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HAGELIN: A personal, pro-family account of the horrors of being targeted by IRS
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?
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.
Over the past 4 years, the Obama White House has projected its belief that power ought to reside in the all-knowing "government" rather than the people it serves. It's nothing more than arrogance fed by power. The administration's track record — of ignoring constitutional boundaries on religious liberty, executive powers and fiscal budgets — reflects an attitude that progressives are entitled to do whatever is necessary in order to further their radical agenda, no matter how many constitutional freedoms or limits they trample upon in the process.
How to save your family: Fight back, patriots
Americans, this is the time to stand up and demand accountability. The IRS employees implicated in the scandal, as well as their do-nothing superiors, must be fired. A thorough congressional investigation must be undertaken, in addition to the one the Obama administration's Justice Department supposedly will conduct, to see how deep and wide the IRS scandal really is. New laws, along the lines of legislation proposed by Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, to prohibit the IRS from discriminating on the basis of ideology, must be passed. Conservative groups that have been targeted unfairly must take their stories to the media and pursue justice in the courts.
It's time to push back.
It's also time to look ahead and gear up for the 2014 elections. We must clean house in Congress and restore the power of the American people, expressed in limited government. America's freedoms will not survive if we do not stop the madness.
Continuing down the present road is unthinkable. Today, the IRS harasses citizens because of their political and religious views; tomorrow, the IRS, empowered by Obamacare, will harass citizens because of their choices regarding medical care and insurance. In the meantime, the government will build a massive database of Americans' most sensitive, personal information, effectively at the disposal of thousands of faceless bureaucrats who, we are supposed to believe, will never stoop to snooping in or leaking such information.
It's time to put an end to the "progressive" agenda that threatens all of our constitutional rights. It's time to be a patriot. You can make your voice heard on the IRS scandal at a special website set up by another great organization with which I am associated, FreedomWorks. Simply go to FreedomWorksforMe.com to demand immediate action by our elected officials. Because when government tyranny strikes even one of us, all Americans lose.
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at rebecca@howtosave yourfamily.com.
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