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
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(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. Vince

    Good! And I hope it continues. If your going to make politcal statements and run ads supporting or opposing political positions...your "church" or "ministry" should pay taxes.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  2. Cuckooo

    They "targeted" you because you're tax cheats.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  3. joe

    The Grahams should be subject to closer scrutiny. I've always had a gut feeling that they were sanctimonious frauds.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  4. mhub

    This is crap – every criminal thinks that they are being targeted. If they don't look for infractions, how can they do their jobs? This whole pile of BS about some group being 'targeted' is non-sense. More whining from conservatives.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • A Conversation

      "This whole pile of BS about some group being 'targeted' is non-sense." Except, of course, for the IRS admitting that it did just that. Right?

      May 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  5. William Demuth

    About damn time

    Next Obama should have Seal Team Six target this parasitic dog.

    He and his whole family are an abomination on our culture, and need to be cast back into the Bronze Age from whence they came.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  6. patty

    There are 2 different tax exempt statuses. one does not allow for political endorsements, but the other does, as long as the organization is primarily dedicated to social welfare.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Do as I say, not as I do

      Correct...And as a group that is supposed to be doing PRIMARILY social work....Why is so much money going to endorse political candidates? When they spend enormous dollars on political ads, they voluntarily assume the right that the IRS has the RESPONSIBILITY to the American people to audit them to make sure they are not stealing from us.

      Guess what REAL charities do, they spend every hour of their day HELPING people. This is the OPPOSITE of helping people.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • patty

      you may disagree with Franklin Graham, but the billy graham organization and Samaritans purse ARE legitimate charities that are doing a whole lot of excellent work. Politics is not their primary focus. they were not charged with any wrong doing. they did not lose their tax exempt status. you have a right to disagree with them since we are still a free country at the moment, but they aren't doing anything wrong or illegal.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Dat

      They are committing fraud. That is still illegal isn't it?

      This is a case of being "too religious to prosecute", in that most DAs won't touch a case of religion being fraud no matter how egregious or obvious.

      Basically, since religion is fraud, freedom of religious expression is freedom to commit fraud using religion as the means.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  7. Do as I say, not as I do

    PAUL – your post just made my head explode.

    CONSERVATIVES are the group that is ANTI-Regulation and created this problem. Now you are complaining about the lack of regulation that was caused in the first place by said DE-Regulation?

    May 15, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Answer

      It has always been about trying to get what you want and "s-c-r-e-w the laws that you get in your way."

      May 15, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Dat


      May 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  8. Do as I say, not as I do


    Why are Tea Party groups (who want SMALLER government) applying for TAX EXEMPT Status in the first place? If these organizations would stop abusing the system they are complaining about, the IRS (who abused their rights) wouldn't have to look into this in the first place (which is their job)? Tax exempt status is NOT for a group that performs political activities, it's for SOCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS, which is what the Tea Party groups do not support.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Sid Stewart

      isn't is possible for any political group to be taxed exempt? why the hatred?

      May 15, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • sam

      Apparently true patriots like to show how dedicated they are...by not paying taxes.

      May 15, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • sam

      Sid...people you disagree with are not automatically giving out 'hatred'. Are you new to the internet?

      May 15, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  9. gf333

    Franklin Graham: Shoot, I'd target you too. Here you are with a non-profit organization where you take donations to help poor people ... and yet you get a six-figure salary from it multiple times over? Hmm. On top of which, you previously received an additional six-figure salary multiple times over for supposedly running Billy Graham's organization? So, 2 full-time jobs, really? Both non-profits living on donations? And both with six-figure salaries? A good point to mention here is the second salary you eventually gave up. Was it because you decided you didn't deserve that with your own conscience? Nope. It was because of public outcry against it. Now that's sad.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Sid Stewart

      how do you know his salary? proof please

      May 15, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Dat

      guidestar.org lists lots of verified data. Reality uses it alot. I checked it out. They are as legit a source for what big names are getting paid as you could hope for. But then you weren't really serious, were you Sid? You're just one of the trolls. Swain, topher, chad, fred, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera....just pretending to be the stupidest dipwad on the planet while advocating for the most insane stupid things anyone could think of, just to waste everyone's time for nothing really worth it. Sad.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Dat

      By the way, I'm not the original poster. Sorry if my words made it sound that way.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  10. buzz

    he's an anti-Christ creep!

    May 15, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  11. Sid Stewart

    I wonder if the IRS targeted the Rainbow Coalition (Jesse jackson) or Sharpton's group?

    May 15, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • heh

      Maybe they are political groups that didnt apply for non-political tax exempt status?

      May 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  12. Anderson Dwight

    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

    Sounds like a perfectly reasonable response by the president.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • HotAirAce

      But I believe those statements were relevant to the Tea Baggers / right wing episodes, which have already been investigated, at least to some extent. Now we have a delusional charlatan yelling "Me too!" He might be right, but there's no evidence of that at this time.

      May 15, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  13. buzz

    This Graham guy is creepy/wolf in sheep clothing/two-faced/fork tongue creep!!

    May 15, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  14. LCD

    Spare us, Frank. Shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings I received a letter from Franklin Graham, detailing how his group from Samaritan's Purse went to the school to offer aid and comfort to the injured and traumatized, which I thought was quite admirable. Ultimately, however, this was a request to send money to his organization, not for memorials for the Virginia Tech victims. I understand they need funding to keep on doing what they do, but I thought it was in exceedingly poor taste to lump his fund drive on the backs of shooting victims. I have continued sending items for the children's Xmas boxes, but I will not give this huckster a dime. He is no Billy Graham.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  15. Sid Stewart

    such a difference in CNN reader comments than the FOX.com readers; you folks bette pay attention; give the IRS an inch and they will become rulers.

    Graham did nothing wrong but express their views on morality.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Tom

      That would be interesting to see, except that FOX no longer has a blog section on thier webpage. They dont like thier proaganda watered down with anyone elses opinions

      May 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  16. keeth

    Franklin Graham is a nutjob.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Sid Stewart

      anyone in Christianity is a nut job to you; your problem is not Graham but morality and accountability

      May 15, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • whaaaaa?

      Today's judgmental moron is Sid, apparently.

      May 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  17. buzz

    IGet over it, the IRS target a lot of people not just tea party wing nuts! Stop your whinning!!!!

    May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  18. cvryder2000

    The IRS targeted Franklin Graham rightly, as he is using his "ministry" for political purposes.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  19. 9th amendment

    Graham is a born liar.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  20. Paul

    There is a saying " To my friends the law, to my enemies the accuracy of the law" . There is a police officer that stays around churches on Sundays to give tickets to Chistians going to church. During the week we never see him on that spot. Is he doing his job? The point is that we can apply the law with rigidity or not depending on how we want to do.
    The New York police spots small robbers of purses and neglect the big ones that steal big time in Wall street.
    Who can hire a better lawyer gets free. This is the power of money.
    The IRS should investigate the Federal Reserve system that is just a group of private bankers without any accountability. No one knows who owns the Federal Reserve system or where the money goes.

    May 15, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      The Federal Reserve System is owned by a private cartel of banking families that includes the Carnegies, Rothschilds and Mellons among other stockholders. These groups also control most of the central banks in the democratized world. The IRS is their collection agent and guard dog. Not likely that the dog will bark at the master.

      May 15, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • G to the T

      Is he targeting christians because he has something against them, or is he targeting an area because he knows that the people attending that church seem to think the parking codes don't apply to them on a consistent basis?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:59 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.