Our View: IRS attacks Christian groups
But audits that Samaritan's Purse and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association chief Franklin Graham said sapped resources from the needy and were inspired through a targeted attack on conservative groups are something else entirely.
A letter sent by Graham to both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday outlined notifications from the IRS in September 2012 that reviews for both Samaritan's Purse and BGEA would be conducted for the tax year 2010. In that letter, Graham stresses that he does not believe that those notifications -- which were followed through upon by IRS agents in October 2012 -- were coincidental.
Last April, BGEA had ran full-page ads in newspapers, including the Watauga Democrat, supporting the Marriage Amendment in North Carolina -- counter to the views of the current administration. In the fall, the organization ran ads locally and nationally urging voters to cast ballots for candidates "who base their decisions on biblical principles."
Now, after Obama's admission and statement late Tuesday that the IRS did indeed target conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, the term coincidence has no place in the conversation.
Not surprisingly, Graham received notice from the IRS that the returns of both Samaritan's Purse and BGEA were accepted as filed, and that both organizations continued to qualify for exemption from federal income tax. Also not surprisingly, that notice came after the election.
Graham writes that the IRS's action in targeting not-for-profit organizations with "Tea Party" and "Patriot" in their names is "chilling," and this is an accurate description.
That further targets extended to religious charities exceeds this admonishment. Audits can be costly procedures, and especially so to charities which rely on donations to fund their missions.
It is important to note that Graham begins his letter to Obama with the words, "As an American" -- for it is by these IRS actions that the ideals on which America rests its foundation are bypassed.
America is due the assurance that Graham asks for, that "we are not in a new chapter of America's history -- repressive government rule."