By: Konrad Holden
In May, the IRS rejected the tax-exempt status of an organization that helps Christians get involved in the political process. The IRS rejected the group by saying that the "Bible's teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party and candidates." The group has filed an appeal to challenge the decision.
According to their website, Christians Engaged "exists to awaken, motivate, educate, and empower ordinary believers in Jesus Christ to: pray for our nation and elected officials regularly, vote in every election to impact our culture, [and] engage our hearts in some form of political education or activism for the furtherance of our nation."
Apparently, this is a problem to the IRS, who denied their claim for tax-exempt status.
IRS exempt organizations director, Stephen Martin, argued that the group’s focus on educating Christians in certain areas of public policy would typically benefit the Republican Party. In theory, this makes the group partisan and therefore not eligible for tax-exempt status.
According to the IRS, the group does not qualify for tax-exempt status under federal law because its education initiatives would benefit Republican candidates and would effectively "participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."
The group's legal counsel has filed an appeal saying that it is not disqualifying for a non-profit to have stances on issues of public policy. It also alleges that the IRS is violating the group's first amendment rights.
Bunni Pounds, the president of Christians Engaged, said that "We just want to encourage more people to vote and participate in the political process. How can anyone be against that?"
"Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations. The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3)." - Stephen Martin, IRS exempt organizations director