Recently, we just decided to give up on the pretense of secularity. In a process akin to Carcinization, a new wave of Christianization is before us. The Supreme Court may as well be the Supreme Chapel, the 50-yard line is basically a church pew, and think tanks are rebranding themselves as the bringers of the thoughts of The Lord. As institutions rush to assemble the full armor of God now that the Establishment Clause lay dead in its grave, they are promised protection from all matter of threats — death even. But taxes come for everyone.
Forty members of Congress on Monday asked the IRS and the Treasury to investigate what the lawmakers termed an “alarming pattern” of right-wing advocacy groups registering with the tax agency as churches, a move that allows the organizations to shield themselves from some financial reporting requirements and makes it easier to avoid audits.
I gotta say, I find it rich that the party vehemently against respecting people’s chosen pronouns has no problem with the Family Research Council deciding to switch out Mr. Governor for Our Father. Sure would be cool if they cared about personhood as much as they did corporate personhood. For all the hubbub about gays ruining the sanctity of marriage, they don’t have a problem with a hate group rebranding itself as sacred ground for a tax cut?
In its application for church status, the organization said it met 11 of the 14 characteristics that the IRS uses to determine whether an organization is a church, including an established place of worship — a chapel in the organization’s Washington office building, at which it said it holds services attended by more than 65 people. (Someone who answered the phone at the office said the group doesn’t offer church services.) The organization said its association comprises nearly 40,000 “partner churches” that must affirm a statement of faith to join; it did not offer the names of those partners on its form to the IRS or provide them to ProPublica.
Back in my day, lying to the government on forms was criminal. Like, mom gets sent to jail because she wanted her kid to go to a better school criminal. I just know some Think Tank Turned Mega Church™ is going to recruit Amy Wax or some other bigot with a Ph.D. to spew hate speech with the double protection of “academic freedom” and “religious liberty” a la Alito. I’d say we should focus on teaching the future generation of lawyers to root out attempts to use religious dogma as a way to avoid accountability, but law schools have already beat me to the punch.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.