Normalcy bias is a wicked thing.
After an immoral policy has been in place for years, the victims of normalcy bias don’t know that there used to be a different, non-governmental, way to do something. In turn, many of those same normalcy bias victims attack those who actually speak up against the pernicious government mode of operations, because they think the status quo is “the way it works.”
So it’s not surprising to see that very few media outlets are paying attention to the incredible “ruling” the Internal Revenue “Service” just made in its denial of tax-exempt status to Christians Engaged, a Texas-based Christian non-profit that, as its legal reps explain, “exists to educate and empower everyday Christians to pray for our nation and elected officials, vote, and be civically engaged.”
Christians Engaged opted to acquire legal representation from First Liberty, a Texas-based law firm specializing in battles against government attacks on fundamental freedom, and, together, they issued a press release explaining the recent IRS “decision,” offering, in part:
In May 2021, the IRS denied Christians Engaged’s application to be recognized as a tax-exempt nonprofit because of its education of ‘believers on national issues that are central to their belief in the Bible as the inerrant [Word of God],’ including ‘the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and [sic] borders and immigration, [and] U.S. and Israel relations.’
Skeptics might wonder if First Liberty is engaging in hyperbole or is unfairly supporting its argument through lack of context, but this is not the case, and in order to grasp the solidity of Christians Engaged’s argument and get to the normalcy bias problem at the heart of this IRS attack, it’s key to understand how so-called “501-C-3” tax exempt status works.
The primary facet of such status – and the one that many Americans already know -- is that the IRS will allow “tax-exempt, 501-C-3” status as long as the organization does not engage in the promotion or denigration of a specific political candidate. Such “political activism” is off limits for charitable “501-C-3” non-profits.
But the IRS forces charitable groups to jump through many more hoops before it will stop its tax shakedown.
For example, as Liberty First notes in its response letter to the IRS after the Internal Revenue “Service” shot down the designation of “tax exempt,” a group must show in its formative by-laws that it passes the so-called “organizational” test. At this level, the group must include in its rules certain words and phrases dictated by the IRS. Then, it must pass the IRS’s “operational” test, to show that it never strays from the path dictated by the great thieves in DC.
Notes Liberty First:
26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) exempts from taxation:
Corporations . . . organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes . . . no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in
subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.
Christians Engaged never “engaged” in the endorsement of any candidate, nor did its members engage in any call NOT to vote for a candidate.
It provided information on Bible verses, Christian ethics, general political and historical themes, and policy proposals.
Somehow, the IRS interpreted this activity as “Republican.”
And if Christians Engaged happens to support Israel’s position on X or Y issue, that, somehow, is “Republican.”
That might come as a surprise to Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who in 2017 pushed (and in 2019 got passed in a watered-down version) frighteningly unconstitutional legislation to make boycotting Israeli corporations a federal felony (the 2019 version simply allowed states and localities to “divest” from companies engaging in boycotts of Israel) even as the US government engages in unconstitutional subsidization of that foreign government and hands BILLIONS to many other governments, worldwide.
But, remember, it’s only Republicans who shower cash and support on Israel. And any group that supports Israel must be pushing for Republicans to win elections.
That’s the IRS logic, if one wants to use such a term.
And any conversation about the “lesser of two evils” – those being political parties, as implied by the IRS in its decision – is, somehow, an attempt to support or defeat a specific candidate.
As Liberty First observes:
(B)y finding that Christians Engaged does not meet the operational test, (IRS) Director Martin errs in three ways: 1) he invents a nonexistent requirement that exempt organizations be neutral on public policy issues; 2) he incorrectly concludes that Christians Engaged primarily serves private, nonexempt purposes rather than public, exempt purposes because he thinks its beliefs overlap with the Republican Party’s policy positions; and 3) he violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech, and Free Exercise, and Establishment clauses by engaging in both viewpoint discrimination and religious discrimination.
Furthermore, First Liberty offers:
Director Martin improperly interprets the requirement that an exempt organization not intervene for or against any candidate for public office as requiring neutrality on public policy issues. While exempt organizations must maintain neutrality with respect to political campaigns,26, they do not have to maintain strict neutrality on controversial public policy issues. See 26 C.F.R. § 1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(2) ('The fact that an organization, in carrying out its primary purpose, advocates social or civic changes or presents opinion on controversial issues with the intention of molding public opinion or creating public sentiment to an acceptance of its views does not preclude such organization from qualifying under section 501(c)(3) . . . .'); Internal Revenue Service, Compliance Guide for 501(c)(3) Public Charities at 5 ('Some Section 501(c)(3) organizations take positions on public policy issues, including issues that divide candidates in an election for public office.').
All are excellent points. During the 1960s, proponents of racial equality under the law often met in churches, rallying to push for legal change. The policy agenda of the meetings might be different for many of todays churches, but the fact remains that the people entering them, and the folks running them, have the right to criticize or advocate for political policies.
The problem is that people are not seeing the forest for the specific trees here.
The problem is that the IRS is an unethical construct, assuming that it can take people’s money -- as if the money doesn’t belong to those people in the first place -- and assuming that it can place a-priori limits on those whom the feds might “allow” to keep their cash.
Arguing about whether a group sufficiently conformed to the IRS “rules” to operate unmolested assumes that politicians and bureaucrats have a morel prerogative to take peoples’ money in the first place.
No one should have to apply for “corporate status” and follow government rules in order to be left alone. Those are gangland tactics employed by mafias.
With this Biden IRS decision saying that Christians Engaged cannot operate without handing over protection money to the IRS mob, the thugs not only overlook their own so-called “rules,” they show us the underlying problem of normalcy bias.
No one should think that trying to conform to the demands of the mob is “normal.”