The apologetics organization Catholic Answers has filed suit against the Internal Revenue Service claiming the federal tax collection agency has “intimidated” churches and non-profit groups into silence on politically controversial moral issues.
In an announcement posted at the organization’s web site, Catholic Answers president Karl Keating explained that the IRS fined the group for a 2004 e-letter it wrote saying that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry should not be allowed to receive Holy Communion.
Keating charged that Francis Kissling, then-leader of the pro-abortion front group “Catholics for a Free Choice,” had instigated the IRS action with a complaint.
He said Kissling “hated” Catholic Answers’ “Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics,” which aimed to educate Catholics on issues such as abortion. However, the guide did not mention any candidates or political parties and was cleared of any violations by the IRS.
According to Keating, the IRS did rule that the e-letter’s remark about Sen. Kerry was “intervening” in the election, a charge Keating called “preposterous.”
He said the IRS has been using “very vague criteria” to “intimidate” churches, non-profits and ministries into “silence” on controversial moral issues.
“The intimidation has become so bad that nowadays, most churches and non-profits in America are scared to death even to talk about moral issues that are deemed ‘political' (such as abortion).”
“If you’re wondering why you don’t hear more about abortion in your parish, especially during election time, this is why. It’s IRS intimidation,” Keating wrote.
“All of this tail-between-the-legs cowering comes from the IRS’ ability to intimidate churches and non-profits into silence on political issues.
“And it’s simply wrong.
“For the IRS to claim that a non-profit organization cannot even so much as talk about a political candidate or ballot issue is something that must be strenuously opposed.”
Keating announced that Catholic Answers officially began its legal action against the IRS on April 3. Its lawsuit alleges that the IRS violates First Amendment Rights and intimidates non-profit organizations into silence.
The suit, he said, would serve not just Catholic Answers but the Catholic Church as a whole and all religious organizations. He said a victorious lawsuit would set a legal precedent holding that the IRS cannot prohibit speech on religious or moral issues.
CNA contacted Catholic Answers for further comment but did not receive a response by publication time.