- - Sunday, May 19, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Culture challenge of the week: Government tyranny

Who knew that I would be a victim of the oppressive attacks of the IRS on people of conservative values and Christian faith. But I have, and it is a personal stinging reminder of how terribly close we are to losing all of our freedoms. Like many readers of my column, I have been watching accelerated attacks against constitutional government, free speech, free markets and freedom of religion. You name it, we have lost much over the past few years.

Even so, I wasn’t expecting that I would be caught up in the latest scandal to rock the Obama administration. But I am not surprised to find out that Obama, et al. are pinning the Nazi-like tactics on government bureaucrats deep in the bowels of the Internal Revenue Service.


The IRS last week offered a tepid apology for “inappropriate” actions by two low-level employees in Cincinnati, who subjected “about 75” conservative organizations to “extra inquiry” before deciding their eligibility for tax-exempt status. Ho-hum. Just a case of well-meaning bureaucratic excess, right?

No way.

Here is what the IRS really did: Employees in at least three offices singled out and harassed up to 500 groups that favor limited government, oppose abortion, and reflect conservative and/or Christian ideals and values.

I serve on the board of directors of one such group: Family Talk Action, a Christian ministry that was formed for the purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ; of providing Christ-oriented advice and education to parents and children; and of speaking to cultural issues that affect the family. Well-known psychologist, author and family advocate James C. Dobson serves as Family Talk Action’s president and CEO and is the primary host of the radio show “FamilyTalk.” (You can hear “FamilyTalk” at drjamesdobson.org.)

Dr. Dobson founded “FamilyTalk” and Family Talk Action Corp. after he left Focus on the Family, an organization he founded many years ago.

After 19 months of waiting for a response from the IRS, our attorney, Martin Nussbaum, (who has successfully filed and received the tax-exempt status for scores of organizations) was finally able to reach the IRS representative handling our paperwork, Ms. R. Medley. Ms. Medley told him that the tax-exempt status we requested probably would be denied. Her reasons? She said that Family Talk Action sounded like a “partisan right-wing group” that presents only conservative viewpoints. She then added, “You’re political” because you “criticized President Obama, who was a candidate.”

Despite the fact that Dr. Dobson has earned a doctorate, that he was a practicing pediatrician at the University of Southern California, that FamilyTalk is heard on 1,100 stations teaching parents how to strengthen their families, despite the fact that Dr. Dobson has written some 80 books and is one of the great educators of our day, Ms. Medley had the audacity to say that our organization is not educational. “Strangely,” after Mr. Nussbaum threatened legal action, we were suddenly granted the 501(c) (4) status we had requested.

Other groups waited for three years without receiving a “yes” or “no” on their applications for tax-exempt status — while progressive groups received approval in timely fashion. Many conservative groups were subjected to intimidating requests to expose their donors, document their beliefs and name participants in group activities. Far from being the actions of “rogue” employees as the now-resigned acting IRS commissioner said, the targeting, informants say, appears to have been what “their bosses ordered.”

In spite of the clear viewpoint-based scrutiny by its employees, the IRS official in charge denied that “partisan” politics motivated the improper actions. That is preposterous, given that employees of the IRS “disproportionately” donated to Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and liberal groups were not subject to the same harassment.

The Obama administration’s response?

Political posturing. Mr. Obama announced the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner over the “intolerable” behavior and spoke of the need to “restore confidence” in the government. But he took no personal responsibility for the climate of governmental arrogance and constitutional disregard he helped create. Nor did he admit what everyone knows: The IRS wielded government favor like a club, intimidating groups with conservative beliefs and tromping over the rights of American citizens seeking to exercise their constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of association.

Story Continues →