MANASSAS, Va., August 6, 2014 /Christian Newswire
/ -- NRB expressed concern today with reports that the IRS has struck a private deal that could lead to censorship of free speech and religious expression in churches and other houses of worship.
"I am alarmed by reports that such a powerful government agency has struck a private deal with an atheist group about procedures to investigate church leaders on the basis of their speech, when these preachers may simply be trying to apply Scripture to fundamental issues confronting our society," stated Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB. "We should all be wary of the church-state entanglement or de facto government censorship of the pulpit that could result from these procedures."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which describes itself as "the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics)," recently announced that it planned to end its lawsuit pressuring the IRS to investigate churches. FFRF stated in its release, "The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations."
Last year, the NRB Board of Directors, consisting of nearly 100 key leaders in Christian media and ministry, unanimously passed a Resolution urging against "IRS rules that would negatively impact religious non-profit organizations, or which would create entangling, or oppressive oversight from the government, or that would impair the constitutional autonomy of religious organizations or churches."
According to an IRS letter to the U.S. Department of Justice that was entered into the official record of the FFRF lawsuit, 99 churches have been determined to "merit a high priority examination." Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an NRB Member, has requested all documents related to the settlement of this lawsuit with FFRF, given the indication that procedures for church investigation have been prepared by the IRS.
Craig Parshall, NRB's Senior Vice-President & General Counsel, praised ADF for working to hold the IRS accountable: "ADF is to be commended for demanding documents from the IRS about its plans to crack down on the religious expression of churches. The FOIA law (Freedom of Information Act) being utilized by ADF is based on the notion that government should be operating in the sunshine, rather than in the shadows of a private lawsuit agreement it has struck with an anti-religion group."About NRB
The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is a non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers. Our mission is to advance biblical truth; to promote media excellence; and to defend free speech. In addition to promoting standards of excellence, integrity, and accountability, NRB provides networking, educational, ministry, and fellowship opportunities for its members. Learn more at www.nrb.org.