Religious Right Urges Activists to ‘Rat Out’ Liberal Churches to IRS

The Religious Right has embraced the issue of the tax-exempt status of churches and other non-profits that promote political candidates and issues, decrying what they call an effort to “silence” them or deny their religious liberty. At the Values Voter Summit, the name of Rev. Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Church and State, rang out in anger from the stage almost every hour, and Rick Scarborough threatened to burn his 501(c)3 non-profit registration form. But as groups like Focus on the Family ramp up electoral work in states with contentious Senate races and promise to defy the tax regulation that makes political contributions non-deductible, William Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition is taking the opposite tack, with a web site dedicated to “ending radical left-wing politics in the pulpit” and offering visitors the opportunity to file an IRS complaint against churches. According to Murray, this effort is in the spirit of ecumenicalism:

Mr. Murray said he collected more than 30 complaints against liberal, mostly black, churches on his Web site during the last presidential contest. He referred several cases to the IRS, he said, and has received two more during this year’s midterm contests.

“I actually believe that what I’m doing with this is wrong, but I’m doing it in a defensive nature,” said Mr. Murray, executive director of the Religious Freedom Action Coalition. “Somebody has to defend the conservative churches and the only way to protect them is to attack the liberal churches.”