In light of the recent scandals involving the Internal Revenue Service, it’s come to light that they not only target Christians, conservative groups and other political enemies of the Obama administration, but they also want you to “zip it” when it comes to proclaiming your religious beliefs and they have been caught on tape telling Americans that they must “respect other people’s beliefs,” not be confrontational against other religious groups or devalue other religious groups. Seems that the Federal agency that is to remain neutral due to the First Amendment is overstepping its bounds.
Alliance Defending Freedom reports:
Pro-Life Revolution is a Texas-based organization dedicated to helping women in abusive pregnancy situations and presenting the truth about abortion. Like all non-profit organizations, Pro-Life Revolution applied for tax-exempt status in January, 2011. It filled out the necessary paperwork and described the charitable activities it undertook. It expected to receive tax-exempt status with little difficulty. What it didn’t expect was to be confronted with an IRS bent on silencing its pro-life viewpoint as a condition of obtaining tax-exempt status.
IRS agent Sherry Wan contacted the organization several times requesting more information and telling it on more than one occasion that it must remain “neutral” on the subject of abortion and that it could not “confront” other people with different beliefs on the subject. At one point, Ania Joseph, President of Pro-Life Revolution recorded a phone call by Agent Wan who told Ania, “You cannot force your religion or force your beliefs on somebody else.” Ania told Agent Wan that simply handing a brochure to a woman was not forcing her religion on them. Agent Wan told her in the phone call, “You have to know your boundaries. You have to know your limits. You have to respect other people’s beliefs.” And lest there be any confusion on the subject, Agent Wan ended the phone call by stating:
We want you to be aware that, you know, when you conduct religious activities, meanwhile you have to respect other people’s beliefs, other people’s religion. You cannot use any kind of, you know, confrontation way, or to, or against other groups or devalue other groups, other people’s beliefs. OK?
The IRS later sent a letter to Pro-Life Revolution sating that it must abide by the “full and fair exposition” standard where it has to present both sides of an issue to allow the public to form an independent conclusion on the controversial subject. The problem with this standard is that it was declared to be unconstitutionally vague over thirty years ago! The IRS was attempting to apply a standard to Pro-Life Revolution that a federal appeals court had declared unconstitutional in 1980.
Additionally the IRS agent attempted to set up a legal standard which was not found in either law or the IRS’ own regulations. The letter read in part:
Further, an organization’s activities may not be considered serving (sic) educational purpose, if an organization carries out activities that aims (sic) to deny or reduce the rights of another segment of the community; that are designed to influence public opinion in favor of its advocated position; that may have adverse effect on the day to day operation of public health facilities (sic) that may be detrimental to the community as a whole; and that show (sic) a type of propaganda to defy other’s beliefs or viewpoints on the same matter.
Eric Stanley, Senior Legal Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom who represents Ms. Joseph, said the agent “simply made up” this standard, claiming that it made the IRS “speech police,” telling organizations what they can and cannot say.
ADF sent a letter on Ms. Joseph’s behalf to the IRS pointing out their unconstitutional stance and reminding them: “The government must shun being the arbiter of ‘truth.’” Their letter also warned the IRS: “Denying a tax exemption because the government disagrees with the viewpoint of the organization can be a discriminatory limitation on speech that violates the Constitution.”
As a result of the letter being sent, Pro-Life Revolution was granted exempt status.
While this case demonstrates the abuse of power by the Federal government under the Obama administration, it also demonstrates that there is victory when you are ready to stand up and hold government accountable to the law.