Move Along: Nothing to See at the IRS
According to the Justice Department, an FBI investigation has found the IRS innocent of criminal activity concerning the targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Predictably, conservative non-profits caught in the crosshairs of the IRS are angry. Fox News reports that Jenny Beth Martin, the cofounder of the Tea Party Patriots, called the news "absolutely outrageous," adding, "It only leads us to the point where we can make guesses about their motives. Why are they protecting the IRS?"
Martin asks a good question.
Frankly, it is difficult for Tea Party and other conservatives to see the Justice Department's waiver of culpability by means of a cursory FBI investigation as anything other than a coverup. The more severe among conservatives are bound to see the exoneration of the IRS' despicable behavior toward conservatives as evidence of corruption and collusion with the Obama administration, especially since the leader of the alleged "investigation" was an Obama donor. Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ has been among the more forthright, calling the FBI's pitiful investigative efforts a "sham."
So why did the FBI pass on the opportunity to thoroughly investigate the scandal?
Frankly, it is hard to avoid the suspicion the administration, including the laughably named Department of Justice, does not want the scandal to grow legs and run very far, as the IRS is to be the chief enforcement arm for ObamaCare.
But just as bad, evidently the administration actually wants the agency to increase its targeting of conservative groups. Close inspection by the FBI would interfere with the IRS' increased role in accelerating harassment of what the administration considers questionable groups.
According to the American Family Association, the Obama administration is moving to silence the AFA from speaking out on elections, once again using the IRS as a weapon to shut up conservative institutions.
In a January 14 release, the AFA states:
"The IRS is proposing regulations that will give them the authority to restrict AFA and others' voter guides, legislative scorecards, get-out-the-vote campaigns and even the voter registration activities of non-profit groups by defining such civic engagement as 'candidate-related political activity.' "
The AFA statement adds the proposed rules are an egregious attempt to silence not only AFA, but the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and the Tea Party as well.
American Family Association General Counsel Patrick Vaughn stated, "The proposed regulations are consistent with the IRS' scandalous suppression of Tea Party applications for tax exemption. The IRS seems to have decided that it may have to process Tea Party applications, but it can render the organizations impotent."
(Read Mr. Vaughn's summary of the regulations here. He indicates Obama is seeking to overrule congress via IRS rules and regulations.)
The AFA report continues:
"If these rules are adopted by the IRS, it would have a negative effect on non-profit organizations. For example, this very email would be considered political activity and could jeopardize AFA's non-profit status. In addition, groups like your AFA would no longer be able to distribute voter guides, promote voter registration, report voting records of elected officials, or even mention the names of candidates who are running for election. Eventually, these rules could filter down to churches, simply at the whim of the IRS, basically silencing conservatives and Christians for exercising their patriotic and civic freedoms." (Italics mine.)
The last sentence of the AFA release is particularly chilling, as it indicates the true goal of the administration's cynical use of a supra-constitutional entity is to silence opposition completely.
That the IRS would be used as a tool to silence churches should come as no surprise. The agency is merely tightening the screws riveted into place by former president Lyndon Baines Johnson. One of the main reason churches have shut up on political issues is that Johnson created the 501c3 tax-exempt status for churches in 1954. It soon followed that the fear of losing their tax exempt status meant most pastors, with the notable exceptions of black and radically progressive churches in tune with the Zeitgeist, became unwilling to speak about any issue that might be designated as "political." To their enduring shame, many conservative churches imbibed the Kool-Aid, often seeing discussion of political issues, much less taking a stand on controversial issues, as inherently "divisive," and therefore to be avoided at all costs.
Many of today's apolitical preachers, as well as their congregations, would be absolutely horrified by sermons such as Charles Beecher's anti-slavery 1851 sermon, "The Duty of Disobedience to Wicked Law;" or Noah Porter's "Civil Liberty: A Sermon;" or Sarah Grimke's letter, "An Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States;" or, a title that's become an instant favorite, "The Fire and Hammer of God's Word Against the Sin of Slavery," by George Barrell Cheever.
You can bet those pastors' tax-exempt status would be challenged by the IRS, had it existed then. But in our own times, the new regulations proposed by that agency IRS are ratcheting up the grip of the vise installed by Johnson.
In view of the fact the IRS will continue to be used by our current administration as a punitive force designed to silence churches and conservative organizations, what should be done?
Churches need to realize their right to speak to and examine current social, cultural, and political issues is a constitutionally guaranteed right. They also have the right to distribute voter guides. In fact, they have a tax-exempt status that is not subject to either Johnson's rules or IRS regulations.
They need to refuse to be intimidated, just as the Little Sisters of the Poor should refuse to sign away their religious rights.
In fact, it appears conservative groups, like the Little Sisters, may have to exercise civil disobedience or face having their constitutional rights of freedom of religion and speech regulated out of existence by the IRS.
In the meantime, will we soon hear a sermon entitled "The Duty of Disobedience to the Wicked IRS?"
Fay Voshell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org