UPDATE 7:00 AM 7/8/2021: Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Chip Roy, both Republicans from Texas, issued statements after the IRS reversed its decision to deny Christians Engaged tax-exempt status after accusing the organization of being a Republican front group.
Sadly following in the footsteps of the Obama IRS, the Biden IRS was likewise politically weaponized when it indefensibly denied tax-exempt status to the Texas nonprofit organization Christians Engaged. I was proud to stand with 14 of my colleagues in calling out this brazen politicization and demanding the reversal of this open discrimination against Christians. Thankfully, under public scrutiny, the Biden administration was forced to change course; today’s reversal is a victory for our religious freedoms and for Americans of faith across our country. But the initial denial stands as a warning that if we don’t stand up for our liberties and fight to hold this administration accountable, the Biden administration is more than willing to use the IRS as a political weapon.
I am encouraged by the IRS’s decision to reverse course and grant Christians Engaged 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and I congratulate Bunni Pounds and First Liberty on this hard fought victory for religious freedom. I proudly led a letter, co-signed by 14 members of the House and Senate, calling out the blatantly biased, discriminatory, and flawed reasoning used in the IRS’s initial denial of Christians Engaged’s nonprofit application. While I welcome this reversal, the IRS staff responsible for the initial determination still must be held to account and should be terminated.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: The Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday approved a Christian charitable group’s application for tax-exempt status after a “politically motivated” agent initially rejected the request, First Liberty Institute reported in a press release.
IRS Exempt Organizations Director Stephen A. Martin in May denied Christians Engaged’s application for non-profit status because Biblical “teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.”
Martin argued that the Christian group “engage[s] in prohibited political campaign intervention” and “operate[s] for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the [Republican] party.”
Christians Engaged states on its website that it “exists to awaken, motivate, educate, and empower ordinary believers in Jesus Christ” to pray, vote, and engage.
“I am incredibly thankful to the IRS for doing the right thing, and we look forward to continuing our mission of educating more followers of Jesus to pray for our nation and to be civically engaged,” Christians Engaged President Bunni Pounds. “When we stand up, our republic works for all Americans.”
Martin’s approval comes a few weeks after House and Senate Republicans sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in which they demanded that he fire Martin and reverse the decision.
The Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, said Martin’s logic, if applied uniformly, “would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of thousands of Christian churches around the country.”
They called Martin’s denial “blatantly biased, discriminatory,” filled with “flawed reasoning,” and “politically motivated.”
Christians Engaged first applied for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 2019.
“This is truly great news for our client, as well as religious organizations and churches across America,” said Lea Patterson, Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “We are grateful the IRS changed course to bring its decision into line with the Constitution and its own regulations.”