Washington, D.C. -- The Internal Revenue Service crackdown on TV preacher Pat Robertson sends a strong warning to other tax-exempt religious groups that do politicking, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In an agreement just made public, the IRS has revoked the tax exemption of the Christian Broadcasting Network for the years 1986 and '87 and permanently revoked the exemption of three other now-defunct Robertson organizations. CBN was also required to make an undisclosed "significant payment" to the IRS, add outside persons to the board of directors and agree "not to engage in campaign activities."
Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, "This action shows that even millionaire TV preachers have to obey the federal tax laws. I say, hallelujah!"
"The IRS action sends a strong message to other religious ministries that engage in partisan politics," Lynn added. "You are risking your tax exemption.
"Robertson has tried to stampede churches into partisan politics," Lynn noted. "This shows what could happen to churches that follow his lead."
"This is an important first step, but now the IRS needs to take action against Robertson's political arm, the Christian Coalition," Lynn continued. "The evidence of Coalition wrong-doing is overwhelming."
Lynn said the ban on future political activities by CBN is especially significant.
"The biggest question now is whether Robertson has learned his lesson," said Lynn. "I have my doubts. But you can be sure that we will be watching."
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.