Will Anti-Gay Churches Have Their Tax Exempt Status Revoked?
Revocation of churches’ tax-exempt status most likely not going to happen, but the claim that the IRS will crack down on anti-marriage equality pastors is a powerful conservative talking point because it dovetails both with the conservative fixation with the ginned-up controversy that the IRS was targeting tea party groups seeking 501(c)(4) social welfare organization status and the religious right’s historical antipathy toward the IRS’s regulation of churches.
As Thomas Edsall shows in a great piece, not only are the claims that the IRS targeted only conservative groups seeking social welfare status demonstrably wrong, but the entire overblown “scandal” has hamstrung the agency, making it unlikely that it will go after any 501(c)(4) organizations for improper political activity, including the big players run by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. What’s more, in another arena where religious conservatives have claimed persecution by the IRS—the prohibition on endorsing candidates from the pulpit—the IRS has initiated no audits since 2009, owing to its own failure to develop a court-ordered procedure for doing so. (The rule was rarely enforced even before this delay.)