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Franklin Graham: IRS targeted ministries
"I do not believe the IRS audits of our two organizations last year is a coincidence," Franklin Graham wrote to the president.
May 15th, 2013
09:50 AM ET

Franklin Graham: IRS targeted ministries

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - Franklin Graham, one of the country's most prominent evangelicals, says the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service included two of his ministries.

"I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us," Graham wrote in a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama. The evangelical leader is the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham.

Graham said the IRS contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a North Carolina-based ministry, after it ran newspaper ads in that state in April encouraging support for an amendment against same-sex marriage. The group also bought newspaper ads in November encouraging Christians to vote for candidates who oppose same-sex marriage, support Israel and "base their decisions on biblical principles."

Graham said the ads were purchased by funds donated by "friends of our ministry."

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In September, the IRS informed the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, an international aid group, that it would review the groups' records for the tax year ending in 2010, according to Graham. IRS agents conducted the review in October, Graham said.

The organizations, both of which are run by Graham, later received notice that they remain eligible for federal tax exemptions, he said.

"I do not believe the IRS audits of our two organizations last year is a coincidence - or justifiable," Graham said in the letter to Obama.

The IRS did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. The agency has acknowledged that it gave extra scrutiny to tea party groups applying for federal tax exemptions. The Treasury Department's inspector general said in a report that the IRS' use of "inappropriate criteria"  ended in May 2012.

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Obama said Tuesday that he has directed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to hold IRS employees accountable for "these failures."

"But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong," Obama said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Billy Graham • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (1,354 Responses)
  1. pander bear

    Maybe they targeted you because you are a shameless hucksters hiding behind religion to promote your right wing agenda.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Erlo

      Spot on.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • All Relgion Is Fraud.

      Ya think?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  2. asdf

    Good! TAX THE CHURCHES!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  3. lol??

    Get real people. The regulators were just lookin' for the standard bribe from the regulated. Paul wouldn't ask fer a license.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Michael

    Richard Halverson who was chaplin of the senate for 20 years gave the quote when he called organized religion in America an enterprise. How true, how true.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  5. CBP

    Good grief. His ministries were sponsoring ads for political reasons. The question is why Mr. Graham believes there should be more than one group under the Graham ministries? What are the rules for non-profits and their political efforts? Is it a violation of their tax-exempt status? Is this just another opportunity to get into the spotlight?

    May 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  6. sheppard

    franklin's latest plea for attention...

    May 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  7. Michael

    Evangekical super rich promoters of the church and politics but mostly politics.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  8. Alias

    As people become more educated and ideas flow more freely between people, religion is on the decline in this country.
    I am very happy about it.
    Religious people are no more moral than athiests. Their organizations have had too much influence for too long, and this counrty will be better off when christians truely do become a hated minority.
    Well, pittied and laughed at minority, anyway.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Mark

      LOL the Graham ministries have done more to help people then you could ever dream of, they've made significant differences in the lives of poor people the world over. Opened their books and show where the donations go. The bible which is the no 1 seller world wide, where it's freely read human rights are the best. Where its been banned, atheist countries included, human rights are the worst. Your opinion doesn't have those type of facts. Celebrate the IRS playing policis, you think that is better for society? What a joke!

      May 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      LOL! they've done more to separate old women from their social security checks than any other organization. it's always funny how these evangelists, that take in so much money for "chairty", always wear $2K suits and rolexes, live in mansions and own a fleet of expensive cars.... it's almost like they give 10% of the money to charity and keep the rest for themselves.... hmmmm.....

      May 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Colin

      Mark, have you read the silly thing? The Bible is nothing more than Greko-Roman supersti.tion stapled to the back of late Iron Age mythology.

      Uless of course, you actually believe in food (or manna) falling from the sky, people living to be hundreds of years old, unicorns, witches, superhuman strength, a man living in a whale’s belly (or a fish’s or sea monster’s) for a few days, a talking donkey, giants, a talking snake, a Worldwide flood, a stick turning into a snake, a river turning to blood, the Red Sea splitting and a dry rock spewing forth water, and, of course, a man rising from the dead.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Not Alias

      So Alias, you are currently laughed at and deemed a moron because you dont believe in a God? That is why you are going by "alias" instead of your real name? LOL

      May 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Alias

      @ Mark
      As I am one individual, there are thousands of charities that have done more for people than I have. Not all of them use religion as a tool to reach their financial goals.
      Human rights are generally better where there is more freedom. I fail to see a relevant point unless you just get off stating the obvious.
      The IRS is not playing politics here – they are applying the rules.

      I will never cease to be amused by the shallow replies people post to truths they feel threatened by.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Religion is Fraud.

      @Mark
      Bill Gates has done more than Billy Graham or his son to help poor people. I know math is hard for some people, but do you really have to flaunt your ignorance this much?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Alias

      @not alias
      My alias is a witticism.
      Not surprised you missed it.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • sam

      Bill Gates doesn't insist you listen to him preach before he helps out...most religious organizations do.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Not Alias

      Looks like someone who claims to have no idea of the bible is picking verses from it and spouting them off.. Manna from heaven was what was fed to the Jews as they fled from Egypt and were brought by God back to the promised land. They were after all going through a desert and food was scarce if at all present. The whale and Jonah? That is God's doing as well.. he was against going to preach to the Ninevites, and God had him reflect while in the whale.. Giant? you mean Goliath? Well, he was no more bigger than probably the world's tallest man.. perhaps 9 feet tall or shorter.. We would call Shaq a giant, wouldn't we? Picture Shaq as Goliath in heavy armor and you get the idea. I would be intimidated facing Shaq in complete metal armor and I bet you would crap your pants. Donkeys talking? Never heard of that, but if it did happen, wouldn't surprise me one bit. You have heard of possession, haven't you? When spirits take possession of other bodies? That would just be a spirit taking possession of that donkey's body. In the bible, Jesus had the spirits removed and cast in pigs.. I suggest you read up on that.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Colin

      @Not Alias. Mythology is no less silly just because YOU believe it. That just means you are very easily fooled.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Paul

      Too bad there is zero evidence that the Jews were ever slaves in Egypt, or for them wandering in the desert for 40 years.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Paul

      Also there is no such things as demons or spirits that possess things.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  9. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Why shouldn't the IRS target a domestic terrorist group and all its mentall ill gun toting adulterous followers?

    May 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Religion is Fraud.

      YEAH! Damn well said!

      May 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    The IRS got to me when they found out about my income. Which I was legally obligated to report for some reason. Then they made me pay taxes.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • bp

      Me too! Don't they know government is supposed to provide all its services for free! Or, that only those who are rich enough to afford services themselves should get any?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  11. Get Over It

    Poor Franklin. Is he someone special?

    May 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  12. Patriot Act Conservative

    I said it then and I'll say it again, if you are innocent then what do you have to hide? Bring on the audits!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Left is right

      "If you are innocent, you have nothing to hide" has always been the false face of repressive regimes. You need a better ideology.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  13. Fred8680

    GOOD!!! I know it was said already..... but.... GOOD!!!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  14. The Beatles sing the Franklin Graham song!

    It's the song all the megachurches and Osteen pastors sing.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k5ooaufrLM&w=640&h=360]

    May 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  15. Get Over It

    Everyone should pay taxes. All these non-profits are just a scam.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Eddie

      Tell that to the Democrats that have no problem with the 47% of people that pay no taxes but are the takers.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • TC

      Wow. You mean that 47% of the able bodies population of working age don't work, and pay no taxes at all, including sales tax?

      Do you have proof?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Left is right

      Actually, the majority of those who pay no taxes under W Bushes tax laws were Republicans living on tax-free bonds.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • sam

      Eddie. Did you get kicked off the Fox 'news' site, or what?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Eddie

      No Sam, I got kicked off MSNBC. They couldn't handle the truth.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Eddie

      Sorry, TC. That's Federal taxes. Everyone knows we all pay sales tax and 47% pay no Federal taxes. Guess next time I'll draw you a picture so you'll get a better understanding how many of the hard working tax payer gets screwed.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • sheppard

      @Eddie – are you really as dumb as that post makes you sound? No need to answer...

      May 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • sam

      Eddie/Connie, being a rhetoric-spouting disingenious tool isn't going to do much for you on this site, either.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Eddie

      Well, my post sure got you to comment, shep, so who's the dumber one. No need to answer, we all know. LMAO

      May 15, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  16. mary

    GOOD~! These tv evangelists are nothing but performers.. A show.. And for this "show" they pass the plate.
    As far as I am concerned tv evangelists are on the same level as the tv psychic's..Charlatan's . Selling something people emotionally "need" ..

    May 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So because you don't like them you think the government should have free reign to repress them? I bet you're for gaay rights though aren't you?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Alias

      typical Bill.
      Doesn't have a valid argurment, so bring up something irrelevant like gay rights.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sorry Alias, didn't realize satire was beyond you. How about dem Juden though? They're screwing up the whole country.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • sam

      Don't get Bill started on gaay seex again, FFS.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Religion is Fraud.

      And fraud is illegal. You could never defend any belief in the supernatural in court and you know it. There are no gods.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Alias

      @Bill
      That was humor? Really?
      Okay then, would you please expalin how making them follow the rules is repressive?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      billy boy....they have every right to express themselves, even if i disagree. just like with you and gopher on gaay rights. what's the matter, billy boy, did the good father not give you the common courtesy of a reach-around during your last "confession"?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Eddie

      "something irrelevant like gay rights"........Hey Alias, why do you hate gays so much and so against their rights?

      May 15, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I'm sure Alias meant irrelevant to the current article / conversation.

      May 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  17. All Relgion Is Fraud.

    It is long past time to start taking these criminal organizations to court.
    These brainwashed victims don't need churches.
    They need psychiatric help. They need to be de-programmed.
    This is one of the biggest health problems humanity faces.
    All religions need to be destroyed. The brainwashing must STOP.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • mary

      Belief in a creator has nothing to do with people who exploit it for their own benefit.. You can't deny the possibility of God just because people use his name to do all manner of evil.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Entil'Zha

      Oddly enough, it would seem that humanity and religion has done well together. Much more successful than humanity without any aspect of religion.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Religion is Fraud.

      Oddly enough, Entllza, you would be utterly and demonstrably wrong yet again. The opposite is true, in fact.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Entil'Zha

      "The opposite is true, in fact."

      Really? Out of the hundreds and thousands of human civilizations that have existed, could you name some that have been successful that had NO aspect of religion within them? It should be quite easy for you yes?

      Of course some of the successful human civilizations that did have religion within are: Roman Empire, Egyptian Dynastic Empire, Greek, Aztec, British...etc.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Religion is Fraud.

      Since none of those civilizations have been "successful" based upon any magic, you fail to make your point.
      Thanks for playing.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Entil-Zha

      "Since none of those civilizations have been "successful" based upon any magic, you fail to make your point.
      Thanks for playing."

      Wait..what was that? Oh, you couldn't name any civilizations that were successful without religion being within them? Well...it was obvious that you wouldn't be able to.

      Oh..I see, you decided to change up the criteria and do it very badly. No one said anything about any civlization being successful because of magic. NOT ONE PERSON beyond yourself.

      Now if you want to play the game correctly and show how you are incorrect in your position, try to name any successful civilization that never had religion within it. You do understand the question right? If not...just ask for clarification.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  18. Bootyfunk

    just because you believe in magic doesn't mean you shouldn't pay taxes.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Entil'Zha

      I don't think that's why the Founding Fathers was thinking when they created the laws of our nation.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Josh

      Says bootyfunk.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  19. anchorite

    Sorry, the IRS is supposed to "target" political organizations masquerading as churches. They should be charging you every bit of taxes they charge MoveOn. Pay your fair share like the left does!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • ECassious2

      Actually, the IRS is not suppose to do what they were doing which is why it has become such a story. Perhaps nothing will come of Pastor Grahams complaint, but I would slow up on giving a blanket support of IRS actions. They have obviously gone over the line.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Religion is Fraud.

      The only thing the IRS did wrong was use the wrong sort of filter when processing the names of the organizations, not the ideologies or politics of the organizations. They were looking for key words without any reason to do so, as having something like any particular word in the ttle of your company doesn't correlate with tax fraud in and of itself.
      This was a smoke blind thrown up to distract from other things....and you all fell for it big time.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  20. Fluffy

    I think all "religious" organizations claiming exemption should be reviewed. Could it be that conservative "religious" organizations more flagrantly engage in politics? Could their behavior be to blame? I don't buy the idea of any of these groups being about God, goodness or whatever, but I just wonder how often you would see more tolerant religious organizations telling people who to vote for. I don't think *any* religions should have tax exempt status in any case. That would remove this issue once and for all, and they could engage in any wonton politicing they desired to.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.