IRS Grants Tax-Exempt Status to Christians Engaged

On July 7, 2021, Christians Engaged released a statement that the IRS had reversed its decision not to grant the organization 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. On May 18, 2021, the IRS denied Christians Engaged nonprofit status because “the bible [sic] teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.” 

Christians Engaged is an organization that “provides nonpartisan religious and civic education, focusing on encouraging and educating Christians to be civically engaged as a part of their religious practice,” according to a statement released by First Liberty, which appealed to the IRS on behalf of Christians Engaged. 

501(c)(3) organizations are required not to be affiliated with any political party or overtly political. They cannot urge their members to support or oppose legislation, nor can they use a substantial portion of their funds for lobbying purposes. 501(c)(3) organizations also cannot endorse or publicly oppose any political candidate. However, according to the IRS guidelines, 501(c)(3), nonprofits can take a stand on divisive issues, so long as they do not use their stance on particular issues to endorse or oppose candidates.

In May, Christians Engaged was denied 501(c)(3) status because it allegedly “instruct[s] individuals on issues that are prominent in political campaigns and instruct them in what the Bible says about the issue and how they should vote. These issues include the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, and biblical justice,” according to a letter sent to Christians Engaged from the IRS. The IRS claimed that these issues are “associated with political party platforms.” Thus Christians Engaged is ineligible for nonprofit tax status. 

However, the IRS reversed its decision in July after First Liberty appealed on behalf of Christians Engaged. 

In a statement thanking First Liberty and various congressmen and senators who supported Christians Engaged, founder Bunni Pounds said that “This is a victory not only for Christians Engaged but for every Christian organization around America that teaches the Bible and cares about the future of our great nation.”

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