By its very nature, the IRS is an invasive agency. It can only function by obtaining highly confidential information from American taxpayers and cracking down when it finds that a citizen hasn’t been as forthcoming as it prefers.
At best, the agency’s job puts it at odds with the rights guaranteed to Americans by the First Amendment to practice the religion of their choice without interference. When not kept in check, it can run roughshod over religious people and organizations that Democratic administrations do not favor.
Another recent target of the federal government is Christians Engaged, a nonprofit organization based in Garland, Texas. The group focuses on helping Christians find prayer and civic involvement opportunities.
IRS Exempt Organizations Director Stephen Martin recently denied Christians Engaged application for federal tax-exempt status. The judgment discovered that the group engaged in political campaign “intervention” when promoting Christianity.
The IRS’s written denial stated that the group promoted Bible teachings that include the definition of marriage, freedom of speech, the sanctity of life, and “borders and immigration.” The IRS found that the teachings of the Bible are “typically affiliated” with Republican political candidates. That finding was the sole basis stated for denying tax-exempt status.
The denial sparked the involvement of the public interest legal group First Liberty and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) as well as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX). After some strong advocacy for the Constitutional rights of Christians, the IRS reversed its decision.
Christians Engaged had the ability and the contacts to get some big guns mobilized in its battle with the IRS. The lesson for all of us should be to think of what happens to countless smaller organizations and individuals who either don’t know how to take on the IRS or are understandably intimidated into silent acceptance of arbitrary and prejudicial decisions.
There is no reason to believe that IRS misdeeds concerning religious or conservative taxpayers went away with Lois Lerner and the Obama administration. The toothless apology finally extracted from Lerner is cold comfort for those who fall into the grasp of the IRS under the Biden administration.
When beltway bureaucrats are so partisan or dense as to assert that the Bible equals “Republican,” no religious organization or person is safe from the government. As always, being free means being vigilant.