June 14, 2013
Bullying at the highest level
The famous saying states, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” You might say that should be the motto of the Internal Revenue Service. Recently, a scandal has erupted with overwhelming evidence the IRS abused its authority in order to push a biased political agenda. Their corrupt practices resulted in documented harassment and discrimination against conservative groups, including pro-life organizations.
As more details are revealed, the excuses and apologies coming from the federal agency are unconvincing. It’s become clear that this wasn’t just a few isolated incidents, but rather a full-fledged assault in an attempt to use its power to silence pro-life voices. Quite simply, the IRS has emerged as an ideological bully and it’s targeting pro-lifers like us.
Cherish Life Ministries was one of the victims. It’s an organization that works with a coalition of churches to support women facing unplanned pregnancies, promote abstinence and work to end abortion. After submitting its application, the group was contacted by the IRS and told that it didn’t qualify for non-profit status. Why? The representative said that Cherish Life Ministries had to also provide information from a pro-abortion point-of-view! It couldn’t just educate from the pro-life perspective.
This wasn’t the only case. Christian Voices for Life faced similar objections to its non-profit application. The IRS implied the pro-life group had to include the pro-abortion perspective to provide balance in order to get approved. It even requested inappropriate information about the content of its educational materials, prayer vigils and other activities. Consider the hypocrisy since pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood enjoy 501(c)(3) status without being asked to present a pro-life point of view. Why is their right to free speech protected while pro-lifers’ is not?
Coalition for Life of Iowa faced even more deliberate targeting when its application for tax exempt status was withheld. The IRS requested a letter with the group’s board members signatures stating that “under perjury of the law, they [wouldn’t] picket, protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood.” Once the IRS received this letter, then their application would be approved. Sounds like calculated blackmail to me.
The group, Pro-Life Revolution ministers to women facing a crisis pregnancy. President, Ania Joseph said it took almost two and a half years to receive their tax exempt status. They faced a number of hurdles and invasive questions. Finally, Ania decided to record a phone conversation with the IRS agent. During the recording, you hear IRS agent, Sherry Wan, tell Ania the group shouldn’t reach out to women or protest at abortion mills. She even went as far as to say they must “keep their faith to themselves.” That’s a clear violation of their constitutional rights.
How much further does this go? Suspicions are that it wasn’t just newly formed pro-life and conservative groups, but existing groups were also targeted for audits during the same time period. Many groups may have suffered in silence with a fear that going public would invite more persecution.
After abusing and violating the system, it’s time to have the tables turned on the IRS. I’ve joined with other leaders to petition for a full and complete audit of IRS practices. I’d like to ask other heads of organizations to do the same. An official letter to the Inspector General has been drafted. You can read the letter and add your group and signature by following the instructions on our website. The deadline to sign on is next Tuesday, June 18 th by close of business. Let’s come together and show the IRS and pro-aborts that we won’t be bullied into silence.
Standing firmly for LIFE,
Life Issues Institute