The IRS and the Obama administration are coming under fire for targeting conservative groups — but a new report indicates at least one pro-life group faced discrimination as well.
The Internal Revenue Service has issued an apology to conservative groups that it targeted in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election. The move is seen by many conservatives as the Obama administration doing post-election damage control after infringing on the rights of citizens groups.
But a new WorldNetDaily report has more on how the federal agency targeted pro-lifers:
Shinn launched Cherish Life Ministries, a separate organization, to offer help to a coalition of churches that supports mothers struggling with unexpected pregnancies, promotes abstinence and advocates for an end to abortion in the community, state and nation.
“Our goal is to assist churches, organize and support a life ministry in defense of life and help function as an outreach to people struggling with unwanted pregnancies in the local community,” the site states.
Education materials are offered.
But Shinn said the IRS contacted him regarding his application for nonprofit status, and was told he didn’t qualify.
“The representative was telling me I had to provide information on all aspects of abortion, I couldn’t just educate the church from the pro-life perspective,” he said. “Every time I pressed her on this issue and asked her to clarify her position, she would state that it wasn’t what she was saying, and then, she would repeat it almost the same way.”
The IRS agent did not respond to a WND request for comment on the ministry’s position.
But Shinn said he was accused of setting up a political organization.
“I asked her why she said we were political organization and she said it was because we had said in our application that we did less than 5 percent political activity. I explained to her that this was what was stated in the application and all we were doing was acknowledging that we were doing less than 5 percent political activity,” he said.
He said the woman then accused him of having links to political activity on his website, even though he said he did not.
“She told me … they were going to deny my application,” he told WND. “She did get nervous though in the end when I pressed her that I wanted specific information about why I had to educate from a pro-abortion perspective not just pro-life. I explained to her that the Pro-Life Action League even has pro-life in their title and they certainly don’t teach pro-abortion topics and they are still 501(c)(3). I also told her that Planned Parenthood does not teach about pro-life issues yet they are also still a 501(c)(3).”
He also told WND that the IRS had rewritten his proposed bylaws “to paint our organization as a political organization. I couldn’t believe they took it upon themselves to do that,” he told WND.
The result is that the IRS gave him 90 days “to prove that we are not involved in political issues at all.”
The Internal Revenue Service was also targeting a pro-life Iowa group that acts in part as a watchdog over the Planned Parenthood abortion business. It was refusing to grant nonprofit tax status to the Coalition for Life of Iowa unless it agreed to limit its “picketing” and “protesting” of Planned Parenthood.
In papers to the group, the IRS questioned the “educational” nature of the Coalition’s materials, prayer meetings, talks and other pro-life activities.
Responding to what it considered threats, attorneys with the Thomas More Society in Chicago came to the defense of the organization. In their response, TMS attorneys told the IRS that it is in danger of violating the First Amendment and that the request for tax exemption should be promptly granted.
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Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Society, told LifeNews.com that the repeated questioning of the Coalition suggests the IRS may be denying or delaying tax-exempt status to an eligible organization based solely upon its religious affiliation and speech.
“The IRS not only erroneously forbade the Coalition for Life of Iowa from engaging in ‘advocacy’ as a section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; they also never gave any explanation as to why their request was relevant,” he said.
He told LifeNews.com: “The Coalition has clearly and truthfully stated that all its activities fall in line with IRS guidelines. The IRS is protecting Parenthood and harassing the Coalition for Life of Iowa.”
Thomas More attorneys verified in their response to the IRS that the Coalition for Life of Iowa has never engaged in any disruptive, violent or threatening action. Its activities, such as prayer meetings and events held to educate the public about sanctity of life issues, have been peaceful.
The group eventually received its nonprofit tax status.