Family Research Council’s stated purpose is to “advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview.” In recent years, with God’s help and the work of committed partners, we have won some key victories to that end.
Could this be why some of the most liberal members of Congress have targeted FRC for investigation by the IRS? They want to use the power of government to silence those who hold opposing policy views by eliminating their not-for-profit status. They falsely accuse FRC and other religious organizations of “exploiting” tax laws by claiming to be “churches.”
First, FRC has never claimed to be a church. We are a religious organization with a published statement of faith that works with thousands of churches across the nation. So, we sought and obtained the classification as an “association of churches,” a different classification than a “church.”
Second, you don’t just check a box when you send in your tax form, saying, “We’re now an association of churches.” We had to show that we met the established criteria set by federal regulations. Rep. Kevin Brady, ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, who recently attended one of our pastor events, said he watched FRC go through this process and describes it as “very thoughtful (and) deliberative.”
This designation is not a legal dodge. We have relationships and partnerships with more than 40,000 churches of many denominations and traditions nationwide. We regularly conduct pastors’ conferences and gatherings for Christians across the country called “Pray Vote Stand” Summits. We feature some of America’s most prominent pastors and religious leaders on our broadcasts and at our public events. We also have a ministry to men called “Stand Courageous” which is held in churches across the country.
In 2020, we launched a two-year Bible reading plan called “Stand on the Word” that has been joined by thousands of partners and FRC staff. As part of this initiative, I host a daily online devotional. Each morning, FRC conducts a Bible study and prayer time for the entire organization. Additionally, FRC holds a monthly chapel service for staff.
While not required to file an IRS Form 990 under our classification, FRC has continued to do so. Additionally, our financial reports are a matter of public record, accessible to anyone who wishes to review them. We are also a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
Is the concern of those on the left who have complained to the IRS generated by their interest in FRC’s comportment with not-for-profit guidelines? Or could it be that they simply disagree with FRC’s positions and advocacy for biblical values? In their letter, they note that FRC has recently “filed amicus briefs supporting the overturning of Roe v. Wade, advocated for legislation that would ban gender-affirming surgery, and sought religious exemptions to civil rights laws.”
Yes, we have — and have publicly and repeatedly explained why. Our position on the sanctity of life from conception onward, on the physical and psychological health risks of transgender, and on the liberty of religious belief and expression are biblical positions on matters of vital public interest.
All of these and our other related activities are fully legal. They are upsetting to the left because these positions have gained traction in the public square.
There is one more important issue to consider. The Democratic Party’s attempts to silence religious organizations with whom they disagree will not stop with FRC. If their targeting of FRC succeeds, they will turn their efforts toward churches that also teach and preach biblical truth. This is not speculation. In a September 2019 hearing, House Democrats argued for the elimination of the tax-exempt status of FRC and other Christian organizations deemed by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be “hate groups.” This is an egregious abuse of power.
It is ironic that these members of Congress rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate designation since the SPLC is noteworthy for using extreme political rhetoric as a fundraising ploy.
As former SPLC staffer Bob Moser, writing in the New Yorker, puts it, SPLC has “a way of turning idealists into cynics.” He says that the SPLC “(rips) off donors on behalf of an organization that never live(s) up to the values it espouse(s).” And, his anguish rising off the page, Mr. Moser describes the “guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.”
Currently, the SPLC is sitting on a hoard of an astounding $500 million. Just what does it plan to do with all this money? Certainly, not fighting “hate,” let alone “southern poverty.”
Ten years ago this month, a troubled LBGTQ activist named Floyd Lee Corkins entered FRC’s headquarters with the intent of massacring our staff. Our courageous building manager, Leo Johnson, fought Mr. Corkins even after being shot in the arm and prevented him from killing dozens. Mr. Corkins became the first person convicted under the District of Columbia’s domestic terrorism law.
What generated Mr. Corkins’ outrage? The SPLC’s “hate map” of groups it dislikes — among them, FRC.
There is hate abroad in our country, but it’s not coming from us. And there is an exploitation of IRS rules, but the exploiters are often the same people who make their living attacking those with whom they disagree. There is no better case in point than the SPLC.
These tactics are nothing new for those on the left who want to silence conservative religious organizations, including churches. They will not succeed. Threats will not, by God’s grace, deter us. Rest assured, we will continue to contend, legally, earnestly and consistently, for faith, family and freedom.
• Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council.