AU's Lynn Challenges Graham, Religious Right over IRS 'Persecution'

Church & State, July-August 2013 | Go to article overview

AU's Lynn Challenges Graham, Religious Right over IRS 'Persecution'


Recent revelations that the Internal Revenue Service may have inappropriately singled out Tea Party groups for special tax-status scrutiny led some Religious Right groups to claim that they too had been targeted, but the situations are not the same, says Americans United.

Right-wing evangelist Franklin Graham complained that the ministry founded by this father, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), was also investigated by the IRS. Graham, in a letter to President Barack Obama, asserted that the IRS sent agents to the North Carolina offices of the BGEA and Samaritan's Purse, a charity the younger Graham runs, to investigate claims that the ministries had waded into partisan politics.

But Americans United pointed out that there is solid evidence that Graham deserved to be scrutinized because his ministries might have broken federal law barring electioneering by tax-exempt organizations.

Graham conceded that he has in years past used the BGEA to send messages to donors advising them to support "candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel."

In 2012, Graham went even further and arranged for his father to meet with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and endorse him. The senior Graham told Romney, "I will do all I can to help you."

Shortly after that, the BGEA began using the ministry's tax-exempt funds to pay for full-page ads in newspapers. The ads featured Billy Graham stating, "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. …

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AU's Lynn Challenges Graham, Religious Right over IRS 'Persecution'
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