Did the IRS target pro-life
It looks like the IRS also targeted pro-life groups for some very special attention, and not just by stuffing their applications for tax-exempt status in a broom closet. In one case, a group called Cherish Life Ministries, founded by pro-life activist Peter Shinn, was allegedly told it could only receive non-profit status if it promoted abortion, too. From World Net Daily:
“Our goal is to assist churches, organize and support a life ministry in defense of life and help function as an outreach to people struggling with unwanted pregnancies in the local community,” the site states.
Education materials are offered.
But Shinn said the IRS contacted him regarding his application for nonprofit status, and was told he didn’t qualify.
“The representative was telling me I had to provide information on all aspects of abortion, I couldn’t just educate the church from the pro-life perspective,” he said. “Every time I pressed her on this issue and asked her to clarify her position, she would state that it wasn’t what she was saying, and then, she would repeat it almost the same way.”
LIfeSiteNews interviewed Shinn and got some more details of this Orwellian adventure. It sounds like the sort of thing that would be swiftly immortalized in popular culture through late-night comedy skits, TV shows, and movies… if it happened to a left-wing group, of course.
Shinn told LifeSiteNews that when he called the caseworker in charge of his application to complain, she told him that to be considered an “educational” organization, his group would have to present both sides of the abortion argument.
“What, are you kidding?” Shinn recalled asking the caseworker. “You want me to educate people on how good abortion is?”
Shinn said when he directly asked the caseworker if she was telling him he had to promote abortion in order to receive a tax-exemption, she denied that was what she meant. But she seemed to contradict herself moments later, telling Shinn, “When you’re educating, you have to educate on all aspects.”
“Do you think that Planned Parenthood” – which is also a 501(c)3 organization – “teaches pro-life? I don’t think so.”
On the other hand, Shinn says the IRS thoughtfully re-wrote his organization’s bylaws for him. Now that’s customer service!
According to LifeNews, the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal group, has many more complaints like this – including one group that was told it had to promise the IRS, in writing, under penalty of perjury, that it would not protest outside Planned Parenthood clinics:
In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent “Ms. Richards” told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood. Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved.
After a series of letters following a request for more invasive information, Thomas More Society special counsel Sally Wagenmaker sent a letter to the IRS demanding the tax exempt status be issued immediately.
Wagenmaker summarized her concerns about what she called “the IRS’s disturbing ability” to stall and suppress legitimate applicants. She explained how through lengthy questionnaires and wrong citations of applicable law (as in the case of Coalition for Life of Iowa), applicants with less fortitude or without access to legal advocates like the Thomas More Society will be effectively silenced from exercising their constitutional freedoms.
After this intervention by the Thomas More Society, Coalition for Life eventually got its tax exemption in August 2009. Oddly, the official Determination Letter was backdated to July 2009. In case you’re wondering, Planned Parenthood of America, Inc., “is recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation by the Internal Revenue Service.”
Another group called Christian Voices for Life, headquartered in Texas, got the now-familiar data mining colonoscopy reserved exclusively for conservative groups, including “repeated and lengthy unconstitutional requests for information about the viewpoint and content of its educational communications, volunteer prayer vigils, and other protected activities.”
Too bad these folks weren’t liberal organizations! Then they would have been able to whistle up saturation media coverage for these abuses years ago, instead of waiting until a massive scandal tore Washington asunder to get their day in the media sun. And as we all know by now, President Obama only learns of these things when he reads about them in the newspaper.