Ministry Today – Serving and empowering church leaders

billy-graham-romneyBilly Graham is known for preaching fiery sermons that see even the hardest hearts converted. Now, the 94-year-old evangelist is under fire for newspaper ads that compelled voters to cast their ballots based on biblical principles.

A group of atheists is taking the Internal Revenue Service to court over its failure to enforce electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit Wednesday, claiming the IRS violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and FFRF's equal protection rights.

The Rev. Billy Graham and his son Rev. Franklin Graham met with presidential candidate Mitt Romney last month. Romney asked the 94-year-old evangelist to pray for him for the duration of his campaign. Billy Graham reportedly told Romney, “I’ll do all I can to help you.”

A week after the meeting, BGEA took out ads featuring a photo of Graham. One reads:

“On November 6, the day before my 94th birthday, our nation will hold one of the most critical elections in my lifetime. We are at a crossroads and there are profound moral issues at stake. I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms. The Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues. Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn our hearts back toward God.”

The secular organization argued that BGEA's “vote biblical values” full-page ads that ran in the three Sundays leading up to the presidential election were in violation of the IRS' rules on religious groups and political campaigning.

“The context of the ads and publications by BGEA evidence its intent to endorse candidate Mitt Romney,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote in an Oct. 31 letter to the IRS.

“Tax-exempt nonprofit groups are to be conducted with educational and charitable purposes, not for the purpose of political campaign advocacy. When nonprofit groups become involved in political elections, they should be investigated and lose their tax-exempt status,” she said.

However, a statement from BGEA says no general ministry funds were used for the ads.

“A number of friends who support the ministry of the BGEA have contributed funds designated for the purchase of newspaper advertising space to publish an ad featuring Billy Graham’s image and a call to support candidates who will support biblical values,” the statement reads.

The group is now asking the federal court to enjoin IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman from continuing “a policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations.”

In October, more than 1,500 pastors and other religious leaders participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which the FFRF claims violated electioneering restrictions.

The atheists have sent letters of complaint to the IRS involving 27 other cases.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Explorers require significant input.

    How to Receive Clarity When Torn Between Choices

    Decision making is risky without guidance from the Holy Spirit.

  • Lyndon Johnson

    63-Year-Old Law Still 'Threatens' Churches, Pastors

    Read why this law is so dangerous to the kingdom culture.

  • A new path is opening now.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Opening Doors for Kingdom-Minded Businesses

    Find out how to activate this prophetic word of increase in your company.

  • Do you have the proper training to be a soldier in God's army?

    The Training You Need as a Soldier in God's Army

    We are in already in a war. Let us enter the fight as fully trained soldiers with the full armor ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Local congregations are called to become Christ-like in their methodology, mission and essence.

    10 Traits of the Jesus-Driven Church

    If we attempt to walk in these, we will leave a powerful imprint on the world around us.

  • Greeter ministry

    5 Common Greeter Mistakes to Correct in the New Year

    Like those involved in any other ministry, greeters can get in a rut.

  • Saddleback Church

    One Clear-Cut Sign Your Church Is Mature and Healthy

    A church's health is measured by its obedience to this important mandate, not by its seating ...

  • Evangelist John Burton

    What My Third Church Plant Might Look Like

    Here are some things Evangelist John Burton might change if he decided to start another church.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders
button
button