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IRS will monitor church activity

The IRS has established protocols for monitoring religious organizations
The IRS has established protocols for monitoring religious organizations
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

As part of a settlement in a cased filed by the Wisconsin based Freedom from Religion Foundation, the IRS has established a protocol for investigating churches with tax-exempt status as well as religious organizations that may be involved in political activity.

FFRF's co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said "This is a victory, and we're pleased with this development in which the IRS has proved to our satisfaction that it now has in place protocol to enforce its own anti-electioneering provisions." [Star Tribune]

The lawsuit was originally filed in Madison in 2012 and alleged that the IRS was not enforcing federal tax code and therefore violating the Constitution. Tax-exempt religious organizations are prohibited from electioneering. notes "The Freedom from Religion Foundation is widely seen as the most litigious of the dozen or so national atheist advocacy groups. It claims to have brought 40 First Amendment lawsuits since 1977 and is currently involved in legal challenges to a Ten Commandments monument, graduation prayers and a Catholic shrine on public land."

But Erik Stanley, senior legial counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom and head of the Pulpit Initiative, told LifeSiteNews that "the IRS has no business censoring what a pastor preaches from the pulpit" and noted that his organization is "attempting to bring the era of the IRS censorship and intimidation to an end by challenging the Johnson Amendment, which imposes unconstitutional restrictions on clergy speech."

The 1954 Johnson Amendment prohibits non-profits from endorsing candidates.