This is the kind of crap that the KGB would pull in Soviet countries. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
On Thursday the Examiner provided an exclusive report indicating that the Obama administration had implemented a covert program beginning in 2009 that was intended to spy on conservative, evangelical Christian churches.
That program involved infiltration — sending in government operatives to join churches for the purpose of data collection. The government snoops would keep their eyes and ears open for criticism of the Obama administration, talk of Tea Party participation, conversations about gun ownership, and a number of other issues.
But a special report issued today by Fox News indicates that the program went far beyond infiltration and snooping. The IRS was used to harass Christian churches if they were identified as places where large numbers of anti-Obama citizens congregated for worship.
The Obama administration, according to the report, considered any public criticism of administration policies to be political in nature and should therefore impact whether or not these congregations were allowed to gain or keep their tax exempt status.
Daniel Blomberg and Eric Rassbach explain at Fox News:
What most people don’t realize is that the IRS has been acting as the speech police for decades. Ever since 1954, when then-Senator Lyndon Johnson pushed for a law enabling the IRS to punish non-profits who opposed him politically, the IRS has been in the business of government censor. What’s worse is that one of the biggest targets of this censorship has been religious people and houses of worship. In fact, one of the IRS’s first targets in the 1950s was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was subjected to a searching IRS audit because of his religious advocacy for civil rights for African-Americans.
The IRS of course has the crushing power to deny or revoke the non-profit status of a synagogue, church, or mosque if it says something the IRS decides is too “political.” But it can also put houses of worship and other religious organizations through the wringer of intrusive, costly, and time-consuming audits.
There are two ways the targeting works. One way is for an outside group, often one that is anti-religion, to file a complaint asking the IRS to investigate a church they don’t like. The IRS responds to the complaint by opening an investigation and asking the church often hundreds of questions about its activities, with the threat of revocation of non-profit status. This is what lawyers call “selective enforcement” and it is unconstitutional. No one should be singled out in this way, especially because of collusion between the IRS and outside groups with an ax to grind.
The second way the censorship starts is for IRS officials to take their lead from high government officials, including the President, to decide which groups to target for disfavor. This is apparently what happened to the “tea party” groups, but religious groups have also been targeted in this way.
Don’t believe it? Just ask Billy Graham. Last fall, the famed Christian evangelist publicly advocated on behalf of a ballot measure in his home state of North Carolina, taking a position that the President and other high government officials publicly opposed. The tax man was knocking at the door almost immediately. And while the expensive, time-consuming audit eventually ended without any finding of wrongdoing by Graham, a message was sent to every other religious group that might oppose government policy: the IRS can use its audit powers to harass you or shut you down simply for saying what you believe. That kind of intimidation is wrong–and unconstitutional.