IRS Faces Lawsuit for Failing to Enforce Church Politicking Ban

Church and State
Photo by Ian Sane

An application by the IRS to have a law suit against it lifted has been dismissed. U.S District court Judge Lynn Adelman overruled the application before him on August 19, 2013. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had filed a law suit against the IRS claiming that the IRS was failing to audit thousands of churches that were engaging in political advocacy. Tax-exempt organizations, such as churches are prohibited from participating in political campaigns under the 501(c)(3) federal tax code.

The judge refused to grant the IRS their request for dismissing the lawsuit and also warned the body that it had a duty to fulfill its mandate without any form of bias.

According to the FFRF, the IRS has not penalized many churches involved in politics and in so doing, they are encouraging the vice. According to FFRF, all organizations are to be regulated equally. Yet many churches have their pastors preaching active politics from the pulpit while maintaining their tax-exempt status.

The FFRF suit claims that IRS is giving preferential treatment to tax-exempt religious organizations over non-religious ones. FFRF's co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement that “The time for a free ride for churches is over.”

As a way to challenge the rules on church involvement in politics, an event called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" is held every year where pastors are encouraged to preach politics at their churches.

The senior legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization with the goal of getting churches more involved in politics, told The Christian Post that by taxing churches we “destroy the free exercise of religion.” He added that the FFRF must lose its lawsuit.

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