Friday, September 15, 2006

Kansas Religious Group Loses Tax Exemption

Catholics for Free Choice reports that right-to-life religious group active in Wichita has lost its tax exemption.

On September 11, 2006, the IRS announced that it had revoked the nonprofit 501(c)(3) status of Youth Ministries, Inc., which did business as Operation Rescue West (ORW). While the IRS does not provide information on the circumstances that lead to revocations of any group’s tax-exempt status, a CFFC complaint filed in 2004 provided information on ORW’s electoral activities during the Boston Democratic Party convention that we considered to be violations of IRS regulations.

Our complaint referred to a full-page ad placed by the antichoice group on July 15, 2004, in the Wanderer, an ultra-conservative national Catholic weekly. In the ad, ORW called on readers to make what it said was a “tax-deductible donation to help pay the bills and affect the outcome of the election” and called for readers to give a tax-deductible donation to help “defeat [John Kerry] in November and enable President Bush to appoint a pro-life Supreme Court Justice to finally overturn Roe v. Wade.” In making its case, Operation Rescue West cited the statements of several cardinals and bishops who had attacked Catholic politicians for their support of a woman’s right to choose and invited the support of readers as they are “going into the middle of a war in Boston.” [Emphasis in original.] ORW said that the money raised would be spent in Boston during the Democratic Party convention, where it planned to distribute antiabortion, anti-Kerry materials and display highly visible ads on trucks at key sites.

This egregious violation of US tax laws was perhaps the most visible and vicious by various tax-exempt organizations opposed to abortion rights and, by extension, candidates who support these rights during the 2004 election season.

The national Talk-To-Action weblog disccuses the case and has nice things to say about a Wichita group of young abortion rights activists that helped bring down ORW. They're known as the "Maggot Punks", but based on my interactions with them, they are pretty nice people.

With Phil Kline basing his campaign on evangelical churches, there could be many more churches and religious organizations losing their tax exemption in the future. The Wichita Eagle and other observers seems to be taking the line that Kline's actios are unseemly and inappropriate, but not illegal. I'm not so sure. More on that later.

Post a Comment