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. Franklin Graham LOVES Je$u$

    Franky makes over a million camel-through-the-eye-of-the-needle dollars, because as we know, Jesus said "I tell you truly, sell your goods and give the money to pastors in shiny suits, for verily they need a third Lamborghini." (Lucre 3:14)

    May 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  2. Michael

    Graham can't just wash his hands of this and pretend that he's ignorant of the fact that those ads just stopped short of telling people who to vote for... and this coming from a tax exempt religious organization. Graham is a crook with no integrity. He cares more about $$$ and political affiliation than he does about standing by his principles, as proved by his endorsement of Romney and Mormonism after having openly denounced Mormonism as a cult for so many years.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • lol??

      "...................pretend that he's ignorant .........." That's SOP fer business in americult.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yeah, people can't just pretend they are ignorant and don't know what the organizations they head are doing.... can they?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Ratzinger

      Yes, I can, I am shocked, absolutely shocked, that this has been going on, on my watch. Those docu.ments I signed just passed across my desk, I was busy, other stuff to cover up don't you know.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  3. Tranlation

    Franklin, are you trying to say that they were not going to accept your alcohol use as a tax deduction? Were you trying to start a tax free liquor store to feed your habit? You are a disgusting individual who now uses your dad's inability to speak as an excuse to put words in his mouth.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  4. capnmike

    The poor whining parasites! These churches make billions, pay lite or no taxes, and always want more. They inculcate and brainwash the gullible, the young, and the dependent with their lies and hocus-pocus, and then suck their blood for the rest of their lives...NO SYMPATHY THERE! The Churches should have to pay taxes just like everybody else!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • lol??

      "............suck their blood............" EEEeewwwwweeeeeewwww

      "Jhn 6:52-53 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." That should send em on their way!!

      May 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  5. PSAztec

    Just to set the record straight, just because an organization is tax exempt does not mean that employees don't pay taxes on their wages. So, when I was in ministry, I paid taxes on my income that I earned working as a pastor. The church was tax exempt so it did not pay taxes but all the employees do. This is the same for all tax exempt organizations, like the red cross. All employees who work for the Red Cross have to pay taxes on their income earned while the organization does not pay taxes on the monies donated to it.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Peter

      Priests should work for free, if they want to make some money they should get a real job.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Alias

      To be fair, it is very hard to find a job when your resume says you supported a child molesting organization.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • All Relgion Is Fraud.

      So it's no skin off the employee's nose if the organization pays taxes then. Why act as if it does?
      The organization gets those donations for free. They aren't doing any honest work at all, are they?
      Why not tax them then? Where is the damage to them by paying taxes?
      There isn't any damage done. They get free money. Easy come, easy go.
      Greed is the game here. Fraud of religion makes the play. Franklin Graham commits the fraud, intentional or not, upon his victims and pays nothing and does nothing honest here. He took Sarah Palin with him to Haiti, for cryin out loud, and they didn't do squat to help those people. It was all just dumb show and jazz hands.
      Religion is fraud. It doesn't need to be taxed, it needs to be prosecuted and removed from society.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  6. Chris

    GOOD! All of the nutter houses should be taxed. I'm sick of seeing giant stadium churches. Everytime I see one I think about all the missed tax revenue.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • lol??

      tried Tums??

      May 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  7. doughnuts

    You got auditted because you are a televangelist. You dirtbags are notorious con-men and tax cheats.
    You, and all your ilk should be auditted every year.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      quarterly audits, imo.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Josh

      IRS, is that you?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Science

      Hey faith................someone has to pay the bills please check it out OK...............thanks


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


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


      May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |

      May 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • lol??

      ilk and doughnuts, ilk and doughnuts
      go together like a horseless carriage
      Tums, fer yer eatin' pleasure.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Science

      Or ..........please visit tis one lol?? ..............ads.............pay the bills



      May 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  8. Max

    It would be funny if the IRS asked him to submit proof of his god's existence in order to continue being tax exempt.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • capnmike

      Can't prove it...is not there! What a SCAM these parasites pull on everyone!

      May 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Holden Caulfield

      Unfortunately, you cannot disprove God's existence... so where does that leave you? Think before opening your mouth.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Max

      @Holden – What is it with you religious people, can't you take a joke? Geez, take that bible out of your ass for a bit and have a chuckle.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  9. Scott

    I don't have a real problem with the IRS bringing some accountability to organized religion.I see far too many men of the cloth living far beyond their means while their church claims a tax free status.This money could be used to help the poor.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  10. Silence Dogood

    If you're doing nothing wrong, why would you fear someone snooping? Wasn't that the point of the Patriot Act? Right-wingers didn't whip up a sniff when "others" were being wire-tapped, held up at airports, or subjected to searches.

    I say scrutinize every damn last one of these 501c.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  11. TheTraveler

    I think the IRS targeted me as well. I mean, well, er, I had to pay taxes and ...

    May 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  12. Entil'Zha

    "cults are bad for you. cults teach you to turn off your brain and obey. "

    Or..you know...they don't.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • All Relgion Is Fraud.

      They do. But your bubble will never burst will it? No, that's proof you are wrong again.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  13. pgraham52

    Too bad so many of you think auditing the right wing is justifiable- the left will be next. You will surely whine then.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Answer

      Look at how retarded you are..

      Audits are going on everyday to every group, and everyone. What kind of mental midget are you anyway?

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

      considering how much money evangelists scam from people, hard to feel sorry for them. same with republican "charity" organization out for "the common good in society" - they should pay taxes, too. they aren't charities, as i'm sure you know. and democratic "charity" organizations should pay taxes, too. as should ALL churches.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Josh

      Not too hard to imagine, they're whining already.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  14. sly

    This man governs over the corrupt church.

    Praise the good Lord that the IRS investigates these corrupt fake messiahs.

    I am proud of the IRS for trying to reduce our federal deficit and shrik Big Government by enforcing the laws.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  15. Lars

    It's time for ALL churches to pay taxes on the loot they take from the poor to give to the rich! They are nothing more than political organizations with BILLIIONS, if not, TRILLIONS in assets, etc. What happened to Jesus saying, "Sell all you have and feed the poor?" Oh no, we need a bigger building and more pews and collection plates!

    May 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  16. laguna_greg

    Considering the scandal and corruption that seems to follow the big money in religions, all religions, they just aren't scrutinized enough. Plain and simple.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  17. Porky Rottenham

    Billy Graham stole from the taxpayers all his life. Who cares what his son likes.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Josh

      I do.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • All Relgion Is Fraud.

      Well, Josh, you sound like a brown-nosing, groveling little slave worried about his master's feelings. Fuck you.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  18. lol??

    Jerry Lee (killer) sayz to get in line with those nasty liens. His cousin Jimmy S just cried.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  19. Heretic

    Tax the cult houses. All of them.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      couldn't agree more.

      christianity is a cult. ALL religions are cults. there is only one difference between a cult and a religion: one is accepted by society and one is not. when a cult becomes accepted, it becomes a religion. when there are no more cult members around to worship, a religion becomes a mythology. christianity was a cult until accepted by the roman empire.

      cults are bad for you. cults teach you to turn off your brain and obey. wake up, get up off your knees and think for yourself. you won't regret it.

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

      May 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • sharon


      May 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Porky Rottenham

      Christianity may well be a cult, but f-ing up your native language on purpose, to be cool, is the sigh of an imbecile. Boot Head.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      Porky - explain. what are you referring to?

      May 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • sam

      Ironic. The 'sigh' of an imbecile.

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

      That's probably "Uncouth Swine", since he calls himself Porky Rottenham today. His cornflakes smell like pee.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    Great leak by the Dems. Keep these asshole churches and right wingers looking over their shoulders. Now we hit the mattresses and wait for the blow over. But don't touch Michael, that I do not forgive.

    May 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • lol??

      mattresses and blow over??

      May 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      lol??, I am not in the least surprised that you don't understand that reference.

      May 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Valentina

      It was a great leak by the donkey party. They just ensured victory for the GOP in the 2014 mid-terms where it will take back the Senate and retain conrol of the House. Thakns donkeys!!

      May 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • lol??

      Well APP?? Another inside joke like, "straight"??

      May 15, 2013 at 2:21 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.