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December 4, 2014 1:52 pm

Israeli Legal Advocacy Group Urges IRS to Strip Presbyterian Church of Non-Profit Status

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Graffiti sprayed on the security fence separating Israel from the West Bank calls on the PCUSA to divest from Israel. Photo: Twitter

A prominent Israeli legal advocacy group is urging the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Presbyterian Church USA for engaging in what it describes as “a range of prohibited activities under U.S. tax law” that are focused on the vilification of the State of Israel.

Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center,) a group which combats anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities through legal action, is seeking the revocation of PCUSA’s tax-exempt status.

“It’s high time that the IRS investigated the PCUSA,” Nitsana Darshan- Leitner, Director of the Israel Law Center, told The Algemeiner. “They present themselves as a religious body, but they act as a political organization, working against Israel by, for example, meeting with the terrorists of Hezbollah and promoting the anti-Semitic BDS movement.”

Tension between the PCUSA and Jewish groups has been rising since the church voted at its July 2013 General Assembly to divest approximately $21 million of its shares in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola on the grounds that these companies conduct business in the Israeli-controlled West Bank.

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In its 38 page complaint to the IRS, Shurat HaDin has provided what it says is documentary and video evidence showing PCUSA delegates meeting with the Lebanese Islamist  group Hezbollah, which is designated as a terrorist organization in the United States. The complaint also highlights the PCUSA “publishing anti-Semitic materials, enacting a racist policy to divest from American companies doing business with Israel, lobbying the U.S. Congress, and distributing political advocacy materials in violation of its tax-exempt status as a religious organization.”

Such actions, Shura HaDin contends, violate the non-profit tax-exempt status granted to the PCUSA by the IRS in 1964. At the time, the group says, the PCUSA presented itself to the IRS as a religious body, “engaging in peaceful relationships with individuals of all faiths and wholly unengaged in political activities.”

Fifty years later, according to Shura HaDin, that original mission has been completely distorted by the church’s continual involvement in anti-Israel activity. “There is no mention of political advocacy, taking positions on the geopolitical dispute between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis, or PCUSA’s political campaign against Zionism,” Shurat HaDin argued in its submission to the IRS. “There is no mention in PCUSA organizing documents that it perceives fulfilling Christ’s work by meeting with and endorsing statements of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization found to be responsible for the death of United States civilians and marines.  In fact, PCUSA has taken numerous, extensive, and costly efforts to engage in political anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic acts.”

“The PCUSA should not enjoy the benefits of charitable status,” Darshan-Leitner said. “If you want to become an advocacy organziation, you have to change your status with the IRS. You can’t be both a church and a political organization, because the IRS treats these types of organization differently.”

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  • Larry Maher

    I totally and absolutely agree. We in Orange County, NY have a large group of Hasidim under the Satmar tutelage that has been terrorizing and manipulating our elected officials for 35 years? Yet no has challenged them or brought any light to bear on many of their rather unscrupulous activities? Are the large majority of these quiet people acting corrupt? Of course not. But condoning of the leaders actions does seem to be rampant? There is no ‘separation of church and state’ in our constitution, only a ban on the establishment of a State religion.
    Thanks

  • Anne Lewis

    Any organization that plans negative actions against Israel is taking on God as an enemy. I will pray that Israel will succeed in their goal to undo PCUSA.

  • Al Capone was an alter boy compared to the leaders of the Pesbyterian Church, shame on them.

  • mike wallacew

    “the vilification of the State of Israel”

    dont think they need much help with that…. lol

  • Yes, strip the Presbyterian Church USA of tax exempt status. Recommend that the Presbyterian Church USA move to Gaza, West Bank, Iran, Iraq etc., and set up HDQTRS there.

    The Muslims will afford the Presbyterian Church USA the “head” way.

    A goy,
    Gerry Mullen

  • jbwillikers

    As much as I support the cause I believe that using the IRS as a political tool to strike opponents is unethical to do and unethical for the IRS to accommodate. Certainly the IRS has deep ethical problems of its own, but that is not a reason to exploit their dishonesty. A Jewish organization, Z Street, was recently awarded a cash settlement from the IRS for for political discrimination by the IRS.
    http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/court-irs-political-discrimination-suit-by-pro-israel-group-oked/2014/05/27/

  • Alex R-

    Is it surprising Nixon was a Presbyterian?

    • Susan

      Nixon was a Quaker. You stand corrected.

  • Jennifer

    I wonder if the PCUSA had ever given any thought before waving the flag of ‘divestment’?
    I know there is an old Afro- American proverb; “When you dig a ditch for another you’d better dig two cause that one you dig might be just that one for you.”
    G-d’s word expressed it more succinctly when He told Abraham; “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you; and I will curse him who curses you.” Genesis 12: 2,3.
    When a religious organization makes the decision to play politics instead of reading and believing G-D’s word, they leave themselves open for dire consequences.

  • Diana Hairr

    Shurat Hadin is on-point. Unfortunately IRS has an aversion to auditing and prosecuting religious organizations. Only when the actions by the religious organization are so egregious & made public by the media for a very long time will IRS take real action. The last time IRS did more than slap the hand of a religious organization was the audit and prosecution of the Jim Bakker run organization.

    The non-profit laws are well-intended but not enforced unless for political purposes of the White House. Note the pursuit of the Tea Party.

  • wendy

    Brilliant!

  • Scott Adler

    They’ll have to sue the IRS to force it to act.

  • BarakIII

    If you really want to hurt the Presbyterian Church, find out if they are supporting Hezbollah or any other terrorist group materially or financially. If so then take it to the FBI as lending aid to a group recognized as a terrorist organization is illegal, regardless of whether you are a religious organization or not. The IRS has no business investigating any religious organization concerning it’s political views. Period.

  • gedzula

    This sounds like an organization called :Gift of givers in South Africa.Will google it…

  • BarakIII

    I understand the concerns with the Presbyterian Church and their stance on Israel, but this is a really bad idea. First of all, there’s nothing wrong with a religious organization having a political stance. Secondly if they could investigate the Presbyterian Church for this then they could investigate other churches who support Israel. That’s a really really bad idea. Especially in the Obama administration which would try to use this as precedent to do just that, investigate churches who have political stances that differ from his own, including support of Israel. Seriously, really bad idea.

  • Joe

    What do you expect of a church that is saturated with Free Masons?

  • Dave

    Well done Shurat Hadin. That’s how the Feds brought down Al Capone

    • zadimel

      Dave: The PCUSA’s actions are worse than Capone’s killings.They are meant to affect an entire nation’s ability to defend itself from neighbors who vomit hatred.

      • Hugo

        Who vomits hatred? YOU?

    • Dan

      Amen

    • Nice work….

  • Michael Mulcahy

    I purchased and tried to actually read “Zionism Unsettled.” It has been a struggle; after a few pages I have to close it in disgust. This is one of the most blatently anti-Semitic documents I have read in years, outside of the Nazi-Klan websites. It astounds me that this “mainstream” religion is not ashamed of itself.

  • On this subject it is very easy to vilify this church,for it is true, but extremely hard to inact change with the IRS.
    It could take decades to reach a conclusion either pro/anti Isreal.
    Revoking a “so called church’s”, tax exempt status, would be as Don Quiote chasing windmills !
    The best way to challenge ignorance such as this is to cut off the flow of money, this will have a impact.
    Write your Congressman or Senator with your concerns, possibly this pressure would create censure, on a state by state basis.
    Attacking this head on would impower every other fundamentalist so called church to come to the aid of pcusa !
    Stupidity is an incurable cancer ! Remission, but in the end it will surface again.
    Hashem willing, only education,truth,transparency will wipe out this sickness! Shalom

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    Right on!!! All too often religious groups violate their duties as doing God’s work and get enmeshed in politics. If they lose their tax status and don’t like it then they know what they have to do. One can’t dance at two weddings at the same time.

  • Darrin Berger

    Excellent keep up the advocacy. I will make a donation to advance the cause.

  • Hoorah for the Shurat HaDin and its legal counter-attack on PCUSA. The PC group has been notorious in its anti-Israel political posturing and its associations with clearly stated enemies of the USA. This is clearly unforgivable.

    Let us pray for its successful prosecution of this case. Mixing non-profit religious activities with active lobbying in support of anti-USA terrorism groups doesn’t work!

  • kathy Hoff

    I was raised Presbyterian and in the’60s we were taught to love Israel and the Jews. We stuck it out until the Oslo Accords failed and I caught so much flak for my pro-Israel stance that I was mocked a few too many times. Both my husband and I were Elders, my Dad was an Elder and my sister is a Presbyterian minister. It was hard to leave but we could no longer be involved in a church that spouts politics from the pulpit or rely on the general assembly to truly represent us and our beliefs.
    If you need a witness…

  • Shalom-Hillel

    That church has gone far down a dark and crooked path that is leading them to nowhere. They have lost their way and abandoned their original mission. They have made common cause with genocidal Israel-haters bent on destroying the remnant of Israel in the homeland. They will not find favor with the God of Israel. Utsu eytsa v’tufar. Their plans will fail.

  • BH in Iowa

    *Presbyterian mosque USA

  • Billy Bumps

    Oh my PCUSA…I think that they have you pegged…
    What goes around comes around….it has been
    coming on a long time now….ur position on abortion,
    homosexual ministers..practicing homosexual
    ministers….same sex marriage…blah, blah…on it
    goes….well, God will not be mocked….you knew
    it and yet you went ahead with it…..

  • Zvi Gross

    Good start. I wish Shurat Hadin success!

  • Leo Toystory

    Screw the MFers!

  • Julian Clovelley

    “you can’t be both a Church and a political organisation”

    Wasn’t that the rationale behind the Concordats?

  • I always thought of the head of ANY church, regardless of denomination, as Jesus Christ. Can anyone who has the slightest understanding of Christianity imagine that to work with terrorists whose sole intent and purpose is to destroy Israel, the land God promised to His Chosen People?

    I think the Presbyterian church has a lot more to worry about than its tax-exempt status. It has its work cut out to look after its soul and the souls that it purports to serve and save.

  • rulierose

    go Nitsana! I can’t tell you how important it is to support the work of this organization. among other things, Shurat Ha Din was pretty much singlehandedly responsible for stopping a flotilla from Turkey (they threatened to sue the insurance companies insuring the boat).

    fun fact: the particular flotilla boat they stopped was called “Audacity of Hope,” the title of one of Obama’s autobiographies, and it had on board presidential friends and unrepentant terrorists Bill and Bernadine Ayers. do you remember all the questions this raised in the media about Obama’s connection to the Palestinian movement? me neither.

  • NuritGn

    Well done Shurat HaDin, Well done Nitsana Darshan someone has to stand up to these anti-Semites dispecable people Jesus is not their example but discrimination and political terror is

  • Mandrake

    Bravo for Shurat HaDin. I suppose the PCUSA does not object the beheadings of Christians and other minorities or the establishment of the Caliphate in the Middle East, Europe, etc….

  • This ought to work…but in this climate, the pickings are slim

  • Isabella1709

    I like this idea. I was once a member of the PCUSA and would like to see the antisemitism exhibited in that church examined and treated as a political organization. It has not only split that denomination but caused many communities to lose their property, and essentially slapped the faces of congregates that in the past gave bequests under false assumptions…like Christian behavior, which the PCUSA has violated in all too many ways.

  • Steve Loeb

    TYANK YOU Shurat HaDin for fighting the good fight. For far too long these groups, because there’s almost never any pushback, think they have a free pass to defame and delegitimize us – and if we DON’T push back, they do. In reality there are plenty of laws these groups violate or come very close to the line and ought to have to defend their actions or in this case lose their tax free privilege.

    So thank you again Shurat HaDin

  • Monty Pogoda

    Kol Hakavod Nitzana -You’re doing good work.

  • Julian Tepper

    BDS = Jew-Hatred.

  • Eric R.

    It’s a good idea, but it won’t fly with the anti-Semites we have running the Administration now.

    At least Israel should have the guts to ban PCUSA ministers from entering the country — unless they are willing to sign a document denouncing their own church for their policies – with the document being then sent by Israel to the church, so the signing pastor knows that the Church will find out about it.

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