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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WIN: After National Backlash, IRS Grants TX Christian Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Status

07-07-2021
irsreversal

The IRS has decided to back down, granting tax-exempt status to Christians Engaged, a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers Christians to be civically engaged while praying for America and our elected officials.  

The reversal comes after a national backlash against the IRS's initial rejection of Christians Engaged's nonprofit status. The IRS had claimed at the time, "Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican party and candidates." 

First Liberty Institute, a religious rights law firm, represented Christians Engaged and successfully appealed the IRS's decision. 

Christians Engaged incorporated in July 2019 as a Texas nonprofit corporation "exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, or scientific purposes." From its religious perspective, the organization provides nonpartisan religious and civic education, focusing on encouraging and educating Christians to be engaged citizens as a part of their religious practice. Christians Engaged applied for tax-exempt status in late 2019.  

On its website, the organization states it is educational, Christian, and non-partisan.

As CBN News reported in June, Christians Engaged, was denied the tax exemption in a letter from IRS Exempt Organizations Director Stephen A. Martin. 

"Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations," Martin wrote. "The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3)." 

In its administrative appeal letter to the IRS, First Liberty wrote, "By finding that Christians Engaged does not meet the operational test, Director Martin errs in three ways: 1) he invents a nonexistent requirement that exempt organizations be neutral on public policy issues; 2) he incorrectly concludes that Christians Engaged primarily serves private, nonexempt purposes rather than public, exempt purposes because he thinks its beliefs overlap with the Republican Party's policy positions; and 3) he violates the First Amendment's Free Speech, and Free Exercise, and Establishment clauses by engaging in both viewpoint discrimination and religious discrimination."

After the appeal, Director Martin granted the application for 501(c)(3) status.

"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."

Christians Engaged President Bunni Pounds said, "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. When we stand up, our republic works for all Americans." 

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