IRS denies tax exempt status to Texas religious group, argues prayer, Bible study benefit GOP
The IRS argued the group engages in political advocacy rather than religious study.
An Internal Revenue Service official has denied tax-exempt status to a Texas prayer and Bible study group, ruling that such activities benefit "the private interests" of the Republican Party.
"You do not qualify as an organization described in IRS Section 501(c)(3). You engage in prohibited political campaign intervention," Stephen A. Martin, director of the IRS Office of Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements, said in a letter to Christians Engaged, the Garland, Texas-based group, according to The Epoch Times.
Groups formed under the IRS's so-called 501(c)(3) are considered charitable organizations and have tax-exempt status as long as they engage in no political campaign activity and limited lobbying and other political efforts.
Martin's letter, dated May 18, was made public Wednesday by First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based law firm that specializes in religious freedom cases.
"You are also not operated exclusively for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c)(3), because you operate for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the D party," the letter reads. The "D party" is referencing the Republican Party according to a “legend” Martin provided at the top of his letter.
"The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the D party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRS Section 501(c)(3)," he added.
"We just want to encourage more people to vote and participate in the political process. How can anyone be against that?" said group President Bunni Pounds.