IRS DENIES CHRISTIAN COALITION TAX EXEMPTION
ACTION IS 'DEVASTATING BLOW' TO TV PREACHER PAT ROBERTSON'S POLITICAL GROUP
The Internal Revenue Service has denied the Christian Coalition status as a tax-exempt organization, a move hailed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
"It's about time," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, in response to a copyrighted report in today's St. Petersburg Times. "The Christian Coalition is a hardball political machine that has been masquerading as a tax-exempt group. The IRS has finally pulled off the mask.
"This is a devastating blow to TV preacher Pat Robertson's political ambitions," continued Lynn. "His crusade to politicize America's churches is now almost certain to fail. I, for one, say 'amen.'"
"The Coalition's primary political weapons are its voter guides," Lynn added. "Every year the Christian Coalition attempts to flex its political muscle by distributing these slanted guides in thousands of churches.
"In light of the IRS action, pastors would have to be out of their minds to distribute these guides now. The Christian Coalition's credibility is shot. That's the real impact of the IRS action."
Americans United has urged the IRS to deny the Coalition's application for tax exemption and has submitted voluminous evidence to the tax agency of the Coalition's obvious partisan nature.
Most notably, AU gave the IRS a tape of a September 1997 closed-door Robertson speech to Coalition state lieutenants outlining his partisan political goals and strategies. Urging the group to emulate political machines such as Tammany Hall, Robertson took credit for the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 and laid plans to elect a Republican to the presidency in 2000.
"That tape was the smoking gun," concluded AU's Lynn. "Robertson sounded more like a ward boss than a religious leader. After that, the IRS had no choice but to deny the group's tax exemption."
In 1990, in the wake of his failed bid for the GOP presidential nomination, Robertson formed the Christian Coalition, which sought tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. Since that time, the group has operated as a tax-exempt organization pending a final decision from the IRS.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states.
It may continue operating as it has, and playing political games - but it will have to pay taxes on its revenues, previously referred to as "donations."
Or, it can stop playing the politics game. But what are the odds of that since Robertson organized the CC for that very reason?
And what about those donations ... How many people will continue to contribute when the amount that they give is no longer deductible?
All in all it appears that if people want to funnel money into the portion/nature of the political spectrum that is the religious right they'll have to truly put their money where their mouths are; rather than sit back and reduce their tax indebtedness in exchange for funding vitriol and hateful rhetoric.