This is Jay Sekulow.
The IRS is caught targeting Christians, and U.S. Senators demand answers, and so does the ACLJ. Keeping you informed and engaged, now more than ever, this is Sekulow. We want to hear from you. Share and post your comments or call 1-800-684-3110. And now your host, Jay Sekulow. Hi, everybody.
Welcome to the broadcast. We're going to be taking your calls a little bit later at 1-800-684-3110. It's a topic we've talked about before, but now the United States Senate is fully involved in this issue, and that is about five months ago, an issue started for a group called Christians Engaged, and they had trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. It was a flashback, basically, to what we dealt with back in, oh, four years ago, five years ago, actually, where we filed a federal lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service because they were targeting conservative organizations and Tea Party organizations, and organizations that they didn't like their name if they had liberty in it.
And they would get this incredible scrutiny with questionnaires that were not only violations of statutory law, but violations of the Constitution itself. We went to federal court, and ultimately we prevailed both in getting an injunction causing the IRS to change their policies, but also monetary damages in a companion case that was filed in Ohio. Now, I say all that as a prelude to the fact, four or five years after that, we've had no problems representing nonprofit organizations getting their tax-exempt status. But Christians Engaged was denied their status initially.
Ready for this? Because they used the Bible, they had a legend on the IRS letter that said a D equaled Republican, when you think it would equal Democrat, and they said that the positions you're taking are based on biblical worldviews. These are things the IRS should not have been even writing. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out exactly what happened, because, in our view, the IRS has violated the very injunction they signed. So we're going to get to the bottom of what happened.
But now, U.S. Senators have entered the situation, Logan, and they have now asked questions. That's right, and we can definitely kick it thin here to talk about this, but they have sent in a letter also to the IRS, Langford, and many others, demanding really a response of what happened here.
Because, you know, good for the organization. They eventually were able to fight with First Liberty and get their 501c3 status. However, that doesn't solve the root cause, which is what happened here, what actually led to them getting this letter saying, basically because you believe in Christian worldview, and they list a number of different things, that automatically means you're a conservative, which automatically means you're a Republican, which automatically means you're a political group and are denied tax exempt status. It's a pretty wild precedent that they would even put it in paper, Than. It really is, Logan, and the reason the United States Senate is involved now is because back in 2018, in addition to the consent decree that your dad was talking about, Congress actually told the IRS in statute that they cannot engage in this targeting again. They said things like the be on the lookout list are outlawed. They called it the lowest learner rule, and it was passed as part of the appropriations process.
So they are statutorily prohibited from doing what they have now done again. What we have today, Logan, is a letter sent from the United States Senate. It's led by Senator Lankford, Senator Sasse, and 11 other senators basically demanding answers, demanding to know why the IRS apparently violated the law and who is responsible for it. And so, you know, we see this a lot, Logan.
A lot of times it takes a dual track. It takes a FOIA effort from the outside on our part to get the information on how this happened, and it takes an inside effort inside the United States Congress. That effort is underway now, thanks to these 13 senators. But the bottom line, in my view, Logan, the IRS is again violating the law and targeting Christians. It has to stop. Absolutely.
Let me take it a step further. Yeah, and not only does it have to stop, they're already violating not only their own guidelines and their own laws, but they're violating the consent decree that the IRS voluntarily entered into in light of our litigation. And they don't get it both ways. But you know when this started? Within months of the Biden administration coming into office. When the case was settled, we had no problems with the Trump administration, obviously. But as soon as Biden's people were in there, Logan, this started.
Yeah, and of course we have a long history with this. We're going to talk about that as well when we have fought back against the IRS and won. So we'll hear from that coming up later in the show. I think we're going to actually show one of our More Than Ever specials, or actually a clip from our IRS documentary.
We'll do that way later in the show. For now, we're taking phone calls, 1-800-684-3110, and support the work of the ACLJ during our Matching Challenge at ACLJ.org. Thankful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's Matching Challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.
A $50 gift becomes $100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support.
Take part in our Matching Challenge today. Make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Only when a society can agree that the most vulnerable and voiceless deserve to be protected is there any hope for that culture to survive. And that's exactly what you are saying when you stand with the American Center for Law and Justice to defend the right to life. We've created a free, powerful publication offering a panoramic view of the ACLJ's battle for the unborn.
It's called Mission Life. It will show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, its role in the abortion industry, and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift.
Hey everybody, welcome back to the broadcast. We're talking about an issue that is front and center for us at the ACLJ and that is this whole idea that the IRS can engage in the kind of censorship, and that's what it is, that they did in 2014 and 2015 and 2013 against conservative tea party organizations. And then, even after we go to court, even after we win in court, even after we get a consent decree filed in federal court where the IRS said they'll never do this again, they're changing their policies and procedures, even after we get a monetary judgment for our clients whose rights were denied, after all of that, Joe Biden is sworn into office, six months later the IRS targets this group Christians Engaged, and they had this legend on the letter denying their exemption where they had what each thing is equal. But they actually put in there, I'm going to Harry Hutchinson on this, they actually put in there, Harry, and this is to me it's so incredible, they actually put in there that you base teachings on the Bible, and this in their view constitutes a violation of the law. The violation of the law here is, frankly, the IRS writing that letter in the first place violates the church state's establishment clause issues.
You're absolutely correct, Jay. Basically what the IRS has done is that they have violated the Constitution, they have violated statutory law, and they have violated the consent decree that they have signed. Essentially what we have in this particular case is the return of Lois Lerner with a vengeance. And basically the IRS has revealed that it believes it is morally superior, its legal analysis is superior to that of the United States Supreme Court, and it's imperative that the ACLJ and its listeners become engaged and fight back against the IRS because what has happened to Christians engaged and possibly other organizations will happen again if we don't fight back. So, you know, our friends at First Liberty, Logan, handled the actual case in getting the group to tax them status.
They did a very good job of doing that. Should have never had it happen, of course, as I've said, that was totally outrageous. But here's the issue, the IRS has to respond to our Freedom of Information Act request, Logan, on Monday. You know what I'm expecting. I'm expecting no response. Yeah, no response, or if the very rare occasion we get a response, though legally they're supposed to have to do it, it will be a jumbled mess or we found nothing, which is typically what you seem to get.
Yeah, they'll come back with or they'll ask for more time, which is the typical move they'll make. But let's go to Wes Smith on this, who's not only a retired colonel in the United States Army, I know we've been talking about Afghanistan for a lot of days here, but also as a pastor and was a chaplain in the Army. And, Wes, could you imagine the IRS actually writing a letter with that kind of language in it?
Yeah, I mean, think about it. I read the letter again this morning that the IRS wrote to Christians engaged. It is shocking. I read the signature block at the end. I wonder if Stephen Martin still has his job with the IRS, the director of religious exemptions and the IRS, but he actually criticized Christians engaged, denied their tax exempt status because they talk about sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, get this, laws versus lawlessness, freedom of speech, religious liberty, those things.
And because of that, your request is denied. I mean, there is a bias, Jay, in a lot of federal bureaucracies and certainly in the IRS against Christians and conservatives, and it's sobering. But in actuality, one has to be on guard against their own government if you're a Christian or a conservative, which, of course, is part of ACLJ's purpose to stand as a guardian of constitutional rights because they're not only violating the consent decree that we set up, they're not only violating the law, they're violating the Constitution of the United States. Let's never forget what Lois Lerner said, she was the former director of the IRS, when she was asked during a congressional hearing about what exactly happened here, and she's asked the question about what happened here when they were targeting these conservative groups.
Here's her answer. I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.
And while I would very much like to answer the committee's questions today, I've been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing. That kind of, Logan, sets it right up for exactly what we were dealing with and apparently what we're now dealing with again, but we'll find out from the IRS exactly what they were up to or at least exactly who drafted this letter, who else got this letter, and we were just notified that from Ben Sisney in our office who's handling this case, he supervises our government oversight practice, government accountability project, he said that we'll be prepared to file suit Monday if we do not get an adequate response. Yeah, so that's what you have to do here, and that's why the ACLJ work is important. You know, there are, obviously, the important part about this is great organization or organization, I don't know a ton about them, but a Christian organization was able to get their taxes and status. That's a big win, again, for our friends at First Liberty, a big win for everyone who wants to start a Christian ministry of any kind. But then you have to go, you know, we talk about the deep state, we talk about all those different topics, you have to kind of root out what caused this chaos to begin with, because people should not have to jump through hoops like this to get their tax-exempt status for your Christian organization.
A lot of people would have just taken that answer, and a lot of friends probably would have, taken that answer, packed up, and I'm sure there's a bunch of people that have. I'm sure that it's not uncommon, Dad, that a lot of people have received letters like this and just said, well, that's that. Well, Logan, you know from your own experience that, because we helped a friend of yours who got caught up in the thing for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and then another group that got caught up in it because I think they had the word liberty in there, and it was an educational project, it wasn't a Tea Party group, and then you had a friend of yours that I think was doing, I can't remember the nature of the project, but they got kind of caught up in all of this, and the IRS was just rampant with bias and animus, and it's time now, and we're taking it to the next level, glad this group got their exemption, but it should have never been that way, and fan, that is what I hope the Senate gets to. Absolutely, Jay, that's one of the reasons that we're supporting this effort in the United States Senate, because this feels exactly like it did at the beginning of that process so many years ago when the IRS was targeting all those groups. Remember, Jay, we first heard about one group that was getting targeted.
That's what we know about right now. I feel like that's the stage we're at here, but then as we dug deeper, it was suddenly five groups, and then it was 10, and then it was more than 40 that we were representing, Jay, that had been targeted by the IRS. There's no reason to believe that that's not the case, again, because apparently this is the practice inside the IRS. Jay, one of the things that we're trying to find out in this FOIA, that we're deemed an answer next Monday, if not, we'll file suit, I assume we'll probably have to, that's one of the answers we want to know. How many groups got a letter like this where you were targeting them? And one of the things that we will tell the IRS, Jay, is religious views, those are expressly permitted, regardless whether any party, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, any party opposes them or supports them.
That is not determinative. You are allowed to hold those views. I mean, but this goes, you got to look at this as a root issue, though, also with government. With everything going on in the world right now, this is what I don't understand. Why would the IRS fall back, Harry, into its previous bad actions? Very good question, and I have a number of hypotheses. One is the IRS is comprised of individuals generally who possess what might be called upper middle class beliefs, and they believe that they have the moral high ground. In other words, they are morally superior individuals, so they can look at a letter from a Christian group and they can decide, based on their own authority, contrary to the U.S. Constitution, contrary to statutory law, contrary to consent agreements, that a particular organization should be denied tax-exempt status that they are entitled to. And so I think at the end of the day, one of the things we need to think about is a strategy for rooting out those individuals and making sure that those individuals who are willing to put their own moral superiority above the United States Constitution, that they pay a price, that they are either terminated, fired, removed, because otherwise we should expect this process to continue under the Biden administration.
And so I guess the last point I would make is that the Biden administration, like the Obama administration, has empowered these individuals to act on their moral superiority, and that, I think, is the quintessential issue. All right, we'll be back with more on secular. I want to take some of your phone calls as well. Give me a call, 1-800-684-3110. If you have questions related to this or other IRS-related topics, I think that's an interesting thing to bring up. We have some experts here in the room.
So if you have any questions, give us a call, 1-800-684-3110. Also, we are in the middle, closer to the end, of the matching challenge for the month of August. I can't believe August is halfway over and we could use your support. Because for the month of August, all donations that are made are effectively doubled. What's that mean? That means there's somebody, a group of other ACLJ members who said, hey, whatever pledges come in, we will pledge that and match it. So if you give $10 to someone on the other end, it's going to make that $20.
So if you give $200, someone's going to make it $400, and so on and so on, at any number. So right now, all donations effectively doubled during this matching challenge. You can donate straight at ACLJ.org.
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Again, give us a call, 1-800-684-3110. Like, share, and subscribe! We want to show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, the play on parenthood's role in the abortion industry, and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. Whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their faith, uncovering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy, and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress, the ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.
For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's Matching Challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.
A $50 gift becomes $100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support. Take part in our Matching Challenge today. Make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Hey, welcome back to the broadcast, everyone.
We are taking your calls at 800-684-3110. We're talking about this whole IRS issue as it relates to targeting. That's what it is again. Logan, when I think about this, I think it's important to put everybody into a perspective that we've been battling this out and have won in federal court for years, but they're back at it again. The reason we started the More Than Ever campaign is to explain to those of you who joined with us the last number of years, to show you the work that we can get done, even if you think that there's a less than friendly administration to your beliefs or to your organizations, that we can still fight back. We can still get responses. There's still people who will make sure that people are held accountable, and the IRS is held accountable and organizations like that. So we're going to actually play at the end of the show, so in about a half an hour, a piece from our documentary about specifically the targeting of conservative Tea Party-style groups during that era and how we're able to resolve those cases, because it does seem, as it does with the Middle East and Israel, as it does with Afghanistan, as it does with a lot of these topics. History is repeating itself in unfortunate ways right now, and, Dad, it just seems like we're just time traveling back. We have to show that still work can be done.
We don't just take an L and continue on. No, I think the reality is, in this particular case, Logan, I think the reality is we're going to probably be back in federal court Monday or Tuesday. And we've already won the issue, but that tells you, when you say Now More Than Ever or More Than Ever campaign, you're not kidding, because you have to have the ability to keep coming back, because just with the change of administration, they have ignored a federal decree that they entered into. The Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service, has ignored a decree that they themselves entered into. Wes, it's as if they think they can get away with this with impunity, like nothing's going to happen.
Yeah, I think they actually believe that they can. In the United States of America, constitutional rights, religious freedom, the free exercise of religion, these are givens. At least they're supposed to be givens in the United States, and apparently not so to the Internal Revenue Service. I'm amazed. I went over that list from that letter to Christians engaged from the IRS.
But think about it, Jay. These are red flags for the Internal Revenue Service. If this is in your material, your teaching, your thoughts, these are red flags. Laws versus lawlessness, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, government, business ethics, human trafficking, the relationship between the United States and Israel. If those things are in your materials to the IRS, that is a red flag, and you run the risk of losing your tax-exempt status.
That is absolutely crazy. And when you think about it, it is a violation of the Constitution, which is another way of saying it's un-American. And Harry, I want to talk to you about that because it seems like when we did the last set of these IRS cases, it was words like Tea Party and Patriots and September 11th or September 12th Project. Those were the buzzwords. And now, as culture has shifted, the buzzwords are now really related to people's faith and their Christian faith and how they will now associate that with politics. Even though for a lot of Christians, I'd say a mass majority of them, those two things, though your faith obviously inspires your political beliefs, likely, they're not necessarily one and the same. I think you're precisely correct, but I also think this attack on Christians is consistent with what individuals who now work for the IRS have been taught in schools. So essentially, they have been taught hostility to traditional faiths.
They don't mind new and perhaps bizarre faiths, but if it's a traditional faith, they are opposed to it because that may mean that you support traditional values, that you are politically conservative, that you believe in the nuclear family or whatever. And many of these individuals have been taught that those things are basically opposed to moral progress. Inherently wrong.
Yes, inherently wrong. And so I think at the end of the day, that is a problem. And obviously, we can't sort out all of the mistakes made in the education of these individuals. But what we need to do is to ensure that there are indeed consequences. And one way of ensuring that there are consequences is to go to court and to force the IRS to comply with the Constitution, to comply with statutory law, to comply with a consent agreement. Essentially, the IRS has engaged in un-American activities, and they're now accusing Christian groups of being un-American.
It's a world that has been turned upside down. And you can get a rubber stamp and say, okay, finally, this organization, because they made some noise, gets approved. But dad, you have to go to the root and figure out who's making these calls. I mean, you would know what level of staffer is making the call, is making this email, who's saying these things, who's making the decision. And are these people, do they know what they're talking about? Well, you know, I work for the IRS, as you were just alluding to, and my first job out of law school 40 years ago, more than that now, was with the Department of the Treasury, Office of Chief Counsel, Internal Revenue Service. The IRS was our client. And these are normally made by an agent. But you look at that letter, that had to be reviewed by what's called a group manager. But when you look at the letter that was sent to Christians engaged, I cannot believe it.
We're going to find out. I cannot believe, Logan, this was decided by a tax-exempt field agent to write something like that. But you said something very, very important, and that is this. It has gone from targeting conservative, liberty, you know, patriot, those kind of names, 9-11, to now Christian organizations. But the IRS willingly put in its letter, willingly wrote in the letter, the information about worldview, supporting Israel, the Bible. I mean, I think about this fan, and I know why the Senate's engaging. Unfortunately, they're not going to, I'm sure the Democrats will not allow hearings on this. But it is outrageous that the IRS tried this. What can we likely expect from the Senate side?
Well, this list is the new bolo list. It really is, Jay, and by the way, it's signed essentially by the same person filling Lois Lerner's role. So I think you're correct that it's being decided at the highest level. I think the Senate is going to stay on this, Jay. I think you're actually going to see probably some informal minority hearings or roundtables on it. Already been involved in some discussions on that.
I think there's going to be more developments down the line on that. But here's one of the things that I'm concerned about, and I think both the House and the Senate are going to have to look at, Jay. I'm actually concerned that this is an effort that was actually initiated inside Congress. We talked about this several weeks ago when Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was actually asking the IRS to look at the tax-exempt status of people who supported Israel and supported those policies. Well, if you look at this letter, Jay, I mean, Wes went through some of the lists, but one of the things specifically mentioned, and you said this, is Israel relations. So one of the things that I want to find out during this FOIA is was the IRS taking their cues from Rashida Tlaib and others in Congress who asked them to make support for Israel a stipulation for tax-exempt status?
Of course they have no grounds to, Jay, but maybe that's where this originated. But you know what's interesting here, Logan, I know we're running out of time for this half hour, but what's interesting here is this shows the ACLJ on all of its fronts. Government affairs, policy, litigation, and of course getting the information out.
All of that in this one case encapsulates all the very different dimensions of the American Center for Law and Justice. That's why we created the More Than Ever campaign when we knew what this year would hold. And look, I think a lot of people predicted, sadly predicted a lot of these things happening, whether it's the targeting of Christians, whether it's the chaos in the Middle East, the chaos in Afghanistan.
These are not shocking. My wife said, she's like, I feel like you guys had this conversation with us two years ago, that this is very likely how things could have gone. And specifically six months ago, very likely how this could have gone. So no shock to us at the ACLJ, and we've been fighting these fights for over 30 years. We can't do that without the support of the ACLJ members. Remember, if you have a legal need, you can obviously go get legal help from our organization, ACLJ.org at no cost to you, but that does mean we need people like you to support the work of the ACLJ financially during this matching challenge.
Again, $10 effectively becomes $20 to the great members. You can do that at ACLJ.org. We'll be back with the second half hour of Jay Sekulow.
We'll be back after this. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's matching challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20. A $50 gift becomes $100. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family.
Call a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Keeping you informed and engaged, now more than ever, this is Sekulow. And now your host, Jay Sekulow.
Hey, welcome back to the second half hour of the broadcast. And I will tell you that we're talking about a topic that I'm very concerned about because it appears the government is at it again. This time, of course, it involves a group called Christians Engaged. They ended up getting their tax exempt status when our friend Kelly Shackelford, his group, was able to get their exemption. But it violated a decree that we got from the IRS where there was a change of policy so that they could not discriminate against conservative groups or pro-life groups or Christian groups. But they ignored it. And they wrote this ridiculous letter from the IRS to Christians Engaged complaining about their biblical worldview, that they used the Bible as a reference. I mean, think about that for a moment, folks, that they actually put that in writing. They did then take it a step further.
And this is to me is that they had a legend of the initials of what each thing meant. And the D was talking not about Democrats, but about Republicans. I mean, it was so ridiculous. It's laughable, except that they actually did it.
And that's the problem with this. The government cannot get away with this. First of all, they're violating their own statutory law. They're violating their own consent decree that they entered into and paid monetary damages over. So this all happened because the IRS got sued in two different courts by us and ended up losing. The IRS lost both and consented actually to a decree to change it. And we've had no problems during the entire Trump administration with this. And then, of course, the new administration comes in and literally within months it starts all over again. So you ask yourself what in the world got them thinking this was something that that was a good idea.
But I think it goes to the arrogance. And now the Senate is willing to get involved in here, Logan. Hey, we actually have an interesting call. I think before we head off, we should take this call from Rayburn on Line 1.
You're on the air. Go ahead. Yes, we have an application for a 501c3 that was submitted in November of 2020. We are not a church, but we are a ministry with a stated purpose that is biblical.
And quite frankly, it is to assemble people to hear, learn, and fear God and observe and do His word. Our application has not been approved. We were told it has been assigned to an agent. They sent back all kinds of things relating to how we were going to use the property, what we were using it for. We have responded to our attorney. I have an attorney that's done all this work. We have over $5,000 already in this, and it's not being approved.
Or at least it hasn't been rejected, I should say, but we do not have a response. Dad, I think that's sort of a common problem that a lot of people have is, as most government agencies are, not exactly quick to get the answers. They're not quick. They're not quick.
They don't want to know. Some of our clients waited a year for a response when they submitted information. But if your lawyer needs help, feel free to get them in contact with us, and we'll take a look at it and see if it's something within our scope. But again, this is the problem, and this is why we do the broadcast.
And I said this at the end of the last segment. This shows you all of the avenues, all of the aspects of what the ACLJ does. Fans working on it on Capitol Hill. We've got lawyers litigating it in court.
Our policy people are writing up policies, and then we're able to broadcast to the entire world about these issues. So this enables you to see the scope and nature of the entire work of the ACLJ. Absolutely, and Rayburn, if you're listening or anyone else who needs legal help or have similar situations or just questions, and if it's within our scope, go to ACLJ.org. There's a help button. Get help. Get legal help. You'll find it, or just directly.
ACLJ.org slash help. That is why the organization exists, is to be there for you when you need us. Again, when it's within a religious freedom scope. So take a look at that.
Go to the website and get engaged. All right, we'll be back with more on secular. We'd love to take more calls. That was a great call.
I think a lot of people have similar issues and just don't know what to do. And yes, the IRS tends to move slow, even when they are specifically calling out Christian groups for simply saying that's what they believe. All right. 1-800-684-3110 to be on the air. Go to ACLJ.org right now to support the work of the ACLJ during this matching challenge. Later on in the show, we're going to play you a segment from our documentary, Targeting Us, which is specifically about the IRS and when we took the Tea Party cases to court in one.
You'll hear that later on in the show. We'll be right back with more on secular. The ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support. For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's matching challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.
A $50 gift becomes $100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support.
Take part in our matching challenge today. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Only when a society can agree that the most vulnerable and voiceless deserve to be protected is there any hope for that culture to survive. And that's exactly what you are saying when you stand with the American Center for Law and Justice to defend the right to life. We've created a free, powerful publication offering a panoramic view of the ACLJ's battle for the unborn.
It's called Mission Life. It will show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, play on parenthood's role in the abortion industry, and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift.
Welcome back to Secular. We're currently trying to screen through a number of your calls, so if you're on hold, just wait a moment. We're trying to get to you.
I'd love to take some more calls. And I'd love to go to Thanh also, who is in Washington, D.C. Thanh, I think people feel defeated when they get letters like this from the IRS. But the reason you're there in Washington, the reason that there is a full headquarters there right across the street and right on Capitol Hill, you can be there and be there to speak up for people who need it.
Yeah, I think I would say a couple of things on that front, Logan. First of all, when we fought back, the organizations won. I mean, this organization got their tax exempt status. Others that we represented during the last targeting eventually won and got this consent decree. But look, that just sets the stage for us continuing to have to battle. And I'll tell you, there's a legislative battle coming as well. Your dad mentioned how this also runs counter to statutory law that was passed that prohibits this kind of targeting.
That's definitely true, Logan. But one of the reasons that I fear the IRS might be trying to drag this out and sort of run the clock on it is because there is an effort underway in the United States Congress right now to specifically repeal that statute, to make this permitted under the law. Again, it's part of H.R.1 and S.1. It's the For the People Act. It's a big voting rights bill. But there's a provision in that bill, Logan, that would say that the Be on the Lookout lists are allowed again.
It would repeal that Lois Lerner rule. So if we can't act quickly, if we can't get the answers, and if we can't right the wrongs that are already being happening, it's quite possible the United States Senate might try to allow this statutorily again. So you've got to fight this on all tracks.
You've got to go back to court. You've got to tell the stories over the airwaves. And Logan, you've got to tell the truth about what's happening in the House and Senate right now. That is a particularly problematic provision in H.R.1 and S.1. Yeah, there's absolutely people who are stepping up in the Senate, which is nice to hear. There are people who are supportive and are making sure there is some balance. It feels like, as of now, I know there's certainly some checks and balances, but it's getting out of hand.
It's definitely out of hand. And look, this is one of the reasons we're so grateful for this letter. Thirteen members of the United States Senate, the IRS, will have to respond to them. They will have to respond to our FOIA.
And if they don't, we'll go to court next week. But they're going to have to respond to the United States Senate, too. Let me read just one sentence from this letter, Logan, that I think people need to hear.
This is the letter led by Senator Lankford and Senator Sasse, signed by 11 other senators. It says, an organization's particular religious character, affiliation, or exercise should have no bearing on the IRS's determination of such organization's qualification for tax-exempt status. It is not the role of the IRS or any other government agency to deny an otherwise available public benefit to an organization on account of its religious status.
Of course, Logan, that is absolutely correct. And yet, if you read the Christian's Engage letter, they specifically say, the reason your tax-exempt status is being denied initially is because of your religious beliefs. And that's maybe one of the hardest things to actually read is because you can't believe they would put this in writing. And maybe, Harry, you could kind of address this. For people who don't know, what does this process look like?
Not only the ridiculousness of that statement, but the process of what we do now. We file for, we go for FOIA. They have, Freedom of Information Act requests. They have to respond.
Part of the, part of the deal. It's just how they respond can, much like the person who had the delayed response, sometimes isn't the way you'd like. They are under an affirmative legal obligation to respond to our FOIA requests, but often what they do is engage in a process of deflection. So they argue that there's some exception to their duty to respond.
Exception, protections, something. And then we go to court, and then a court has to step in and order them to respond. But even when they indeed respond, at least initially, they often respond with redacted information.
So it's very unclear as to whether they have indeed complied with our request. And then you have to again go back to court. So I think at the end of the day, though, we had a preview of this under the Obama administration. And basically during the Obama administration, they unleashed anti-Christian hatred and hostility.
But now under the Biden administration, that hostility is still there, but it's even more out in the open. So you think about considering future litigation. Why would you put in a letter that you are denying an application for a religious group?
Why? Because they read the Bible. They pray. Are they doing this for Islamic charitable organizations? The answer, I think, is no.
Probably no. So what we have, in my view, is anti-religious discrimination disfavoring Christian organizations. And we must be eternally vigilant on the IRS and their bureaucrats. And I don't think there'll be anyone complaining about that, that we are going after the IRS once again. I think there'll be a lot of people pretty excited about that. Not exactly everyone's favorite branch there.
Wes. As crazy as it sounds, if you put it in layman's language, this group asks for what amounts to a religious exemption. And the IRS says, we can't give you religious exemption because you're religious. Because you're religious.
Right. One of the reasons why you can be tax-exempt is if your organization is based on not just a church, like here at the ACLJ. You are religiously centered. However, as you said, so what does that mean now for Western religions, if you will? Like I said, if you're not this sort of obscure religion that no one's ever heard of, if you're one of the major ones, sure. You can probably pick apart each religion, major religion, and say the majority of voters that are – and you don't even want to say that. Say the majority of maybe the more passionate evangelicals. Sure, you could say maybe that's a more conservative group. And you could say, you know, for Reform Judaism, that's more liberal of a group, so they shouldn't – it starts to get very sticky, very hairy, very quickly when you start saying it's because of your specific religious beliefs. Because those religious impediments may inform your political decision. And as we know, plenty of people – I know plenty of people who are devoutly Christians, doubly religious, and who are very liberal. Yeah, very left-wing. Left-wing, yeah. That's part of the free exercise.
It's not one-size-fits-all just because it's a Christian organization. Yeah, exactly. What we're looking at, though, is bureaucratic bias. And here's the thing about agencies like the Internal Revenue Service. You know, administrations come and go. Elected officials come and go. There are career bureaucrats working at these bureaucracies.
I worked at the Pentagon for three years. They're there as well. But in the IRS, these same staff people that did all of the shenanigans when Lois Lerner was there, most of them are still there. It's not like they went anywhere. They were quiet for a few years. They were quiet. They had an administration – Got caught. Now they're being quiet.
Yeah, called them check, yeah. But some of the same staff people that look at these kinds of issues have never left, and so the bureaucratic bias has not gone away, which is why it's a constant challenge to be vigilant. Because their bias is still there. The same people are still there, which is why Christians Engaged had to deal with this.
Than, I would be willing to bet there are plenty of people who are listening right now, whether you're watching on a replay or live or whatever, or know somebody who this kind of targeting has happened to, and they simply have just caved. We talked about that and said, not caved. They got a letter from the government saying, we're not approving your tax exempt status.
And they said, well, I guess that's that. But we need to make sure the word is out there. We spread news about this case, as well as getting information from what's going on inside, because we know there are others like it likely. You know, honestly, Logan, I think this is one of the reasons that bureaucracies engage in this kind of targeting is just simply to chill the activity, to put the political activity on the sideline. A lot of times the harm is actually in the delay or the speech that doesn't happen. And look, I mean, Wes makes a great point, as does everybody on the panel on that conversation, whether or not I agree with someone's political views or their religious views, I mean, those are specifically and importantly allowed. And look, even the ones that I disagree with, those are eligible for tax exempt status, and the IRS has no business using them as a barometer to make that determination. That's what these senators are saying, Logan.
They want to know who made the determination that that was a proper application, a proper consideration to make. And Logan, we saw it happen so many times before, and the consent decree that we got, this is something I really want to leave in people's minds, is specifically found that the IRS had engaged in wrong. So a lot of people remember what Lois Lerner said, that she didn't do anything wrong. Logan, the court found and decreed that she indeed had. Now, if there are people still there with that kind of bias, engaging in the same exact targeting, the consent decree that we won, Logan, it applies to them still today.
Absolutely. We're going to make sure that everyone's voice is heard in this situation. You can do that by supporting the work of the ACLJ and signing the petition right now that's specifically about the IRS led under the current administration targeting Christians. I encourage you to go to ACLJ.org, not only sign that petition, read the great content that's put out, watch the great contents put out each and every day. I mean, it is an incredible resource for anyone who wants to get engaged on issues that may not be the number one topic on TV. But we are there to make sure that those are covered and issues like this, things that seem inherently maybe small to a lot of people. But we know there are thousands and thousands of people that this hurts or helps, and we're there with the ACLJ to support you.
Go to ACLJ.org, not only make your donation during this matching challenge, check out the resources, the free resources that we provide. Again, from incredible voices like the ones you've heard today. Than, Wes, Harry, my dad, incredible voices like Pompeo, so many great people. Rick Grinnell, you can have a whole list.
I mean, there are tons of people on that list. CCI or all the list of incredible attorneys and staff here at the ACLJ who write great content to keep you informed and engaged just like the open says and support that work of the ACLJ. Your donation is effectively doubled at ACLJ.org.
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Welcome back to Sekulow. I want to go quickly to a segment from our film specifically about targeting called Targeting Us. It was about a specific group of Tea Party and conservative groups that were targeted simply because of their names. Some of them weren't even Tea Party or conservative groups. They just had names like Liberty, Patriot, 9-11, stuff like that. They were targeted for that.
So we're seeing that same ugly head get reared again. If you are one of those people who's having that happen for your conservative or Christian organization, just like we heard from this specific organization, they just, because they were Christians, because they believed in biblical values and because they wanted, they immediately said, no, this is political, denied. We want to be there for you at the ACLJ.
So go to ACLJ.org slash help. Let's take a look from a segment from Targeting Us. Ms. Lerner, why would you say Tea Party cases were very dangerous?
On the advice of my counsel, I respectfully exercised my fifth amendment right and declined to answer that question. They knew they were breaking the law. They knew they were violating our rights. There were some boneheaded decisions out of a local office. But no mass corruption. Not even mass corruption. Not even a smidgen of corruption. It was the tip of the iceberg. It was far worse than even we expected.
The IRS has finally released a list of political groups it has scrutinized. It was something that no one could believe our government was even capable of doing. They have way too much power and no accountability. Never before has the federal government tried to muzzle everyday Americans solely because of their political view.
That is as wrong as it gets. Lois Lerner knew what was coming and it wasn't going to be pretty. We were fighting the United States of America at this point. We accidentally stumbled into the corruption that is going to be and is the largest scandal in American history. The 501c4 organization gets tax exempt status in the U.S. because it promotes something related to the social welfare. It's something that's happening in your local community or in the area you live in, so it's a group of citizens. Ultimately it's about an issue, basically.
It can be one issue, it can be a set of issues that you come together to work on and agree upon. It's not specifically for politics, but certainly of course when you deal with issues that affect a community, ultimately there's some politics that comes into play. But it uniquely lays out how you do this without becoming a political action committee, without keeping that tax exempt status. You go to the IRS and say, we want this status, so we will submit voluntarily to your oversight IRS.
We will abide by the rules, we will abide by the reporting requirements necessary so that we get this status as a tax exempt organization. It was unbelievably disturbing what the IRS had sent out in these questionnaires to these groups. Groups that they knew were being led by private individuals without a lot of experience in politics.
They were small, they knew that from their initial applications. So they would do the initial 501c3 or 501c4 application. Then they received these, when I talk about these unbelievably disturbing questions, they got these follow-ups. And we realized there was a pattern of these follow-ups asking very invasive information that was unconstitutional to be inquiring about to the American people. Speakers lists, the actual speeches themselves, contents of prayers at meetings, back door access to their website.
Not just what is your website, but we want a password to get into the back door of your website and be able to see what's going on internally as well. So not the normal questionnaire, they already filled that information out. It was clearly coordinated, targeted, and they were trying to silence a voice. They were bullying people into giving up and walking away. The report is coming out this week, the Inspector General report, and it has outrageous conclusions about how organizations seeking tax-exempt status were handled. It shows that not only did Tea Party groups get more scrutiny, but so did a host of other conservative groups that dared to criticize government spending and discuss the national debt. I have obtained a soon-to-be-released investigative report that shows that the IRS started targeting Tea Party groups more than three years ago, and that among the criteria they used was to target groups that were critical of the way the country is being run. If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous. These criteria were inappropriate in that they did not focus on tax-exempt laws and treasury regulations.
They remained in effect for approximately 18 months. The IRS is saying, we're sorry, we made mistakes, and they were not politically motivated. They blame this all on low-level employees. But Tea Party leaders, they're not buying it. They rejected the apology and demanded the resignation of everyone involved at the IRS. About 75 groups were flagged by the IRS for further review for one reason. Their applications for tax-exempt status contained the words Tea Party or Patriot. What the Internal Revenue Service had done was to have created a list, a be-on-the-lookout list, that really said to its agents in the Exempt Organizations Unit, if you see an organization that has certain buzzwords or words in it that would suggest they are conservative in their political outlook or in their political message, we want you to basically give them a hard time in getting tax-exempt status. Make them answer a lot of hard questions.
Make them answer questions that other organizations on the political left don't have to answer. And just make it tough on them to get tax-exempt status so we can string it out. There was a serious systematic problem within the IRS that allowed this issue to percolate all the way to the top.
Lois Lerner was the head of the Tax-Exemplary Organization. You had Maine Treasury. There were concerns that it reached into the White House. And the President, President Obama, dismissed this as inconsequential. But ultimately, the way to handle this was court. You had to be in court to get this resolved. The IRS, they say sometimes late than ever, better late than ever, now formally apologizing to Tea Party groups over this Obama-era targeting they said those groups were saying was going on. It's not just that they're acknowledging the wrongdoing. They've taken action that'll be codified in a court order next week. And they've agreed that it's wrong to apply U.S. laws against any individual based upon their name, the positions that they hold, provided they're lawful positions, which ours of course were, the issues that we espouse, or our associations or even perceived associations.
That's the first point. The second point is that the government has agreed that their actions, whatever they take in this process, must be even-handed and never based upon the applicant's name, their political viewpoint or associations or perceived associations. So the end result was the IRS did the right thing by resolving the case with an injunction that mandated a complete change of the IRS nonprofit tax-exempt work as it relates to issue advocacy organizations. It's one of the most significant wins in the ACLJ's history, to take on the IRS and win. In the future, if any group feels like they're being targeted, ever, they can go to federal court and bring our case that the judge ruled and join the IRS and say, you can't do this anymore. And they can say, they're targeting me because of my politics and you've got to stop them. And that's not going to take five years. That's going to take five minutes.
That's a victory because it protects our rights going forward. All right, that is going to do it for today on Psych Hilo. I appreciate that was, again, a segment from our film targeting us. You can watch that whole film, by the way, on ACLJfilms.com. You can find it there, as well as many of our other movies we put out over the years. Again, you can find that at ACLJfilms.com or on the ACLJ app. I believe it's available as well. If you have Roku or any of those Apple devices, you can find that on the ACLJ app. Thank you so much for listening today.
We'll be back tomorrow with another edition of Psych Hilo. In the meantime, visit ACLJ.org. Donate, like, subscribe, share. All of it helps. All of it's important to get the word out.
Until next time, we'll talk to you tomorrow. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's matching challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20. A $50 gift becomes $100. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-14 18:09:44 / 2023-09-14 18:32:51 / 23