Rep. Owens and Sen. Lee Call-out IRS Affront to Religious Liberty

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) joined colleagues in sending a bicameral letter to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of a religious values group. The letter calls out the IRS determination that “the sanctity of life, biblical marriage, and biblical justice” were associated with political party platforms.

Of the letter, Rep. Owens said, “With this politically motivated and discriminatory decision, the IRS has contradicted itself and alienated Americans of faith. Religious prejudice should never be tolerated, especially from our federal institutions. This determination should be reviewed and corrected.”

Sen. Lee said, “Marriage and the sanctity of life are foundational religious doctrines for millions of Americans. Pilgrims crossed oceans so that pastors, preachers, and priests could teach and encourage their congregants to live in accordance with their beliefs.  The IRS should know better than to impugn preaching as politics.”

The letter reads in part:

“We write today to express extreme concern regarding a recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determination on the tax-exempt status of Christians Engaged, a nonprofit organization located in Texas. We urge you to personally review this determination, and remove the individual, or individuals, responsible for the blatantly biased, discriminatory, and flawed reasoning that led to the determination.

“Mr. Martin also takes offense to Christians Engaged’s teachings regarding “freedom of speech, defense, … borders and immigration, [and] U.S. and Israel relations.” Millions of Americans draw deeply from their religious beliefs to inform how they vote and many religious organizations conduct get out the vote efforts. In fact, President Biden himself campaigned alongside church leaders during the 2020 presidential race.

“The IRS must objectively analyze applications for tax-exempt status and cannot allow political biases to creep into its decisions. We urge you to immediately review Christians Engaged’s application for 501(c)(3) status personally, and terminate the IRS staff involved in the flawed and politically motivated reasoning behind the determination.”

The full text of the letter and an online version of this release can be found here.

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