Franklin Graham Takes on the I.R.S.

Franklin Graham must have rejoiced at the news that I.R.S. officials improperly targeted conservative activist groups for audits.

By way of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — an outfit which not only pays zero taxes, but effectively receives a public subsidy to carry out its ministerial activities — Franklin has worked out quite a felicitous financial arrangement for his fiefdom.

Trouble is, the taxmen caught wind of the Graham family’s recent politicking: the BGEA set out to encourage Christians to back “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel” during the 2012 elections, and intervened in the (successful) North Carolina ballot initiative to ban gay marriage.

Ultimately, the I.R.S. took no action, and Graham’s outfits retained the legal designation of 501(c)(3) “charitable organization.” But he was not content to put the matter to rest. This week, the self-styled “Christian Leader” took advantage of the unfolding scandal in Washington and wrote an open letter to Barack Obama, accusing officials of “targeting and attempting to intimidate” the Graham dynasty, just as they had Tea Party and “Patriot” groups.

His hunch that the audit represented something more than just a “coincidence” was evidence enough for POLITICO and other news outlets to run with the story, foregoing any attempt at independent verification of Graham’s claims, and Christian right circles are up in arms.

Most to blame is the I.R.S. for empowering any old zealot who’s been subject of an audit to cast himself as a benighted victim. Score one for Franklin.

About michaeltracey

Journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Follow me on Twitter at @mtracey.

  • DougI

    Maybe the entitled douchebag will bring so much attention to himself that the IRS will feel pressured to investigate him to serve as a warning to others not to engage in his brand of douchebaggery?

    • Charles Honeycutt

      They already investigated him, and did nothing. Now he’s lying about the investigation, and will probably raise money through lying about it.

  • http://www.myfathershouse.squarespace.com/ A Christian

    Yeah. I didn’t know much about this organization, actually, but after reading about this on the Christian Post yesterday I was mad at BGEA. They are not being persecuted, and in the CP article Grahm said the audit was a waste of donors’ money. That really makes me mad, but for other reasons than they would expect.

  • Artor

    I still don’t know why it’s a scandal that the IRS took a closer look at groups who have tax avoidance as one of their primary platforms. I’d think that any responsible & alert official would do that without being told.

  • The Captain

    So lets see, for the right wing, police should be allowed to pull over and stop blacks at a higher rate since they think blacks commit more crime. They also think that Muslims should be targeted for extra scrutiny by almost every agency just because of their names or skin color associates them with terrorist. They think police, fire, any civil servant should look into the residency of any one looking mexican. But the IRS looking into groups from a movement that have a stated belief that taxes are wrong and should be avoided is bad.

    Got it… the government should only profile other probably brown people.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    The same folks that only deleted the Mormon Church from it’s list of cults the same day they endorsed Romney for president. How do these sleazebags have any credibility?

  • rgcustomer

    You know, left-vs-right IRS scandals happened under Republican administrations, and nothing came of it. Where were all these people then?

    This time (referring to the overall thing, not Franklin in particular), Democrats need to stand their ground. There is good reason to believe several of the targeted groups were essentially money-laundering schemes under the cover of politics.

  • Robster

    Has this bloke been named after the same Frank the new improved pope picked?


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