The Christian Coalition's lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service is a desperation move that is certain to fail, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
On Feb. 25 the Coalition filed suit against the IRS in U.S. district court in Norfolk, charging that the federal tax agency unfairly denied the group tax exemption.
Said Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, "This lawsuit is an act of desperation by a group that has lost much of its membership and even more of its credibility. There is not a shred of evidence that the current IRS has any ideological bias."
Lynn said a mountain of evidence shows that TV preacher Pat Robertson's group is a political machine that does not deserve tax exemption. Americans United has submitted volumes of evidence to the IRS documenting the Coalition's political character, Lynn said, including a tape of a closed-door Robertson speech in which the TV preacher called on the group's state leaders to emulate Tammany Hall, one of the most corrupt political machines of American history.
"The Christian Coalition deserves tax exemption about as much as Bob Jones University deserves an award from the NAACP," quipped Lynn.
Lynn said the lawsuit is probably motivated by mundane political concerns.
"After the IRS denied the Coalition tax exemption last year, Robertson and his cronies tried to do an end-run," Lynn noted. "They announced that they would use the tax exemption of the group's Texas affiliate for the national organization. But they made it clear that they would keep doing the partisan political projects that made the IRS rule against them in the first place.
"This pathetic shell game is very unlikely to fool the IRS," Lynn continued. "The Coalition is probably going into court now to try to position itself to fight off renewed IRS scrutiny."
The Coalition has not changed its mendacious ways. It is currently preparing to distribute supposedly unbiased voter guides for the California presidential primary that are actually stacked to favor Republican candidate George W. Bush and lambaste his leading opponent, John McCain. Congressional candidates are also targeted.
Lynn also charged that the lawsuit is a fund-raising ploy.
"Robertson's group has faced severe financial and personnel problems," Lynn noted. "The lawsuit is undoubtedly a way to show donors that it still has some fight left in it. I expect the fund-raising letters are already rolling out."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group and the leading monitor and critic of the Religious Right. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and is based in Washington, D.C.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.