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Operation Rescue's Tax-Exempt Status Challenged

By July 28, 2004

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Operation Rescue has long played a dominant role in debates about abortion in America. They are a tax-exempt non-profit organization, but Catholics for a Free Choice is challenging this. They allege that Operation Rescue has endorsed George W. Bush for president and attacked John Kerry. If true, their tax exemption is indeed in jeopardy.

BeliefNet reports:

The independent lay group complained to the Internal Revenue Service that an Operation Rescue ad in a conservative Catholic newspaper urged voters to "defeat (John Kerry) in November and enable President Bush to appoint a pro-life Supreme Court justice to finally overturn Roe v. Wade."
The ad, titled "John Kerry is a `Catholic' Baby-Killing Hypocrite," urged tax-deductible donations to help "pull out all the stops to keep (Kerry) out of the White House." The ad referred to Democrats as "Deathocrats." "Charitable status is a privilege, not a right," Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said in a statement. "Organizations are free to educate their members and the public, but must do so within the legal limits of their charitable status."
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, ... said he could not recall the specifics of the ad, but said in an interview, "We need to defeat Kerry."

In a press release, Operation Rescue admits:

ORW has a fleet of Truth Trucks in Boston emblazoned with graphic images of aborted babies along with the words "Kerry's Choice" and "Kerry/Edwards: A Bloody Team for a Bloody America." ... "Part of our mission as a non-profit group is to conduct educational campaigns. People who support Kerry and other 'pro-choice' candidates, whether Democrats or Republicans, should know what that 'choice' really means. We believe we are in full compliance with the law [said ORW President Troy Newman].

So, lets look at what we have: they make public statements that we need to defeat Kerry, they drive around in trucks carrying the message that Kerry should not be elected, and they have an ad that urges tax-deductible donations for the purpose of defeating Kerry while electing Bush.

Sounds like partisan political activity to me. Campaigning on behalf of one candidate or against another is a violation of the regulations on tax-exempt status Operation Rescue seems to be doing both. Im not sure how their status cant be revoked.

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