A non-profit Christian group is challenging the Internal Revenue Service after being denied tax-exempt status. Christians Engaged is based out of Garland, Texas and is a self-described educational, Christian, and non-partisan group with three main goals:
“To awaken, motivate, and empower ordinary believers in Jesus Christ to: pray for our nation and our elected officials regularly, vote in every election to impact our culture, and engage our hearts in some forms of political education or activism for the furtherance of our nation.”
In late 2019 the non-profit applied to become a 501 (c)(3) but on May 18, 2021, they received a rejection letter from Exempt organizations Director Stephen A. Martin saying the group “engage[s] in prohibited political campaign intervention” and “operate[s] for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the [Republican] party.”
The non-profit stated in its appeal letter it works to show Christians how to “civically engage as part of their religious practice” but does not promote a specific party or candidates or earn money or utilize the money for political causes.
Nonetheless, Martin alleged in his letter that the group does not meet requirements for tax exemption because biblical causes tend to favor the Republican Party:
“Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations. The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican Party] and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3).”
The First Liberty Institute is representing Christians Engaged and has sent an appeal letter to the IRS on June 16, saying Martin’s decision mischaracterizes the nature of the non-profit and infringes on first amendment liberties.