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. ab

    Inspector General's report raises questions about IRS explanation of why it targeted conservative groups — when a bigger increase in tax-exempt applications was coming from groups that included labor organizations.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  2. Science

    Hey faith................someone has to pay the bills ...............with taxes.


    Check it out cool science..................the url. above .


    May 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |


    May 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  3. Duane Allen

    ALL churches (or their clergy) who are acting as political mouthpieces or Sunday soapboxes espousing a political agenda or even hinting ballot box directives should permanently lose their tax exempt status. They should be scrutinized, monitored and continually investigated by the IRS to determine if, at any time, they are in violation of those laws granting them tax exemption. This problem has been created (and exacerbated) by the SCOTUS decision re Citizens United. The IRS IS DOING ITS JOB! If you want to restore true representative democracy to the U.S you need to get active and loud in support of publicly funded campaigns as the EXCLUSIVE way that our political candidates/campaigns are financed. Fact is: Franklin Graham is just a money changer in the temple. He is so far removed from the example set by Jesus Christ he shouldn't be allowed to preach.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Bill

      You shouldn't harass people who obey the law, you should change the law.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  4. lol??

    Christians, it's a sign it's time to go underground, unless you think it's OK to go to the ovens. 'Sides the mob doesn't like to lose.

    "Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

    May 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.
      – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

      May 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Her = Catholic Church

      just an FYI, thought you should know.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  5. Dyslexic doG

    Christianity is nothing more than a pagan religion that caught on. It has its roots in other, older pagan religions that were common in the Mediterranean region before the supposed life of Jesus. There isn't a single original thing about it. Every tenant, and every story is borrowed from other religions. From the Garden of Eden, to the Great Flood, to the virgin birth, to the miracles, to the resurrection – all borrowed concepts from other religions.

    Mark wrote the first gospel several decades after the supposed life of Jesus – yet he is able to quote him, word for word? How is that? He never met him. And the other three gospels were copied from Mark. Whether Jesus was divine, or just a prophet, was an item of debate amongst early followers, and wasn't decided for good until the council of Nicea in the fourth century. It was put to a vote, and "divine" won by a narrow margin! A vote!

    Christianity is no different than astrology, fairy tales, and psychics. It's nothing but a conglomeration of myths, perpetuated by those craving money and power.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Every statement you made is absolutely the truth, this in my mind does not rule out the existance of a higher power at all. We all are spirituatl creatures but to wrap our spiritual self in a cloak of Bronze age myths and then translate, retranslate and modernize the stories and call them something different is an insult to all humans.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  6. Gman10

    Obviously, it appears there is a large group of commenters that have either never been to church or have not set foot in a church in years or are angry at the church. You shouldn't comment on something you know nothing about. "Judge not lest ye be judged."

    May 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      We don't need to go to church to be touched by your religion. We live in the USA where we are oppressed by much of the populous using the Bible and Christianity as justification for the oppression. Is it any wonder we comment on this bronze age, nonsensical voodoo the way we do?

      May 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Dan

      No judging here, just a basic reading of our constltution. This is a civil government created for all of us, not some, not a few but all. I don't have to step into a Church to understand that basic concept and neither should you. It's 3rd grade comprehension. Now as soon as you take sides and become a partisan I understand you want to fight for your side, but unless that side is to fight for the rights of all Americans, to fight for equality and to end discrimination then you are on the wrong side of history so don't get all weepy whiny when you lose.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • sam

      Gman, you just judged! I see what you did there.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm |

    Religious organizations run business in free market and compete with small business with tax exempt status, They need to be treated, same as any other business to take out unfair advantages they enjoy to drive small business out of busines.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  8. McShannon

    I don't see Franklin Graham's claim as anything but to avoid the consequences of a religious organization having a political agenda. Mitt Romney visits him and gives a donation and Franklin immediately ran a political ad in the New York Times. Preach politics from the pulpit and pay the price of loss of tax exemption it's plain and simple.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      May 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Gman10

      Should this also apply to Rev. Wright and all of the black churches who openly supported Obama from the pulpit?

      May 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • G to the T

      Gman – Yup. Color of the pastor doesn't make any difference. Political affiliation doesn't make any difference.

      I think everyone's getting hung up on this "liberal" v "consertative" crap. Neither "camp" could ever encompass all of my political views (without ceasing to be "liberal" or "conservative" by their own estimations). I constantly amazed at the "Atheist" = "Liberal" assumptions being made around here...

      May 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  9. happyyellowsmiles

    So, conservative groups were targeted...Good. Maybe they were doing things that were sketchy. Maybe, just MAYBE, investigatiing them en masse was actually appropriate. Maybe there was reason to do it en masse, and maybe Boehner can just shut the hell up about someone going to jail.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  10. whoknew

    Uh-oh.......spaghettios! Just keep in mind people, Franklin Graham in no way represents the same man that Billy Graham is/was. Sadly, this is who he has to leave his legacy too.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  11. H. Mulford

    I guess it was because you supported Romnuts and that equates to child molestation, you dumb fu8k!

    May 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  12. Jay

    If this man is so Christian, then why is he casting stones?

    May 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  13. Billy bob

    Good for the IRS! Hope you get 'em next time.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • lol??

      Poor Al, the only way they could get him.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  14. JD the Redneck

    Yay for the IRS. Someone in that organization is showing some real backbone taking on those who abuse the religious exemptions to our tax code. Thank GOD for civil servants who take their public protection roles seriously. People who abuse the faith of others for greed or personal power need to be challenged.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • allens

      i could not agree more. why hasn't the catholic church been charged under the rico act? it was certainly a conspiracy to hide criminal activity. why do they still have their tax exempt status? oh i forgot, who wants to be the politician that did the right thing and went after these churches for their illegal activities. as with most of what is wrong with our country, it can be laid to rest at the feet of our elected who-es

      May 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • lol??

      What about yer still and those spirits?? Confused??

      May 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  15. Odo

    Well since your "ministries" push your political agenda your tax free status SHOULD be reviewed.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  16. Bob

    Great! – now every conservative man and their dog is going to come crawling out of the woodwork claiming to have been "targeted" by the IRS.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  17. Dyslexic doG

    Franklin Graham is a media who.re!

    May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  18. But if we Tax the Church...

    ... how will they pay off the victims of their abuse? $3.3 billion spent in just the last 15 years alone, an estimated $6 billion total paid by the Catholic Church in the last 30 years. What productive programs could have been paid for by those dollars if they had been paid in taxes? Certainly would have been better spent than to keep the parents of buggered children quiet.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • allens


      May 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  19. Dyslexic doG

    Head of the 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.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Mark, as in an object of attack, ridicule, or abuse; specifically : a victim or prospective victim of a swindle

      Yeah but he's Soooooo righteous he must deserve it right?

      May 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  20. GW Hamer

    It was an audit. They have a whole section for the purpose of audits, what? The only difference is the President may have actually read a complaint from a citizen. I don't think he'd read mine cause I'm a no-body, just like the rest of you. Oh, if anybody does get a letter through, please let me add a few things, it's been a tuff couple years.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:02 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.