Friday, June 21, 2013

IRS: We Are "Close" to Auditing Churches Again

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
While the IRS has been distracted from local churches while targeting Tea Party and other faith based groups, Treasury Attorney-Advisor Ruth Madrigal says the IRS is "close" to auditing churches again.

What does that mean to local churches?

Here are more details and a closer look at how we got to where we are with the IRS.

Erik Stanley, with Alliance Defending Freedom, says a 2009 federal court decision found the IRS' regulations on church audits to be unlawful.

Since that ruling, apparently, the IRS has suspended church audits while focusing their attention on Tea Party and faith based Christian organizations.

However, since the 2009 ruling, the IRS has been preparing new regulations that will enable them to begin auditing churches again.

Madrigal says they are "close" to being ready.

So what does this mean?

Just a couple of weeks ago, Sunday, June 9, more than 1,000 pastors across the nation participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. They preached a sermon from their pulpits on cultural issues that could be seen as conflicting with the "Johnson Amendment" to the IRS section 501(c)3 tax code.

Will the IRS now take on these churches with their revised regulations? We'll see.

Ultimately, constitutional rights of pastors and church leaders do not turn on whether the IRS audits or penalizes churches, however, the audits and penalties put an undue burden on the church and individual.

Pastors and Christian leaders must speak the Truth to a culture that is desperately in decline and needs to hear what God says about marriage, family, the sanctity of life and morality. A clear and morally correct voice is essential to the sustainability of our culture and our nation.

At the heart of "church auditing," "Tea Party" targeting and "pulpit" bullying is what is known as "The Johnson Amendment."

And at the heart of The Johnson Amendment is political corruption.

Lyndon B. Johnson is probably best remembered by the tragedy surrounding the Vietnam War and his "Great Society," a program that led America far down the path of socialism and dependence. In many ways we are still paying the price for Johnson's social policies.

However, his own manipulation of the law for personal, political gain may be having the greatest negative and lasting impact on our country.

His "amendment" has, among other things, silenced too many pastors and Christian leaders from speaking to the destructive moral issues of our times. It has taken away the public participation of pastors and Christian leaders in electing leaders that would uphold, not destroy this nation's Judeo-Christian heritage.

Recently we have learned from Gallup that 72% of Americans believe America is in moral decline and 75% believe if more people were religious that decline would be reversed.

Here's how we got to where we are.

In 1948, Lyndon Johnson stole the senate election in Texas from Coke Stevenson, an immensely popular former governor by only 87 votes. Following that incident, Johnson was jokingly called "Landslide Lyndon."

He hated the name.

Six years later he was opposed by a much more formidable candidate. H.L. Hunt, the wealthy oilman, and newspaper publisher Frank Gannet both opposed Johnson---and both started separate non-profit organizations-- "Facts Forum" and the "Committee for Constitutional Government." Both opposed Johnson and were able to do so under IRS rules at that time.

Senator Johnson, fearing defeat, teamed up with Massachusetts Congressman John W. McCormack, who would later become Speaker of the House, to change the law and protect Johnson.

They were able to revise the statute and change that section of the tax code. The revised statute barred charitable groups from endorsing or opposing a candidate.

For the first 178 years of American independence, rabbis, priests and preachers could stand in their pulpits and address both issues and candidates without government interference, just like other Americans whose First Amendment rights remained intact.

The tax code that Johnson revised to advance his own career remains in effect today. And it may be the most harmful thing he did as a politician.

It has had the effect of silencing the pulpit---a voice that inspired America to proceed into the Revolutionary War and found a country on biblical truth, principle and values.

Prior to The Johnson Amendment, pastors and Christian leaders addressed the moral issues of their day and advocated candidates that would stand for those founding principles and opposed those who would not.

Only since 1954 has the moral voice of America been silenced.

And look at the results.

Moral chaos.

America is loosing her way.

And we have an out-of-control IRS advancing a secular progressive agenda by turning its head from the progressive non-profits like "Move," Obama's own "Organizing for Action" and other far left groups while targeting the conservative Tea Party groups and various other faith based groups like Franklin and Billy Graham and a number of other clear voices for faith and freedom.

Republican Congressmen are promising to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal.

At the bottom is The Johnson Amendment. While they must see that those IRS employees who are guilty of wrong doing be appropriately punished, the problem is deeper than the actions of employees---regardless of their position.

The problem is that the fundamental freedom of speech is being violated by the IRS statute and the Johnson Amendment must be repealed.

Does the GOP have the resolve to do so? That would solve the problem going forward.

I would encourage you to send a letter or email to your Congressional Representative and ask them to repeal the Johnson Amendment.

If they respond, please forward their response to me. It would be helpful.

Be Pro-Active. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.


  1. "Prior to The Johnson Amendment, pastors and Christian leaders addressed the moral issues of their day and advocated candidates ..."

    And they are free to do that today, just not at taxpayer expense anymore. The only thing silencing them is their desire to keep collecting the indirect contributions they take from everyone by not paying taxes.

  2. The don't 'collect' anything.

    Non-profits exist to contribute to society, and 'don't make a profit' like normal companies. Whether they have a religious or secular (or mix) contribution to society is irrelevant.

    Whether you, as a taxpayer, like a non-profit is irrelevant. The non-profit *costs you nothing*. It doesn't cost you a dime to let that non-profit keep running!

    Now, to say "but look at the revenue I COULD be getting if I taxed it" is to fall for the very lies currently getting our government in a mess. There is a reason our government can "make no law regarding an establishment of religion" or diminish the free exercise of religion.

    If people can only have 'secular' non-profits, or face taxation (if all other non-profits are not taxed), the government has made a law regarding religion and diminished the free exercise of faith in the public sphere.

    Now, for further examples of this in America, you can read Church of the Holy Trinity vs. the United States (supreme court case from the late 19th century) which discusses that not only can the government not make laws infringing on faith, but there is no obligation of the church or people of faith to keep their activities 'separate' from the public sphere.

    There is a large difference between someone acting out their faith (which includes voting for moral laws, teaching others about morality, etc) (acting on freedom of religion) and a church *mandating* that others follow its rules (establishment of religion). One is acceptable, the other is not.

  3. But what about the non-profit, non-taxpaying groups that support issues or candidates vocally and don't have their tax free status taken from them? Why is the standard not the same for all? Express an opinion or support a candidate and you are no-longer tax exempt seems to be the government position on churches, so why not for all organizations?


Faith & Freedom welcomes your comment posts. Remember, keep it short, keep it on message and relevant, and identify your town.