The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has turned its attack on one of its long-time allies, announcing that it is suing the federal government over the failure of the Internal Revenue Service to bar churches and Christian organizations from involvement in the political process.
According to the FFRF, its lawsuit, filed November 14 in a Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. District Court, “argues that the IRS is not enforcing the federal tax code, which prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering.” The FFRF insists that the IRS' lack of enforcement “is a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment and a violation of equal protection rights because the same preferential treatment is not provided to other tax-exempt organizations” — such as the FFRF. The group complained that churches and other Christian groups have taken to “blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions” set up by the IRS back in the 1950s.
Among the violations the group cited were ads published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers encouraging Americans to vote in line with biblical principles. The 94-year-old Billy Graham also reportedly met in October with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, pledging to do “all I can” to help in Romney's elections efforts.
The FFRF is also sore over the efforts of Catholic bishops to encourage their members to vote in line with a “Catholic conscience” and warning against supporting candidates who embrace abortion and same-sex marriage. In the run-up to the election, scores of priests and bishops addressed their flocks concerning the issues, including Green Bay, Wisconsin, Bishop David L. Ricken; Peoria, Illinois, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky; and Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin — the three Catholic leaders specifically targeted by the FFRF.
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