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IRS: Bible = Republican

“Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.”

That may sound like a line from a liberal candidate’s speech when running for office, but it is actually a pronouncement from the Internal Revenue Service!

In an IRS letter that you really have to read to believe, the agency violated its own regulations in denying tax exempt status because a nonprofit organization, Christians Engaged, teaches biblical values. It also illegally discriminated against the organization’s religious viewpoint by claiming that biblical teachings are necessarily Republican.

Christians Engaged simply encourages citizens to pray for our nation and elected officials regularly, vote in every election to impact our culture, and engage in some form of political activity for the furtherance of the nation.  It is nonpartisan and holds a weekly Bible study, sends weekly prayer alerts, and organizes statewide and area prayer gatherings to pray for local, state, and national government officials.

It encourages those who are unfamiliar with the political process by “educat[ing] believers on the national issues that are central to our belief in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God,” and provides training, resources, and mentorships that help them navigate the political process in order to “promote [their] values or get involved with [their] passion.”

But that’s too much for the politicized IRS.  In a detailed letter, the IRS claimed that such actions prevent Christians Engaged from identifying as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.

History Repeating?

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because it is eerily reminiscent of a scandal that made headlines during President Obama’s administration when the IRS, under the leadership of Lois Lerner, was accused of targeting “tea party” groups.  In 2013, Congress held hearings to investigate claims that the IRS specifically targeted conservative organizations.

First Liberty Takes Action

In June 2021, First Liberty appealed the IRS’s determination against Christians Engaged.  In early July, just after Americans celebrated Independence Day, the IRS reversed course and granted Christians Engaged tax-exempt status!

“This is truly great news for our client, as well as religious organizations and churches across America,” said Lea Patterson, Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “We are grateful the IRS changed course to bring its decision into line with the Constitution and its own regulations.”

Christians Engaged President Bunni Pounds said, “I am incredibly thankful to the IRS for doing the right thing, and we look forward to continuing our mission of educating more followers of Jesus to pray for our nation and to be civically engaged. When we stand up, our republic works for all Americans.”

News Release
For Immediate Release: 7.7.21
Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453 

After Backlash, IRS Grants Religious Group Tax Exempt Status
First Liberty Institute represented Christians Engaged in its appeal after nonprofit status was denied for group’s teaching of Biblical values

Washington, DC—Today, First Liberty Institute announced that the IRS has granted tax exempt status to Christians Engaged, a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers Christians to pray for our nation and elected officials, vote, and be civically engaged.  The reversal comes after a national backlash against the IRS’s initial rejection of Christians Engaged’s nonprofit status because, the IRS claimed, “[B]ible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.”

“This is truly great news for our client, as well as religious organizations and churches across America,” said Lea Patterson, Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “We are grateful the IRS changed course to bring its decision into line with the Constitution and its own regulations.”

Christians Engaged President Bunni Pounds said, “I am incredibly thankful to the IRS for doing the right thing, and we look forward to continuing our mission of educating more followers of Jesus to pray for our nation and to be civically engaged. When we stand up, our republic works for all Americans.”

Christians Engaged incorporated in July 2019 as a Texas nonprofit corporation “formed exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, or scientific purposes.” From its religious perspective, Christians Engaged provides nonpartisan religious and civic education, focusing on encouraging and educating Christians to be civically engaged as a part of their religious practice. Christians Engaged applied for tax exempt status in late 2019.  On May 18, 2021, IRS Exempt Organizations Director Stephen A. Martin denied the application, contending that Christians Engaged “engage[s] in prohibited political campaign intervention” and “operate[s] for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the [Republican] party.” After the appeal, Director Martin granted the application for 501(c)(3) status.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.


6.16.21 – News Release

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