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As Churches Violate Federal Law, The IRS Takes Vacation Leave – Above the Law

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You see back in my day, The Church and The State were two different things. The distinction appears to remain sacrosanct for the small stuff like illegally giving away bologna sandwiches, but the federal government has been letting the church/state distinction slide. Church leaders have been doing a clear no-no, using their influence to direct the outcomes of political campaigns.

I know that the gut check response is to assume that this is an isolated incident, but feels and the truth don’t always go together.

“Ok, even if it is a link in a chain of events, surely the authorities will go after churches brazen enough to break the law out in the open!” Well…

At one point, churches fretted over losing their tax-exempt status for even unintentional missteps. But the IRS has largely abdicated its enforcement responsibilities as churches have become more brazen. In fact, the number of apparent violations found by ProPublica and the Tribune, and confirmed by three nonprofit tax law experts, is greater than the total number of churches the federal agency has investigated for intervening in political campaigns over the past decade, according to records obtained by the news organizations.

The IRS’s abdication of its enforcement responsibilities comes at a very bad time, given the growing popularity of White Christian Nationalism and its threat to our democracy.

This is not the first time that the federal government has opted out of the opportunity to cull the influence of white supremacist actors in local and federal positions of power. Remember that time they decided to not “authoriz[e] federal agencies to monitor and report jointly on domestic terrorism within the United States”?

It is really hard to not see the need to do so — the dog whistles are cat calls at this point.

I know why you come to Above The Law — where else would you hear updates on firm salaries and read Joe Patrice dunk on Johnathan Turley? But this is one of those things where the SparkNotes doesn’t really do it justice. Read the damned article. Demolishing the wall between Church and State isn’t just a Lauren Boebert pipe dream anymore. It is rapidly becoming reality.

Churches Are Breaking The Law And Endorsing In Elections, Experts Say. The IRS Looks The Other Way. [Texas Tribune]


Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s.  He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at cwilliams@abovethelaw.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.

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