Illegal to encourage values?

Friday, November 16, 2012
Charlie Butts (

A complaint has been filed against the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association with the Internal Revenue Service, as the Freedom From Religion Foundation seeks to have the Association's tax-exempt status revoked.

FFRF is complaining because of the full-page ads of Billy Graham featured in major newspapers leading up to the November 6 election. But Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel tells OneNewsNow the respected international evangelist was completely within his rights.

Staver, Mat (Liberty Counsel)"Billy Graham did not endorse or oppose a candidate," Staver recalls. "Billy Graham and the Association specifically encouraged people to vote biblical values, to vote those biblical values regarding Israel, life, marriage, and religious liberty. That's perfectly permissible."

But the attorney recognizes that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is free to have its own view and can write a letter of complaint to the IRS, just as anyone else can.

"But the reality is that's permissible under the IRS regulations," he continues. "Clearly, organizations that are non-profit can encourage people to vote consistent with the values that the organization represents -- and that's, in fact, what [the] Billy Graham Association and Billy Graham did."

Staver says the anti-religion legal group wants to strip pastors and non-profit organizations of their right to encourage people to vote their values, "and if you lose that right," he says, "you have no rights at all."

The Liberty Counsel founder does not believe the FFRF complaint will go anywhere.

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