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. Patrick Donovan

    Franklin Graham is in no way a copy of his Father. He is very political and he is just trying to get some attention. I do not trust the man and he should be audited as his ministry is more a political action committe than a social, religious service organization. Religion has turned into a business and is far from the scope of what it once was.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      May 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Don

      "The organizations, both of which are run by Graham, later received notice that they remain eligible for federal tax exemptions, he said." (paragraph 6)

      Do any of you even bother to read the whole article?

      May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |

      He is a preacher of hindu Mithra ism, racist savior ism of hindu dark ages, in violation of human equality, hall mark of American consti tution. Deserves to be locked up for violating laws of the land.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  2. Don

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
    ---Martin Niemöller

    You christian haters don't seem to understand that if they take away the tax exempt status of churches they will have to take away the tax exept status of many many liberal organizations.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Answer

      Republicans (the old school kind) made sure for themselves that they don't die poor.

      Conservatives are always looking for ways to say that it is a "liberal agenda" to strip everyone of their wealth.

      It's so hilarious.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • sam

      Hyperventilate more, Don. Maybe get even more riled up about nothing, hop up and down. What we really need you to do right now is solve this whole thing by posting that one line you like from the article followed by a bible quote that has nothing to do with anything.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Paul

      Every person, organization, or business should have to pay taxes. If one person or group has to pay them then everyone should.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Dat

      Everyone who can afford to pay should pay.
      Our tax code is illegal and violates the 14th Amendment's "equality under the law" for everyone regardless of ideology.
      Why do railroad workers get tons of special tax breaks? Because of robber barons not wanting to pay their fair share.
      Why do so many special interest groups lobby for tax breaks? Because nobody has the guts to shut them down.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Don

      Sam--- and perhaps if your remove your head from your nether region and get just a little more oxygen to your brain, then maybe, just maybe, you can say something intelligent

      May 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • sam

      I was hoping for better from you, Don.

      C'mon, just one little bible quote, I'm sure it'll make you feel better.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Why do people keep using the word hate instead of disagree?

      May 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Do you really think that people wanting churches to be taxed would all of a sudden get up in arms if your va/gue "liberal orgs" also were taxed when they previously weren't?

      Please, tell me a liberal organization that isn't taxed that a person on here would defend why it shouldn't be taxed while churches should be.

      Name just one.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  3. Jules

    Franklin Grahm does not keep his not for profits out of politics. His organizations should be investigated.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  4. Fab S.

    Herbert Walker had "W", now Billy has Franklin.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Erik in Houston,TX

      Well said.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  5. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    In this case, given Mr. Graham's rhetoric in the last election, i'd be perfectly willing to let the IRS have this one.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  6. Answer

    Here is the perspective on change... adopt it and get used to it.

    You will realize these facts that will change our society in the future.

    The population of our society will escalate in numbers. The conclusion of how many people can we, humans, support will hit you squarely on the head. How much food can we all produce to give everyone a decent meal to continue on living. How much fresh water can we save? How much more can we produce to share to ourselves?

    Reality WILL restricts our government to enact measures to keep our populations down. China had it's one child protocol. When will that come over to the Americas? .... it will be in the future.

    Your religious views will fall flat on it's face – guaranteed. You views on abortion that you think are a godly sin will be shattered. Outdated.

    Your views on assisted suicide will be rolled under the reality of real values. The value of a healthy human being will outweigh the assistance to a cripple. The mentally challenged will be forgotten. The future will change us. You better start teaching your kids to grow up on how to adopt better agreements made by mankind because your gods are all dead.. or soon will be.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Gman10

      My God is alive, has always been alive, and will always be alive long after this earth is gone.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm |

    Targeting or no targeting, every one is equal under the law, and it is no one else s domain but responsible department of government to implement equally, law of the land. Neither so called religious organizations have status of hindu sanatans, crook goons to be free of over sight, nor have any right to be chosen one, by hindu secularist, self centered, denier of truth absolute GOD, foundation of America. Every one must be treated equally under the law, and no one need to cry hinduism, foul, for being investigated, or may be cry of hinduism, foul is to hide some thing, they do not want others to know.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

      Infidel heart is Halal, hindu secular for stir fry, ism, eat heart not hind.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

      Spew your hinduism, absurdities under your own ID, hindu ignorant.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Answer

      The sh!t that is islam will always be sh!t.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • mama k

      Hey Islamabot! How's life in NM? Did you hear, the new Wash. Post poll shows an increase of ten percent in two years (to 56%) for approval for gay marriage in Virginia? What was that you were saying about Virginians being so "God-fearing"??

      May 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • mama k

      And you know, Islamabot that Virginia is birthplace to eight U.S. presidents including the father of our Constitution, so you might want to rethink that crazy moniker of yours – lol.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  8. Steve

    As far as I'm concerned these businesses should not only be targeted but either treated as the businesses they are and pay taxes or shut down.

    I'm sick of these organizations hiding behind their gods and making money while doing so. They are a fraud, and only serve their own agendas whilst the sheeple that buy into their brain washing messages throw money into the collection plates on Sunday mornings.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • sam

      They give back more to the community at helping the needy.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @Sam: usually "helping the needy" is accompanied by a large dose of converting the needy to one's religion. It's not selfless helping, there is always the ulterior motive.

      "Helping the needy" is just marketing for the religion!

      May 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • LikeItOrNot

      Whether you like it or not, the law allows them to function.

      And the IRS does not have the authority to harass them because they don't like it either.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Dat

      Those laws are unconstltutional and should all be challenged in court so they can be overturned.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Concerns about his rising financial compensation during tough economic times have prompted evangelist Franklin Graham to temporarily give up future contributions to his retirement plans at the two Christian charities he leads.

    As president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, he receives two full-time salaries and two retirement packages. Last year his total compensation from the two Christian ministries was $1.2 million.

    The size of Graham's total 2008 compensation – $535,000 from Samaritan's Purse and $669,000 from Charlotte, N.C.-based BGEA – drew questions from nonprofit experts. They doubted that one person – even the energetic, globe-trotting Graham – can do two full-time jobs when those positions are head of organizations that employ hundreds and spend hundreds of millions around the world.

    As head of the Boone, N.C.-based Samaritan's Purse, Graham earned more last year than any other leader of an international relief agency based in the United States. That includes eight with larger budgets, according to data compiled by Guidestar, a group that monitors non-profits.

    Graham acknowledged last week that his compensation total "looks terrible" and that "people won't understand it."

    McClatchy-Tribune News Service

    May 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  10. Frank Johnson

    Franklin Graham should be listed as a "hate group" and I don't think hate groups should get tax exempt status!!

    May 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Jack

      Please quit calling mainstream religious organizations "hate groups". The Taliban is a hate group....the KKK is a hate group....the Black Panthers are a hate group. Mainstream christianity is NOT a hate group....neither is Judism for that matter. To say so is far from the truth and you have no substantial basis for this so called "label". While there are always some bad apples in our so called "group".....it's an extreme minority.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  11. TomGI

    All churches should be under the close scrutiny of this IRS including the 'mock' churches like Scientology.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Jack

      I absolutely agree......regarding scientology.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • G to the T

      Jack – hey Jack! phone call for you... someone named "kettle" I believe?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  12. Bill Deacon

    Suck it athiests!
    This is the first sign that we have reached a turning point in this country.
    The good God fearing Christians finally have enough support in Washington to start to turn this country around!
    The court will strike down gay marriage.
    Religious leaders will be able to preach moral lessons on today's topics.
    Perverts will be called out like the swine they are.
    The end to killing unborn babbies is in sight.


    May 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • TomGI


      May 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      BD the troll strikes again

      May 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Alias

      I like this BD much better than the other one.
      This one is smarter.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • sam

      Ah, our little fit-throwing troll is back.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      This is fake bill.
      Bill is certainly deluded, very often wrong but can't see it, and sticks up for one of the most evil and corrupt organizations that ever existed, but he doesn't write like that.

      Just a troll stealing Bills (good?) name.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • John

      I'm not an atheist, but you are psychotic.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Matt

      FU christian filth....go 2nd amendment yourself.

      May 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Frank

      Ill second that "AMEN"!

      May 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Becuase "God fearing Christians" have traditionally under-represented in the US government.
      If only there could be an openly Christian president!
      After all, white, christian, land owning males weren't even allowed to vote until 1776,

      May 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Frank

      FU MATT you low class, punk POS!

      May 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Demonfeed

      All of this anger from the right... You guys seem to think god is going to strike Obama down, but it isn't going to happen. Gay marriage is going to pass next month, the stock market is doing amazingly well, half of Texas is on fire, and religious organizations that were fraudulently filing for tax exempt status were denied. God doesn't seem to be on your side, especially not over the last 5 years. Maybe it's all of the hate speech?

      May 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Jack

      ....this is a textbook example of the "bad apple minority" I was referring to in my response to Frank. This is hatred.....and has no place in the faith of christianity.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      This has got to be the easiest stie to troll EVER.

      Or there are enough total wack jobs on here that it is the hardest .....

      I'll keep you all posted on what I decide.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

      How is babby made? You micro encephalic fecal brained Imbecile.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  13. Andre( stupid ni**ger) HIMES

    Crimes of genocide had been committed against Black America .In a attempt to do the bidding of the white feminists as well as those of the satanist from the deep south who have a long history of embracing white supremacy ,BILL CLINTON(the beast of revelation chapter 13) and his fallen black antebellum and hip hop angels have a made a strategic miscal culation ,since ANDRE HIMES miraculous survival in the future will be insrtumental in leading many to the LORD JESUS CHRIST and who has been guarding his life since the day he was born at Shaw Air FORCE Base on April 30 1965.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  14. Frank Johnson

    Franklin Graham, one of the country's most prominent evangelicals ....????? HUH??? he is the "wanna-be" son and always will be!

    May 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      May 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Frank

      You would have to have some class and morals to understand that you atheist POS!

      May 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  15. KitVA

    Surprise, a tax exempt charity classified as a 501(c)(3) organization that spent money on political campaigns and lobbying was audited for said lobbying as they are heavily restricted to the amount of finances that can be spent on such activities under law.

    To anyone that doesn't know, a 501(c)(3) absolutely, under law, can not support or oppose a specific political candidate and are additionally limited in the amount of money they can spend per year on political lobbying for specific legislation. His actions in the adds that were placed are the direct cause of the audit, and were completely justified under the tax exempt status that his group is eligible for.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  16. Boytjie


    Yet I'm sure none of you mind ACORN being a 501c...The new liberal mantra – everything under the sun is great, as long as it supports our ideology.
    Keep flogging that dead horse. ACORN is dead, gone, no more, it has ceased to exist.
    From Wikipedia:
    "Following the publication of the videos and withdrawal of funding, four different independent investigations by various state and city Attorneys General and the GAO released in 2009 and 2010 cleared ACORN, finding its employees had not engaged in criminal activities and that the organization had managed its federal funding appropriately, and calling the videos deceptively and selectively edited to present the workers in the worst possible light. Despite this, by March 2010, 15 of ACORN's 30 state chapters had already closed and the group announced it was closing its remaining state chapters and disbanding."

    May 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  17. T

    .............When a present TAX EXEMPT charity begins supporting or railing against political differences......THEY MUST LOSE THEIR CHARITY STATUS.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Jack

      .....really?!?!? Wow.......WOW!!!

      May 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  18. AbleWitness

    Anti-religion is a religion. Members of the Materialist Religion are as dogmatic if not more dogmatic than anything I've witnessed coming from Born-Agains. Materialism is the belief in the essential infallibility of the senses. It also holds to the concept that the dimensions we are aware of are all that exist. String theory is more plausible if there exist 11 (eleven) dimensions and that troubles some members of the Materialist Church (they gather at universities it seems). What's wrong with an infinite number of dimensions / universes? Assuming that humans can understand their core reality is a religious belief.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      - Penn Jillette

      May 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Frank

      Collecting stamps? Goof. If you dont believe in God THEN DONT! And stay the phuk out the other 80% of the world THAT DOES BELIEVE !


      May 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Dan

      Just like disinfectant is an infectant, right AbleWitness?

      May 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  19. CommonSensed

    Well, yeah. Hop on the band wagon and keep begging for tax havens for your cults.


    May 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Boss

      Look at all the bigot pagans! Good luck... You will need it!

      May 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  20. Dyslexic doG

    Franklin Graham is the ultimate media who.re! He can't stand even a few days out of the spotlight.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:44 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.