July 27, 2014
The Internal Revenue Service settled a lawsuit brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The 2012 lawsuit was settled after the IRS agreed to monitor what is said in houses of worship, something that is a clear violation of the First Amendment, since no law can be written by Congress to this effect. Therefore, the "unconstitutional" IRS has gone way beyond what the federal Constitution allows.
According to FFRF, the IRS has not followed a 2009 ruling requiring it to hire someone to keep an eye on church politicking. The IRS says it hasn't ignored the ruling, but merely failed to follow it.
The government has put a moratorium on the IRS' investigations of tax-exempt organizations after the scandal that broke in 2013 over its targeting of pro-life, pro-family, and Tea Party groups. FFRF says that even though the IRS will not enforce the agreement because of the moratorium, they can still bring the lawsuit again if needed after the moratorium is lifted.
"This is a victory, and we're pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place a protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor in a press release.
"Of course, we have the complication of a moratorium currently in place on any IRS investigations of any tax-exempt entities, church or otherwise, due to the congressional probe of the IRS," she added. "FFRF could refile the suit if anti-electioneering provisions are not enforced in the future against rogue political churches."
The press release went on to state:
The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations. While the IRS retains "prosecutorial" discretion with regard to any individual case, the IRS no longer has a blanket policy or practice of non-enforcement of political activity restrictions as to churches.
In addition to FFRF's lawsuit, IRS enforcement procedures with respect to political activity by tax-exempt organizations have been the subject of intense scrutiny by Congress. As a result, the IRS is reviewing and implementing safeguards to ensure evenhanded enforcement across the board with respect to all tax-exempt organizations.
Until that process is completed, the IRS has suspended all examinations of tax-exempt organizations for alleged political activities. The current suspension, however, is not limited to church tax inquiries.
If you recall there was an outcry for "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" back in 2012, as the left didn't mind being political in Black Churches to advance its agenda, but God forbid that Churches that are truly biblical in their worldview speak out against the evils of political parties and issues of the day, something that would have been foreign to our forefathers.
According to FFRF, "Pulpit Freedom Sunday ... has become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity. The IRS, meanwhile, admittedly was not enforcing the restrictions against churches."