Anti-LGBT Hate Groups Declare Themselves To Be Churches, Thereby Evading Financial Disclosure Rules

Miranda Blue reports at Right Wing Watch:

Focus on the Family, the behemoth Religious Right organization founded by James Dobson, has declared itself to be a church, thereby avoiding a requirement that it file public tax documents, according to IRS records and a document available on the organization’s website.

Focus on the Family filed as a non-church 501(c)(3) nonprofit as recently as the 2014 fiscal year, submitting to the IRS a publicly available Form 990 as most tax-exempt nonprofits are required to do. But when the group posted a Form 990 for the 2015 fiscal year on its website—dated October 26, 2017, and reporting a massive budget of $89 million—it was emblazoned with the message “Not required to file and not filed with the IRS. Not for public inspection.”

Gail Harmon, an attorney who has advised nonprofits on tax law for more than 30 years, said that she had never before seen a nonprofit organization declare itself a church. “I just found it shocking,” she said. “There’s nothing about them that meets the traditional definition of what a church is,” she said. “They don’t have a congregation, they don’t have the rites of various parts of a person’s life. There’s a whole system for what a church is.”

David Cary Hart reports at Slowly Boiled Frog:

Somehow the hate group known as Liberty Counsel has managed to convince the Internal Revenue Service that it is a church or church support organization. The result of this is that Liberty Counsel is no longer required to file an annual report with the IRS which means that the organization will operate in secrecy. If that is not bad enough, Congress has passed a measure that makes auditing churches nearly impossible.

This is outrageous. It reeks of Christian supremacy — One set of laws for conservative Christians; another set of laws for everyone else. We all subsidize groups like Liberty Counsel. We have a right to know what they took in and how they spent it. Being tax-exempt is a privilege. It is not a right and it comes with certain responsibilities.