IRS Sued over Covert Deal With Atheists Against Churches

WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Internal Revenue Service for failing to produce records on its secret deal with an activist group to investigate churches. Federal law requires the tax agency to produce the records that ADF requested under the Freedom of Information Act in July 2014, but the IRS missed its legally required deadline months ago and has continued to stonewall the request.

Judicial Watch attorneys are representing ADF in the lawsuit over the FOIA request, which asked that the IRS produce documents related to a legal settlement in which the agency apparently adopted new protocols and procedures for church investigations. ADF is requesting the same information already provided to Freedom From Religion Foundation, which struck a deal with the IRS to end the lawsuit Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Koskinen.

“Americans deserve to know what the IRS is up to,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The agency’s unwillingness to produce these records only furthers the perception that it makes secret deals with activists that it wishes to hide from the public. The IRS’s delays make no sense because we only asked for the same information that it already provided to Freedom From Religion Foundation. The IRS has forced us to file this lawsuit just so we can obtain what the agency is already legally obligated to produce.”

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“The Obama IRS seems oblivious to the federal court’s orders to provide full information,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “With the help of a compromised Justice Department, the IRS has engaged in prolonged stonewalling. The IRS thinks it can toy with a federal court, Congress, and the American people. For over two years, the administration has been hiding information on the IRS’s targeting of Obama’s political opponents. It is certainly in the public’s interest to know what the new IRS guidelines are for investigating a basic First Amendment right.”

In July 2014, a Freedom From Religion Foundation press release announced it had reached a settlement with the IRS in its lawsuit against the agency. As the release revealed, “The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations.”

The FFRF press release mentioned the ADF-sponsored “Pulpit Freedom” movement as a motivation for its lawsuit, which urged the IRS to enforce what’s known as the “Johnson Amendment” against churches. Currently, the Johnson Amendment authorizes the IRS to regulate sermons and requires churches to give up their constitutionally protected freedom of speech in order to retain their tax-exempt status.

“The IRS cannot condition tax-exempt status on the surrender of a constitutionally protected freedom,” explained ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who heads the Pulpit Freedom effort. “Churches don’t have to give up their freedom of speech to remain tax-exempt any more than they have to give up their protection against illegal search and seizure. Nonetheless, behind closed doors, the IRS appears to be sharpening its procedures for monitoring sermons and performing additional audits. It should stop playing games with the American people, who can only assume by this continual and illegitimate secrecy that the agency has something to hide.”

The lawsuit Alliance Defending Freedom v. Internal Revenue Service was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Several members of Congress, at least one state attorney general, and a number of concerned organizations have also asked the IRS to come clean on its settlement with FFRF.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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  • Thisoldspouse

    This profligate, virulently anti-Christian federal government is just testing the waters, seeing how far they can push before being called out, forcing Christians to expend their OWN resources in defense of corrupt behavior against them. This is all orchestrated.

    • Bob Ellis

      Obviously they can push quite far. It seems most Americans these days are (a) too stupid to realize when their freedoms are under fire, (b) too busy with their Twitter feed and Survivor reruns to care, and/or (c) enemies of freedom themselves.

      May God have mercy (that we don’t even come close to deserving as a nation).

  • DCM7

    You mean people whose philosophy rejects the idea of a creator because it would hold them to standards of behavior they don’t want to be held to…
    …have been doing dirty deals to give themselves unfair advantages?
    Wow, imagine that!

    • franklinb23

      The comments section is probably not the best place for this but …

      While I’m not an a-theist, I think any reasonable person would agree that merely having a belief in a Creator is no guarantee that one will behave in one way or another (although the presumption is that it should).

      It didn’t prevent tensions in Belfast between Catholics and Protestants from rising to the level of violence. It certainly didn’t prevent the Civil War in which both sides appealed to Biblical morality and ethics.

      The Russian Orthodox Church today has an interesting relationship with the Kremlin and former-KGB member Vladimir Putin and where the “One True Faith” and Russian nationalism is so intertwined as to be indistinguishable.

      One of the most infamous collaborators in the Rwanda genocide that killed over 800,000 Tutsis was a Catholic priest, and I’m sure I don’t need to mention the institutionalized protection of pedophiles by this same church.

      Of course, many Christians do great and kind things, but so what?

      All this says is that having a particular system of beliefs doesn’t seem to make all that much of an impact, net-net, on being “good” (at least in any coherent sense).

      Religion seems to make some good people a little better, but bad people infinitely worse, merely because it inflames their own sense of righteousness and feeling of superiority. With “God on one’s side”, it doesn’t leave much room for discussion does it?

      • Bob Ellis

        It’s true that identifying yourself with a particular set of beliefs doesn’t necessarily dictate that actions will follow the doctrine of that set of beliefs. If it did, the Republican Party wouldn’t be so full of Democrats with an “R” after their name, advancing liberal policies and hindering conservative ones while identifying themselves with the conservative party of record.

        This dichotomy can range all the way from the relatively mild (where a person simply likes something about a particular belief-group and identifies themselves with it, without really going to the trouble of learning in-depth about those beliefs or having the discipline to try to live according to that set of beliefs), to the more extreme cases (like the ones you mentioned, plus others like those who call themselves “Christians” while promoting one or more grossly immoral activities that God has clearly said are wrong). As the saying goes (and applies to most things), going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.

        But for those who take a belief system seriously, it DOES result in considerable differences in how they live. And the more seriously they take a belief system, and they more dedicated they are to following a belief system to its logical end, the more pronounced those differences are. In other words, the more dedicated the follower, the more profound his actions will be.

        For example, Islam ( is a belief system that, while it has some passing shared elements with Christianity and Judaism, posits some vastly different fundamental assumptions and calls for some radically different behaviors in its adherents (the most extreme of which include taqiyya and jihad). Now, I know that many people say that most Muslims are good, peaceful people, and numerically speaking, I have no problem whatsoever with that statement. I happen to know a Muslim and interact with him regularly (I’ve had meals with him and done other recreational activities with him); he’s a great guy and I consider him a friend. But he would also tell you that while he observes the festivals, etc. required under Islam, he is not even remotely a fundamentalist either in his beliefs or his adherence to many of the tenets of Islam. The same is true of probably the numerical majority of Muslims worldwide. But consider this: if only 10% of Muslims are of the variety who truly take their faith seriously enough to try to fully pursue it to its fullest mandates and logical conclusions, that’s still 1.6 MILLION radical Muslims who believe in jihad and subjugating the infidels. Ironically, the apostate Muslims (i.e. the ones who least closely follow its tenets) are the most peaceful ones.

        For another example, atheism (and I’ll throw in evolution with it, because evolution attempts to explain scientifically what atheism posits from purely a faith basis) posits certain fundamental truths, and those posited fundamental truths carry with them certain implications if followed to their logical conclusions.

        If we really are here as the result of pure chance and cosmic accident as atheists/evolutionists claim, then there is no God (or moral law giver) to which we are accountable in this life or any other. If there is no objective moral standard and no eternal accountability, then behavioral “standards” are up for grabs. They can be established by the person or people with the strength and power to enforce their standard (and we’ve seen this played out in Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union, and many other Marxist/paganistic nations). That is the logical conclusion in such a universal framework. And if human beings are just an animal that’s simply more involved than the rest (i.e. not created in the image of God, who is really an eternal soul wrapped in flesh), then there is really nothing special about human beings that they should be treated with what is known in the religious framework as “kindness”, nor is there any reason not to simply kill one if it gets in the way of what you want. In fact, NOT killing a human being that gets in your way is about as logical as driving around an ant on the interstate.

        People who commit suicide, steal or destroy the property of others, assault or kill others…if they’re atheistic in their life philosophy, they’re just living out the tenets of their belief system, and according to the framework of their own assumptions, shouldn’t feel any guilt for injuring or even killing another person…and, according to the framework of assumptions of those who believe that way, neither should they be condemned for living according to the tenets of their belief system. After all if we’re all just highly evolved animals, there is no transcendent moral law, and no transcendent moral law giver to whom we are accountable, and there is no afterlife in which we are judged for actions in this life, then why not take from others what you want and kill them if they inconvenience you?

        Now, I know it’s very rare that you’ll find an atheist/evolutionist who’ll acknowledge this logical conclusion and embrace it. (Ben Stein’s “Expelled” documentary is an excellent expose on this). After all, the logical conclusions one comes to if one follows the atheistic/evolutionistic philosophy get immensely horrifying very quickly. Just take a look at the 6 million Jews dead in Nazi Germany, as well as the lives of so many others lost to that Godless philosophy. And when you ponder the 100 million dead worldwide to Godless Marxism in the last century (including the horrors of the Soviet Union and the “killing fields” of Cambodia), it quickly becomes apparent why virtually no atheist or evolutionist wants to come with a thousand miles of the logical outcome of their belief system.

        Hypocritically, virtually all atheists insist on having their cake and being able to eat it, too. In other words, if they agree with the moral standard (and especially if they are the potential target of unpleasant actions by others) they insist that people live as if human beings had some intrinsic sacred value, and as if we were transcendently accountable for our actions…but academically speaking, and when they disagree with the moral standard (e.g. abortion, homosexual behavior, etc.) then we’re supposed to believe there are no objective moral standards, and we don’t even need them.

        Sure. Its rank hypocrisy and intellectual disingenuousness, it what it is. As with Muslims, the apostate atheist (i.e. the one who doesn’t really live according to the philosophy with which he identifies) is the one who gets along better with his fellow man (the real adherents who follow it to their logical conclusion become, if they can gather the power, people like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.)

        Now take Christianity. Its tenets posit that there is an all-powerful God who created this universe and everything in it; that God created human beings in his own image, to have an eternal soul and moral awareness; that God declared, because human beings are sentient like himself and have an immoral soul, they are sacred; that God established a transcendent moral code based on his own nature; that God expects human beings to adhere to that standard, or face eternal judgment for rebelling against their creator; that this moral standard involves not taking an innocent human life, being kind to other human beings, helping other human beings in need, and basically treating other human beings with the level of caring that we would want others to treat us (i.e. the “Golden Rule”).

        What might the logical conclusions and outcome of such a worldview produce? Well, we don’t have to look very far to see that even in the early days of Christianity, Christians turned the Roman Empire upside down (even in the middle of brutal persecution) by creating early hospitals and orphanages and adoption agencies-bringing a respect for human life to an otherwise pretty harsh and often bloodthirsty culture. Such efforts of compassion have continued over the past 2,000 years and continue today. Which nations do the most for needy and suffering people around the world? Godless Marxist countries? Nope. Islamic countries? No way. Buddhist countries? Uh uh. Hindu nations. Nope. Christian nations. And which nation has excelled head and shoulders at this above all others? Just “happens” to be the nation most closely founded on Christian principles in all of history: the United States.

        Speaking of the United States and its founding Christian principles, those included limited government (recognizing the fallen, sinful nature of man, and man’s predisposition toward oppression in the accumulation of power), and the free market (which can only happen in an environment of limited government), and the promotion of public virtue in our leaders as well as our citizens (read George Washington’s Farewell Address for more on this), as well as the already-mentioned value of private charity. And while America has obviously made its mistakes and indulged in its own sins (slavery, treatment of Native Americans, etc.), it is undeniable that America has been the most free, most prosperous, and most powerful nation in history. Just a “coincidence”? The fact that the most free, most prosperous and most powerful nation in history just happened to be founded by Christians on Christian principles, with those principles woven into our founding documents and government? Sure, and somewhere in the world, there might be flying pigs, too.

        There will always be exceptions to the rule. There will always be people who say one thing and do another (i.e. your apostate Christians, who claim to be a Christian but live like a pagan). There will always be people who, for whatever reason, don’t live up to and follow the implications of a belief system, in greater or lesser measure, to their logical conclusion.

        But to the rational mind, it is undeniable that, as the saying goes, ideas have consequences. Good ideas bring good consequences; bad ideas bring bad consequences.

        That is why, politically, it is SO important to pursue only good ideas and run like heck from bad ones.

        That is why, theologically and spiritual, it is SO important to pursue only good ideas and run like heck from bad ones. Because everyone’s eternal destiny depends on it.

        • DCM7

          Excellent job of trashing the old “Christianity doesn’t make people good” myth. Clean it up a little and you have another article!

          • Bob Ellis

            Thanks. A similar thought crossed my mind.

            • DCM7

              I humbly suggest the title “Beliefs Have Consequences.”

              • Bob Ellis

                Is that another nudge? :-)