IRS changes course after Sen. Lee and Rep. Owens of Utah send letter on religious liberty
After a June letter to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), and colleagues, the IRS reversed course on a determination removing tax-exempt status of a religious values group. The letter protested the IRS claim that “the sanctity of life, biblical marriage, and biblical justice” were associated principally with political platforms.
Of the letter, Sen. Lee said, “I am glad to see that after receiving our letter, the IRS reversed course on what would have been a dangerous and discriminatory decision. Religious groups must be free to teach their beliefs without fear of government retaliation.”
Rep. Owens said, “With this politically motivated and discriminatory decision, the IRS contradicted itself and alienated Americans of faith. Religious prejudice should never be tolerated, especially from our federal institutions. I’m glad to see this biased determination reviewed and corrected.”
The June letter read in part:
“We write today to express extreme concern regarding a recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determination on the tax-exempt status of Christians Engaged, a nonprofit organization located in Texas. We urge you to personally review this determination, and remove the individual, or individuals, responsible for the blatantly biased, discriminatory, and flawed reasoning that led to the determination.
“Mr. Martin also takes offense to Christians Engaged’s teachings regarding “freedom of speech, defense, … borders and immigration, [and] U.S. and Israel relations.” Millions of Americans draw deeply from their religious beliefs to inform how they vote and many religious organizations conduct get out the vote efforts. In fact, President Biden himself campaigned alongside church leaders during the 2020 presidential race.
“The IRS must objectively analyze applications for tax-exempt status and cannot allow political biases to creep into its decisions. We urge you to immediately review Christians Engaged’s application for 501(c)(3) status personally, and terminate the IRS staff involved in the flawed and politically motivated reasoning behind the determination.”
The full text of the letter and an online version of this release can be found here.