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"Liberty University" May Have Violated Tax Exempt Status

Posted by libhom Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When religious groups except tax-exempt status, they make a promise to the taxpayers in return, not to use tax-free assets to support political candidates. So much for Christian fundamentalists keeping promises. Excerpted from Americans United for Separation of Church and State Press Release 12/4/07:

Americans United Asks IRS To Investigate Falwell's Liberty University For Endorsement Of Mike Huckabee

Liberty Chancellor Used School Resources To Promote Presidential Candidate, Church-State Watchdog Group Says

Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. violated federal tax law by using school resources to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the Internal Revenue Service today.

In a complaint filed with the federal tax agency, Americans United noted that Falwell hosted the candidate at Liberty University and then sent an email message on Liberty University letterhead endorsing Huckabee.

In a “Liberty News Alert” dated Dec. 1, 2007, Falwell wrote, “Recently, Governor Mike Huckabee called to brief me on the progress of his campaign for the presidency. I invited the Governor to speak to the Liberty University students in Convocation on November 28. He graciously accepted. I was so impressed with the Governor’s sincerity and his positions on the issues that are important to conservative Christians that I personally endorsed Governor Huckabee before he left Lynchburg.”

Falwell goes on to say, “My father strongly supported Governor Huckabee when no one thought that he had any chance to succeed in the presidential race. I believe with all my heart that, if my father had witnessed Governor Huckabee’s surge in the polls and his ascension to first place in the Iowa polls, he would have endorsed Governor Huckabee without hesitation.”

The alert was accompanied by an article from a university-run online publication implying that Huckabee is God’s candidate.

Americans United sent a letter to IRS officials today, asking them to investigate the matter. The letter notes that on Nov. 19, the IRS issued a press statement reminding charities and churches about the ban on politicking and asks the tax agency to back that up with enforcement in this case.

“Falwell surely knows that these types of political endorsements are illegal,” remarked the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Tax-exempt religious institutions may not be used to support or oppose candidates for public office.”

Falwell seems to be following in the footsteps of his late father Jerry Falwell Sr. In 1993, Falwell Sr.'s Old Time Gospel Hour had its tax exemption retroactively revoked for the years 1986 and 1987 and the ministry was required to pay $50,000 because of involvement in partisan politics.

Pastors and heads of 501(c)(3) non-profit groups are free to endorse candidates as private individuals, but the Internal Revenue Code does not allow them to use institutional resources, such as official publications, Web sites and other forms of communication, to back or oppose candidates.

5 comments

  1. Larry Says:
  2. I have never understood how Falwell and the others could stand in their pulpits each week, and use their TV shows to proclaimthe greatness of a Republican Candidate and degrade a Democrat without retribution.

    No doubt the Republican powers have long protected Falwell, Dobson and Robertson, and will continue to do so.

    Little Falwell is following the same partisan hate that his dad was eaten up with.

     
  3. I blame the media for perpetuating ignorance on the part of the electorate. What part of the Article VI, US Constitution don’t they understand: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

     
  4. Man oh man i hope they throw the book at them. I too agree how these clowns ever got a seat at the political table ,when we have Constitutional laws about the seperation of church and state still remains an outrage to me. Oh a rare positive note on tweety - he lately seems to be more "democratic" in that he too questions in his "hardball" way the preposternous really, of asking candidates about their faith or the damn bible. He must have taken some reality pills or got the word that an Olbermann like approach is making msnbc ratings go up up up.

    These hate mongers must be relagated back to their churches, and off the public policy panels. WE are NOT and never will be a theocracy. They can all stuff it as far as i am concerned, they have been responsible for more damage to lives than they can ever know. and its time for them to STFU on the public square. Religion is a private matter. I hold them responsible for damage to our Constitution and ruining lives.

     
  5. Larry Says:
  6. If the son is like the daddy, he has already called the White House to arrange another payment, and call off the dogs.

     
  7. Jay Says:
  8. I'd like to read your follow-up comment on this.

    Liberty University spurns Democratic club
    Washington Post / May 23, 2009

    "The club, which has about 30 members, will no longer be able to use Liberty's name, hold on-campus meetings, or be eligible for student activities money...."

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/05/23/liberty_university_spurns_democratic_club/

     

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