Plano, TX (May 12, 2009) – Free Market Foundation’s legal arm announced today that the Internal Revenue Service found that pastors who gathered in 2006 for a series of public policy conferences and included Gov. Rick Perry as a speaker, had every right to do so and that the organizers of the events did not violate any tax laws that govern non-profit organizations.
“This liberal attempt to intimidate pastors has backfired,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of Free Market Foundation, which represented event organizers. “There is now a clear IRS statement outlining these pastors’ events and approving them as valid under the law.”
In January 2008, the IRS began its investigating into the Niemoller Foundation who held six conferences in 2006 calling pastors to stand up for moral issues and to encourage their congregants to get involved in the political process. The investigation came as a result of a complaint filed by the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), a left-leaning Austin based political organization, who accused the non-profit group of breaking the law by trying to influence political campaigns. Specifically, TFN accused the religious organization of “encouraging pastors at the gatherings to mount voter registration drives and turn congregants out at the polls.” TFN also accused the group of “dragging churches into Gov. Rick Perry’s reelection campaign” after learning that he was a guest speaker at the events. The IRS ruled the pastors’ conferences were legal.
“We educate churches on moral issues facing our society and encourage them to participate in the democratic process,” said Laurence White, director of the Niemoller Foundation and a Lutheran pastor. “The IRS has unequivocally affirmed the right of pastors nationwide to come together as spokesmen for the Word of God, to interact with political leaders, historians and scholars in discussing the moral issues under debate within our culture and to assert their Biblical responsibility to address such issues from their pulpits.”
A number of liberal groups have been in a national campaign filing IRS complaints against religious leaders and pastors. “Be careful what you hear from these liberal organizations,” Shackelford said. “They sound very confident and file many complaints yet none are found valid even by the IRS.”