Madison group sues IRS over political activity by churches

CREATED Nov 15, 2012

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Madison-based Freedom from Religion Foundation argues in a federal lawsuit that the Internal Revenue Service is violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing tax-exempt churches and religious organizations to get involved in political campaigns.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Madison cites full-page ads run this fall in the New York Times and other newspapers by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and a letter that Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky required to be read in churches the weekend before the presidential election.

The lawsuit argues that not enforcing the law prohibiting tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering results in preferential treatment not provided to other tax-exempt organizations like the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

A spokesman for the IRS did not immediately return messages.