The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has denied the request by a Texas faith-based organization to become tax-exempt, saying the group’s “Bible teachings” on abortion, marriage and other issues are primarily affiliated with the Republican Party.
In December 2019, Christians Engaged, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate and encourage Christians to be civically engaged, filed for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.
Seventeen months later, IRS Exempt Organizations Director Stephen A. Martin denied the organization’s application, stating in a letter that Christians Engaged “instruct[s] individuals on issues that are prominent in political campaigns and instruct[s] them in what the Bible says about the issue and how they should vote,” and therefore “engage[s] in prohibited political campaign intervention.”
Religious freedom law firm First Liberty Institute filed an appeal on behalf of Christians Engaged, arguing that the IRS is engaging “in both viewpoint discrimination and religious discrimination.”
“Only a politicized IRS could see Americans who pray for their nation, vote in every election and work to engage others in the political process as a threat,” said Lea Patterson, counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The IRS violated its own regulations in denying tax-exempt status because Christians Engaged teaches Biblical values.”
Bunni Pounds, president of Christians Engaged, explained in an interview with Fox News that the organization’s motivation is to “find the awakening church and plug them into processes of prayer, voting and engagement.”
“We do that from a nonpartisan point of view,” she clarified. “We’re here to minister to all Texans, all Americans.
“It’s so important for the church to rise up and be salt and light in our nation—and that is not precluding politics,” Pounds added. “[Christians] should be active in business, media, culture—and politics is just one of those things. I like to tell people—we don’t leave Jesus at the 100-foot marker; we take Him into the ballot box.”
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, suggested that cancel culture has come to the IRS.
“Civic engagement has been a bedrock principle of American society from the beginning,” he said. “To suggest that religious groups shouldn’t participate is the opposite of what the Founders intended. It’s not only unconstitutional—it’s outright harassment of faith-based groups.”
Photo: Michael Kemp/Alamy Stock Photo