Monday, November 24, 2014

Conservative Group Seeks IRS Communications With Freedom From Religion Foundation

As previously reported, in July the Freedom From Religion Foundation reached a settlement agreement with the Internal Revenue Service in a suit challenging the IRS's alleged non-enforcement against churches and religious organizations of the Section 501(c)(3) ban on political activity by non-profits. In announcing the settlement, FFRF said that the IRS has now adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations.

Now the conservative organization, Judicial Watch is attempting to discover more about these new procedures.  It announced today that earlier this month it filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking all records of communications between the IRS and FFRF on the promotion of political issues, legislation and candidates by churches and religious organizations.  It is also seeking all records relating to IRS monitoring of churches and religious organizations that took place to ensure they are not engaging in political activity.  The complaint (full text) in  Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service, (D DC, filed 11/6/2014), says that so far the IRS has failed to comply with Judicial Watch's request for these records.

Commenting on the filing of the lawsuit, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said:
As expressed by the First Amendment, Americans have the God-given right to both express their religious views and to engage in the political process. It is troubling that the IRS seems set to rely on a group of atheists to point them toward churches that might have criticized politicians.  And it is even more disturbing that the IRS would violate federal law, The Freedom of Information Act, in order to keep secret its monitoring of Americans praying together in church.  To be clear, the very IRS that abused Tea Partiers for Obama’s election now purports to be able to ‘audit’ houses of worship in order to protect politicians from criticism. I am sure the Obama administration is more than happy to use the excuse of a lawsuit by a leftist group to use the IRS to punish churches that oppose Obama’s war on religious freedom