The atheists group the Freedom from Religion Foundation has gotten the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to agree to monitor churches for electioneering. This came about from a lawsuit settlement in which the atheist group claimed that the IRS was ignoring their complaint that churches are promoting political candidates and issues. If a church claims tax-exempt status then they are limited by federal law what they can say and do in regards to elections, politics and political candidates.
IRS agrees to monitor churches for electioneering
Kimberly Winston (“RNS,” July 21, 2014)
The Internal Revenue Service said it will monitor churches and other houses of worship for electioneering in a settlement reached with an atheist group.
The settlement was reached Friday (July 18) in federal court in Madison, Wis., where the initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist advocacy group that claims 20,000 members nationwide.
The suit alleged the IRS routinely ignored complaints by the FFRF and others about churches promoting political candidates, issues or proposed legislation. As part of their tax-exempt status, churches and other religious groups are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity.
At the time the suit was filed, the IRS maintained it was not ignoring complaints of electioneering, but had failed to hire an official to investigate church politicking, which it had been ordered to do in 2009 as the result of another lawsuit.
“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 Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF’s co-president.
However, under the current congressional investigation of the IRS for improperly monitoring conservative groups, there is a moratorium on all IRS investigations. Still, Gaylor said the suit may be revived if the IRS fails to police what she called “rogue political churches” after the moratorium is lifted.
Read the complete article about the atheist group and the IRS monitoring churches at Worldwide Religious News
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