Posted By Lisa Graas on April 13, 2011The Thomas More Society is defending pro-lifers against the thought police at the IRS. Thank God for the Thomas More Society.
Sugar Land, TX, April 13, 2011 — The Thomas More Society issued a letter response to the Internal Revenue Service, contending that the IRS’ repeated requests for information about the viewpoint and content of the communications, prayer vigils, and other activities of “Christian Voices for Life” violate the group’s First Amendment rights. In its demand letters, the IRS has sought to know whether the group does “education on both sides of the issues,” whether members of the group “try to block people to [sic] enter a … medical clinic” during “40 Days for Life” and “Life Chain” events, whether members of the group “attempt to talk to someone trying to enter a medical clinic,” and to “please explain what you are [doing] during” 40 Days for Life and Life Chain vigils.
“The application of Christian Voices for Life clearly indicates that the organization qualifies as a charitable organization under section 501(c)(3),” stated Thomas More Society executive director and legal counsel Peter Breen. “These requests suggest that the IRS may be denying or delaying tax-exempt status based upon the organization’s pro-life message, rather than any legitimate exemption concern. Moreover, the implication in these questions that Christian Voices for Life somehow intends to engage in illegal activity is insulting.”
Christian Voices for Life is a small charitable organization based in Fort Bend County, Texas, and dedicated to promoting a culture of life through education, prayer and other ministry activities. Its funds go almost entirely to education and the “advancement of religious beliefs,” expenditure categories which the Internal Revenue Code recognizes as appropriate for a public charity. The organization’s activities consist of posting factual information on its website, making speakers available who similarly rely on and speak about fact-based information and positions, and holding prayer vigils and peaceable assemblies that demonstrate Christian compassion and love.
The letter response, which was drafted by Thomas More Society special counsel Sally Wagenmaker, highlights IRS regulations that it must take a position of “disinterested neutrality” with respect to the viewpoint advocated by an organization and cannot force an organization to take a position against its beliefs in order to provide “both sides.” The response also states that the organization more than adequately follows the law in the activities it conducts.