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FFC Demands Release of Secret IRS Agreement Threatening Rights of Churches and Christians

Faith & Freedom Coalition today demanded the release of a secret legal agreement between the Internal Revenue Service and a radical atheist organization that portends increased scrutiny and harassment of churches and Christians, potentially infringing upon their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association. The legal agreement, reached by the IRS and the Justice Department to settle a lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2012, was trumpeted by that organization as a victory in its ongoing effort to monitor and prosecute churches.  The settlement, reached on July 17 in federal court, has not been released to the public.  Nor has the IRS stated what protocols or provisions it agreed to in order to enhance its tax enforcement of churches. “Given the history of the IRS in harassing, persecuting and infringing on the First Amendment rights of Christians and other people of faith, this is a deeply disturbing development,” said Ralph Reed, chairman of Faith & Freedom Coalition.  “For the Christian community to be targeted for increased enforcement power and the threat of loss of tax-exempt status by this scandal-plagued agency defies logic, common sense, and any sound legal basis.” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt last week also sent letters to the IRS and DOJ seeking copies of the legal agreement, correspondence between the government and the Freedom From Religious Foundation, and other internal documents.  Other state Attorneys General have raised similar concerns. Faith & Freedom undertook a grassroots campaign earlier this year that generated over 71,000 public comments by its members and activists opposing proposed IRS regulations restricting the voter education activities of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.  The IRS temporarily withdrew the regulations after being deluged by a record number of opposing comments, including organizations as diverse as the NAACP and the ACLU.

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