non-profit status, saying the group works “for the private interests” of the Republican Party by promoting issues such as the sanctity of life and the traditional definition of marriage.
The organization says its purpose is to encourage Christians to pray, vote and engage the culture.
“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 the determination,” the letter, signed by three senators and 12 representatives, says. It was addressed to the IRS commissioner.
The IRS told Christians Engaged: “You educate Christians on what the Bible says on 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.”
Further, the IRS said, “The bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption.”
Among the members of Congress who signed the letter were GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (Florida), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Michael S. Lee (Utah), and Rep. Chip Roy (Texas).
“These issues have always been at the core of Christian belief and classifying them as inherently political is patently absurd,” the letter from members of Congress says. “If the IRS applied this interpretation broadly, it would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of thousands of Christian churches across the country.
Millions of Americans, the letter says, “draw deeply from their religious beliefs to inform how they vote and many religious organizations conduct get out the vote efforts.”
“In fact, President Biden himself campaigned alongside church leaders during the 2020 presidential race,” the letter says.
The IRS, the letter says, must “objectively analyze applications for tax-exempt status and cannot allow political biases to creep into its decisions.”
“We urge you to immediately review Christians Engaged’s application for 501(c)(3) status personally, and terminate the IRS staff involved in the flawed and politically motivated reasoning behind the determination,” the letter concludes.
Photo courtesy: ©Sparrow Stock
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.