Last updated on January 4th, 2021 at 04:13 pm
On the eve of the 2020 presidential election, the Internal Revenue Service officially resumed their discredited, disreputable practice of targeting conservative groups seeking to silence them. In an October 27th letter, the IRS threatened to revoke the nonprofit status of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) because they have determined that CAAP “attacked a presidential candidate and urged its followers to elect conservatives.” CAAP, headed by Rev. William Owens and his wife Deborah Owens, is a conservative Christian nonprofit group that has frequently spoken out about what it considers the betrayal of the African American community by the Democrat party and leading Democrat political figures, including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. The group of black pastors has urged African Americans to reject anti-biblical policies advanced by the Democrats including abortion and the redefinition of marriage. Rev. Owens was a prominent supporter of Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020.
Now Rev. Owens is fighting back. With the help of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), he’s not only filed an appeal with the IRS to challenge this ruling against CAAP, he’s launched a full frontal attack on the so-called “Johnson Amendment” that hangs over the head of every pastor in America, unconstitutionally muzzling their speech in election-related matters. In an interview with iFamNews, Rev. Owens said:
It is amazing that the IRS has admitted in writing that they are targeting black pastors like me because we support conservative policies and conservative candidates. This is because they have seen the percentage of the black vote for President Trump increase exponentially as more and more black leaders question the failed policies of the Democrat party and their standard bearers. They are trying to silence us because we have had the courage to speak truth to power.
You can watch Rev. Owens and his wife’s full interview with Brian Brown here:
For years pastors have railed against the so-called “Johnson Amendment,” which effectively muzzles pastors and churches from speaking on political campaigns from the pulpit or as organizations. Adopted in 1954, the IRS seems to have been hesitant up until recently to actually revoke the 501 (c) 3 status of politically active churches. No more. The case against CAAP could be the best case in years to once and for all bring an end to the “Johnson Amendment.”
iFamNews has obtained the IRS letter threatening the revocation of CAAP’s tax status. It is explosive reading, which you can review at this link, along with CAAP’s response (the document is also posted at the bottom of this article).
CAAP is not taking the IRS threat lying down. Rev. Owens responded to the IRS by writing, “we will not allow ourselves to be shoved to the back of the constitutional bus.”
CAAP was formed by Rev. Owens and Mrs. Owens in 2012. The organization has conducted rallies, training sessions, educational programs and media events to bring attention to their issues.
NOM has launched a new initiative to support CAAP in their legal fight against the IRS and to raise funds to support whatever legal action they may have to take. You can contribute to the CAAP Defense Fund here.
The targeting of CAAP and other conservative groups said to have engaged in political activity is not matched with similar enforcement action against leftist nonprofit groups.
On January 16, 2016 Planned Parenthood endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. Their then-president, Cecile Richards, told the New York Times, “Everything Planned Parenthood has believed in and fought for over the past 100 years is on the ballot.” Hillary Clinton thanked the nonprofit group for their endorsement at a major rally she scheduled a few days later in New Hampshire where Richards took the opportunity to attack Republicans running for president. Similarly, Planned Parenthood endorsed Joe Biden in 2020. Yet, the IRS did not launch an investigation into Planned Parenthood, accusing it of “attacking” a presidential candidate or urging its followers to elect liberal candidates.
In 2016, the American Federation of Teachers endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. The nonprofit group passed a resolution praising Clinton’s positions on such liberal issues as health care reform, the so-called gender gap, raising the minimum wage, providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, gun control, support for Black Lives Matter, and support for the “LGBTQ” community. The resolution repeatedly attacked Donald Trump, the Republican candidate. The AFT also endorsed Joe Biden in 2020 and continually criticized President Donald Trump. Research shows that Democrats receive some 99% of campaign contributions from AFT and its related entities. The IRS did not launch an investigation into the American Federation of Teachers, accusing it of “attacking” a presidential candidate or urging its followers to elect liberal candidates.
This pattern has been repeated time and time again. Liberal nonprofit groups are free to endorse candidates and back political parties and causes with no concern of repercussion from the IRS. Conservative groups are scrutinized and investigated.
The IRS has a sordid history of targeting conservative groups. During the Obama administration, the Director of Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner, infamously carried out a policy of denying, revoking or delaying the nonprofit status of conservative groups. Organizations with names that included “tea party” and “patriots” were systematically targeted for investigations and enforcement. Lerner claimed that the targeting was isolated to “low level” employees in one IRS field office, but this claim was quickly debunked by conservative groups producing documents showing the targeting involved many offices and employees within the IRS. When Congress subpoenaed Lerner’s emails, the IRS claimed that her computer hard drive had crashed and no emails could be produced. Lerner was allowed to retire with full benefits. No IRS official was every punished for the scandal targeting conservative groups.
It was not just denying, revoking or delaying nonprofit status of conservative groups that showed the IRS’ bias again conservatives. During 2012, the issue of same-sex ‘marriage’ was on the ballot in five states. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was the leading group in the country championing traditional marriage. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) was the leading group supporting gay ‘marriage.’ Its then-president was also a Co-Chair of the Obama reelection campaign. By 2012, many gay groups had taken to doxing or otherwise targeting those who supported traditional marriage. Tax laws, however, shielded the identity of donors to nonprofit groups like NOM and HRC. The organizations were required to disclose the identity of major donors to the IRS, but donor information was not shared with the public.
In the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign and the state ballot measure campaigns on the definition of marriage, the IRS illegally released NOM’s confidential tax return and donor information to a gay activist, who promptly shared it with the HRC. Within hours the information was published by national media outlets including the Huffington Post. It was revealed that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was a supporter of NOM, something that was used by the HRC to raise money for Obama. Meanwhile, numerous major donors to NOM became the target of orchestrated protests, doxing and harassment, negatively impacting NOM’s fundraising.
NOM sued the IRS for their illegal release of their confidential donor information and the IRS was forced to settle the legal action for $50,000. However, by then the damage was done. NOM’s finances had been hindered, Mitt Romney had been outed, and traditional marriage donors had been targeted. The IRS claimed that this series of events was accidental, once again blaming a “low level” employee. No IRS official was every held accountable for this illegal conduct.
The targeting of the Coalition of African American Pastors by the IRS should send a chill down the spine of every conservative. With Joe Biden about to become the next President, conservatives have great cause for worry that the IRS is again transforming itself into a weapon of ideological warfare, where liberal groups are given a free pass and conservative voices are harassed and targeted, pushed into silence, or even worse. Pushed out of existence.