U.S. v. Christian Echoes National Ministry: Court Decision on Tax Exempt Status

U.S. v. Christian Echoes National Ministry: Court Decision on Tax Exempt Status

United States v. Christian Echoes National Ministry

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Decided: United States v. Christian Echoes National Ministry - How far can the IRS go in determining whether a religious organization should retain its tax exempt status? The IRS took away the tax exempt status of Christian Echoes National Ministry in 1964, arguing that the group did not operate "exclusively for religious purposes," that it had "substantial activity aimed at influencing legislation," and that it "intervened in political campaigns on behalf of candidates for public office."

Christian Echoes National Ministry appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which let the ruling of the Tenth Circuit Court stand. According to that ruling:

"A religious organization that engages in substantial activity aimed at influencing legislation is disqualified from tax exemption, whatever the motivation. ...

The free exercise clause of the First Amendment is restrained only to the extent of denying tax exempt status and then only in keeping with an overwhelming and compelling Governmental interest: That of guaranteeing that the wall separating church and state remain high and firm. ...

The taxpayer may engage in all such activities without restraint, subject, however, to withholding of the exemption or, in the alternative, the taxpayer may refrain from such activities and obtain the privilege of exemption."

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