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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. brad

    It might be wise for these cons to not bring attention to themselves. I bet if we really checked what they are doing they would be going straight to jail without passing Go.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Doug

      Brad, you sound like a really nice and non-judgemental kind of guy. you must be a lot of fun to be around.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  2. Gloscher

    Franklin has the standard 'do, and the standard con man's subdued smile but the eyes don't match the expression of the rest of the face. He'll easily get money from foolish old ladies anyway when he spouts about god and HeyZeus.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • lol??

      Bright side, foolish ol' ladies ain't killin' children in their wombs.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Chuck88888

      Obama has the standard 'do, and the standard con man's subdued smile but the eyes don't match the expression of the rest of the face. He'll easily get money from foolish young ladies anyway when he spouts about hope and change.

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

      Nice try, asshole, but I was first. And your side lost the election, you loser.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  3. Oh well....

    CREFALO DOLLAR doesn't pay taxes ????? oh my... he must have learned that scam in the big house...Prophets for profit ....

    May 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • lol??

      Ever wonder 'bout that name?? Almost like Bernie Madoff with the dough.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • .

      Weiner

      May 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • .

      Weiner, the one-act johnson

      May 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  4. lol??

    Waiver Mania is desperately needed in times like these.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  5. tony

    Oh Jaime, as a non-atheist who posts strongly in support of your belief, would you please finally answer this question?

    How is the god who gave us the recent Tsunamis, with hundreds of thousands of innocents drowned, and also parted the red sea, a loving god?

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

      I think all you're going to get is one of Jaimie's greatest hits – "Blow away."

      May 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I'll tell you something else. The people in my office like the air conditioner set 2 degrees below what like. How can God allow that?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Answer

      When the police ask you for your insurance papers make sure you claim that your god has already paid that premium. You wouldn't want to prove to yourself that your god isn't all that powerful afterall...

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

      Bill they're probably just trying to offset the global warming god started.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Doug

      Romans 1:16-32

      May 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • sam

      Doug, that's not good enough. You're going to need to copy/paste the verse if you want to be one of the cool kids.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  6. Oh well....

    Great, The Church and the Tea Party all get to go tax free...no agendas here....the rest of us get to pick up the tab collectively ....

    May 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      A great many other groups go tax free that others do not like .... and we are all picking up the tab for them.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Chuck88888

      They are non-profits, i.e they have no profit or income to be taxed. What is your agenda other than raging anti-Christian, anti-consevative bigotry?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • @chad

      They are non-profits

      That's some funny shit right there.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Religion is Fraud.

      @Mark from Middle River
      So you agree that tax cuts are a de-facto subsidy of the organizations?
      Because government subsidizing any religion is illegal.
      Care to explain this conundrum?

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

      @Chuck – how is that comment 'raging' or 'bigotry' or any of the other BS you listed? Is this your first day on the internet?

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

      @Chuck, For me the issue is property taxes, not income. My house is not making a profit, but neither is the curch down the street. We both get city and state services and should be paying for them equally along with all other properties.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sara, trying to dialogue with you because you've been a reasonable opponent in the past. It seems a lot of people conflate the establishment clause with the Johnson amendment. They seem to feel that a transgression of the Johnson Act not only invalidates tax exempt status but then by extension government should levy taxes against the church in violation of the establishment clause. All of this seems to ignore the history of Church and State cooperation dating back centuries and outlined by such luminaries as Luther, Locke, and Madison who described the relationship as "two spheres of influence" or "two swords of authority".

      Can you speak to the idea that churches should not be taxed because they cannot be taxed by virtue of the historical agreements made granting both Church and State co-status albeit distinct authority?

      May 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  7. lol??

    How much do the pols charge fer a plate of rubbery chicken??

    May 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  8. Jaimie

    Bless this ministry.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Eddie B

      YEP BLESS THOSE WHO COME TO cHRIST DUE TO HIS MINISTRY BUT HE SHOULD NOT BE TAX EXSEMPTED

      May 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Dippy

      Eddie, turn off your fucking caps lock. And learn to spell.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Emma

      GAG! lose the worship, grow a brain, study astrophysics

      May 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • sam stone

      take him home with extreme prejudice

      May 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  9. Reckless

    Probably not the best spokesperson for people being persecuted

    May 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Chuck88888

      Why? Even the Great Obama has admitted that the IRS was wrong. Doesn't Mr. Graham have a right to voice his concern?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      No, Liberal Atheist switch back and forth on their love and hate for Oba.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  10. lol??

    Shameless bribe seekin' borderin' on entrapment.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  11. tallulah13

    If the church was dabbling in things that violated it's tax-free status, it should absolutely be investigated. It makes me sick that these prophets-for-profit think that they are above the law.

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

      Devil worshipers get the non tax status also. What a shame.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • lol??

      Tums is yer friend.

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

      Prophets – for -profits- Most excellent

      Some other rip-off artists:

      Glen Beck, $32 million in 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/08/glenn-beck-earned-32-mill_n_529903.html

      and from guidestar.org

      Rev. Franklin Graham $800,000+/yr.
      Rev. Billy Graham, $400,000/yr
      Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield $331,708/yr
      Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, $200,000/yr
      Erica Brown $134,221/yr
      Eboo Patel $120,000/yr and his “non-profit’s” investment portfolio of $1.2 million
      Dr. Herb Silverman $100,000/yr. ?
      Imam Rauf and his wife Daisy, $400,000/yr/ea estimated

      Susan Jacoby ????

      May 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • sam stone

      why is it a shame, jamie?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  12. PSPoolside

    If he's running political ads it's entirely appropriated that he be asked to explain the financing by the IRS. A tax exemption doesn't free you from obeying tax laws.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  13. Fred Evil

    Good, they should. You deserve it, scammer!
    TAX ALL CHURCHES!!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  14. DGrove

    I supported the Graham Ministry until Franklin became very active politically.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Any domestic terrorist group that threatens civil war, assassination, secession, intimidation and acts of terror should be tergeted. After all, its in GWB's Patriot Act!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Chuck88888

      You mean like Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Ouch Chuck....that was below the belt.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      No, I mean like Sara Palin painting crosshairs on Congresswoman Giffords' district with the words "Don't retreat, Reload," thereby inspiring a lunatic gunman to go on a shooting rampage, leaving six dead and Mrs. Giffords crippled for life.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • sly

      I agree Chuck – the Republicans should open up hearings into the Weather Underground, and how much taxes they paid back in 1969 when they were around.

      I am all for spending my tax dollars researching the 1969 tax payments of the Weather Underground.

      Good idea Chuck. Money well spent.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Let's investigate the Underground Slave Trade and the taxes red states didn't pay for the FREE slave labor!

      May 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  16. tony

    Without the collection plate money, this slacker would have to get a job. And pay taxes like the good people in this world.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  17. sly

    Where is His birth certificate? As an American, I demand to see and hold his birth certificate. This is an outrage. We should all be outraged!

    Donald Trump should be our next President – he is honest, and hard working, and we've seen his birth certificate.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • The Donald

      I am very very very very pleased and very very happy and proud right now. So let me just tell everyone here how very very proud and very very happy everyone here knows that I am. It is a proud and very happy situation for me and I am honored and very proud.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • bill.x

      DONALD – I think he got that from seeing the Donald Duck cartoon from when we were kids, where the duck gets some kind of price.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  18. to the dullards

    churches are not taxable just because you say so. get over your ignorance,fools!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • idolatry on the loose

      sure , dan, john. jack, mary and faith have something to say about this

      May 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      You're right, they're not taxable due to someone simply saying it but they are potentially taxable once they cross the line of separation of church and state and in turn violate the constitution.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • 90212

      Yeah, those mad cows can chew, they can moo, all day long, all night long and waste their lives. Bottom line, churches are not taxable.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • some responses are just too brilliant!

      speechless!!!

      May 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • lol??

      Line?? You'll have to ask LBJ 'bout that line. He needed it to build the Great Society. We grate, ya heh??

      May 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "Bottom line, churches are not taxable."

      The second they violate the constitution they risk losing their tax exempt status. By publicly speaking about issues that are handled by the government and by publicly taking a side in politics they are crossing the line.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • lol??

      Well, give us a XEROX of yer bottom, Tuts.

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

      Uh, TruthPrevails, our laws don't work that way. I love Canada. It is like America's hat. But you don't get how our laws work, I guess. Please stay on topics you know well. Thank you.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  19. Answer

    If you believe that your god exists and that it is all powerful ... then why don't you summon up the courage to believe that it too has paid all your taxes for you also?

    –Could it be that you can't get away with that excuse? XD

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

      Blow away atheist.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • tony

      Oh Jaime, as a non-atheist who posts, in support of your belief, would you please finally answer this question?

      How is the god who gave us the recent Tsunamis, with hundreds of thousands of innocents drowned, and also parted the red sea, a loving god?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Blow away atheist."

      get off your knees, gash

      May 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  20. bill.x

    Mr. Graham you are a right wing political hack, and these groups are how you get you message out – at tax payer's expense. To you, access to God has a price and peons pay to see you play.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
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About this blog

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.