Complaints of IRS targeting by religious groups on the rise
The number of religious groups reporting they were improperly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is increasing.
At least a half-dozen conservative groups say they received an unusual degree of scrutiny from the IRS, according to the Religion News Service, a non-profit news service operated out of the University of Missouri’s journalism school.
Earlier this week Rev. Billy Graham’s son made headlines with a letter to President Obama accusing the administration of targeting the Samaritan’s Purse charity and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in an attempt to intimidate the group.
Since then, the Catholics United Education Fund and the Christian Voices for Life have reported significant delays in their applications for tax-exempt status from the IRS.
The Coalition for Life of Iowa also said that it took unusually long to receive their tax exempt status, according to the Thomas More Society, a non-profit group focused on supporting pro-life causes.
At a House hearing investigating the IRS abuses on Friday, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) called attention to The Coalition for Life of Iowa’s complaint, citing one particular question that the group was asked by the agency.
“Their question, specifically asked from the IRS to the Coalition for Life of Iowa: ‘Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers. Would that be an inappropriate question to a 501 c3 applicant? The content of one’s prayers?” asked Schock of the IRS’s former acting commissioner, Steven Miller.
Additionally, a North Carolina newsletter, the Biblical Recorder, reported receiving an audit after coming out in support of a state amendment banning gay marriage.
Graham’s group also links its allegations of being targeted by the IRS to its support of the North Carolina amendment as well as Ohio newspaper ads calling on voters to back gay marriage opponents at the polls. The group said it received a notice last year informing officials that the IRS would be reviewing their actions.
A conservative Jewish group, Z Street, operated out of Pennsylvania, also alleged that it was unfairly targeted by the IRS for its staunchly pro-Israel stances. The group filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of D.C. in 2010 objecting to the delay and what it calls additional layers of scrutiny.
The IRS revealed earlier this week that it had devoted extra levels of scrutiny to conservative groups with words such as “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their titles as they sought to gain tax-exempt status from the agency.
The White House has adamantly said that it did not know anything about the practices, which have become the focus of separate FBI and congressional investigations.