US Christian and pro-life groups targeted by IRS

Several Christian and pro-life groups in the United States have alleged they were unlawfully targeted by the Inland Revenue Service in an apparent effort to curtail their activities.

One of them, the Christian pro-life group Cherish Life Ministries, said it was told by an IRS agent that the organisation did not qualify for non-profit status because it did not present pro-abortion arguments alongside pro-life arguments.

Earlier, the IRS had apologised for subjecting more than 70 politically conservative groups to strict scrutiny over their applications for tax-exempt status during the 2012 presidential election.

“It was an error in judgment, and it was not appropriate, but that’s what they did,” said Lois Lerner, department head for tax-exempt organisations. “I think they were insensitive, or less sensitive than they should have been.”

As a result, two high-ranking officers of the IRS have resigned.

Since then, several more groups have complained of harassment by the IRS.

Coalition for Life, in Iowa, was told it could not receive non-profit status unless it agreed to limit its picketing and protesting against Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics.

Pharmacists for Life International reported that at least two of its officers and board members were “subjected to ongoing harassment and intimidation attempts by the IRS through continued and costly nuisance audits and threatening letters”.

The director of the conservative Catholic League, Bill Donohue, said his group had been investigated for possibly violating IRS rules on political activities. He discovered that the investigation had been prompted by the left-wing group Catholics United, which supported the Obama administration.

The Bill Graham Evangelistic Association was targeted for an audit after running advertisements supporting marriage and asking voters to choose candidates using “biblical principles”.

Dr Anne Hendershott, a Catholic sociology professor, said she was investigated after she wrote articles critical of President Barack Obama’s health care legislation. She said she was “so scared” by the IRS that she stopped writing on some subjects.

The National Organization for Marriage is filing a lawsuit against the IRS after its confidential tax return, including its list of donors, was leaked from the agency to the group’s chief political opponent, the Human Rights Campaign — a gay advocacy group promoting same-sex marriage.


Catholic News Agency

Religion News Service


Catholic News Agency

Image: Aleteia

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