The far right makes no secret of its hatred for the Internal Revenue Service, but recent comments by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen should earn the agency a few brownie points with fundamentalists who fear that Christian colleges will be forced to extend benefits to married same-sex couples or risk their tax exemptions.
The Internal Revenue Service should make it clear that houses of worship and other tax-exempt, non-profit groups have no right to engage in partisan politicking, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the tax agency today.
In a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn urged the agency to act now, since the 2016 presidential campaign is getting under way.
A document has come to light giving some indication that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may be preparing to enforce the “no-politicking” rule against houses of worship.
A letter from the IRS was made public by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which announced recently that it has withdrawn a lawsuit over the IRS’s failure to investigate churches accused of partisan politicking. The group made that decision after the tax agency convinced the organization that it has resolved a procedural issue that prevented church audits.
Have you heard the latest? The Internal Revenue Service has entered into a secret deal with an atheist group to monitor pastors all over America and squelch their political speech!
That’s the latest paranoid fantasy from the Religious Right. The truth, as is often the case, is much more mundane.
Before we get to the meat of things, some background: A lot of us in the separation of church and state community have been frustrated over the blatant partisan political activity that some churches (on the right and the left) engage in.
A federal court has denied a legal challenge by American Atheists (AA), in which the organization sought to end many of the privileges houses of worship receive under the tax code.
In an opinion issued for American Atheists Inc. v. Shulman May 19, U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman seemed to agree with the thrust of American Atheists’ argument: that the generous tax exemptions churches receive have no secular purpose and therefore “improperly endorse religion.”
Voters in Mississippi are headed to the polls tomorrow for an important run-off election. U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran is locked in a tight battle against a state senator, Chris McDaniel, in a Republican primary.
Cochran has served in the Senate since 1978, but he’s running scared against McDaniel, an aggressive Tea Party challenger. The incumbent senator hopes to pull out a win based on an unusual weapon: black churches.
It’s always hard to tell what’s going on at the Internal Revenue Service. The tax agency isn’t exactly a font of information, and what it does release tends to be shrouded in bureaucratese.
But sometimes you can cut through the fog and learn some interesting things. For example, it appears that the IRS is becoming a little more aggressive on the issue of partisan politicking by tax-exempt, 501 (c)(3) organizations.
The end of the year is a time for lists. You’re probably seeing a lot of them – “25 Best Books of 2012,” “10 Overlooked Movies,” “What’s Hot and What’s Not” or whatever.
Along those lines, here’s a list of the Top Ten Church-State Stories from 2012 (listed in no particular order):
For the past few days, my inbox has been overflowing with emails about Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky.
The Roman Catholic prelate last week wrote a letter that he ordered all priests in his Peoria, Ill., diocese to read during services over the weekend. The missive purports to offer guidance about tomorrow’s election.