Dustin Siggins

As IRS targeting scandal continues, critics on left and right slam new regs limiting free speech

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Almost nine months after the IRS' targeting of Tea Party, patriot, and pro-life groups came to light, a new scandal has emerged: the same people who targeted political opponents from 2010 to 2012 created the new regulations the IRS proposed in 2013.

According to the House Ways & Means Committee, the IRS – which claimed work on its new regulatory platform was begun after May 2013 – began working on the non-profit standards in 2012, under disgraced former IRS staffer Lois Lerner. Lerner headed the department that targeted conservative organizations. She retired in September 2013.

Before this week, it was thought that the administration had been looking into changing some of the rules surrounding 501(c)(4) organizations after the scandal broke. The new rules, which have been proposed and are open for public comment, would “explicitly define which kind of activities are political and fall outside of the social welfare category, forcing such groups to be more careful about how they spend their funds,” according to The Washington Post.

The Post says the regulations would not allow ads mentioning candidates after a certain date before Election Day, among other limitations on speech. Several prominent conservative organizations have described the regulations as codifying the suppression the IRS engaged in starting in 2010.

While the regulations would apply to all viewpoints equally on paper, conservatives are concerned that the harassment they faced under the IRS' two-year campaign would be made official federal policy – and that the IRS cannot be trusted to apply such laws equally.

According to Thomas Brejcha, founder, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, the newest chapter in the IRS scandal is no surprise. “[This is] another outrageous revelation in what has been a cascade of revelations from Washington showing that, contrary to what they claim, they have been attacking pro-life as well as Tea Party groups,” he said.

Brejcha, whose organization is representing six pro-life clients targeted by the IRS, says, “It's just been clear bureaucratic antagonism toward our pro-life clients. If that isn't corrupt misuse of the tax laws, I don't know what would be such.”

This is only the latest in the scandals that have rocked the IRS since last summer. Earlier this year, the FBI indicated it will not file charges related to the targeting, even though Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told LifeSiteNews that “neither the FBI nor the President can know how much corruption exists in the IRS” because “the FBI has never asked what Tea Party Patriots' problems were or how we were affected by the IRS' targeting.” It has also been revealed that the overseer of the IRS investigation within the Obama administration is a Democratic Party and Obama donor.

Last year, USA TODAY found 80 percent of 162 investigated organizations were conservative.

Tea Party Patriots National Grassroots Coordinator Keli Carender told LifeSiteNews her organization was “not surprised” at the newest revelations, “because there is zero trust in anything they say. We've always known these rule proposals are not about 'clarification.' We know they are about codifying the targeting into law. Instead of being unethical and illegal, harassment and targeting will just be unethical under these regulations.”

While the ACLU declined to comment on the new revelations of dishonesty from the IRS, a spokesperson did tell LifeSiteNews that “although the regulations aren't a direct restriction on speech, practically, we're concerned that non-profits--especially smaller, less well-resourced non-profits--will curtail or avoid totally non-partisan issue advocacy. That would present a serious chill on free speech.”

Gabriel Rottman, the ACLU's legislative counsel/policy advisor in its Washington Legislative Office, also said “there have been long been concerns with the current standard and groups have been pushing the IRS to change the rules for a while. The IRS actually did the right thing in proposing new rules, they just went the wrong way and the proposal could make things worse.”

Carender said Congress should take note that Tea Party Patriots and the ACLU are “on the same side of an issue,” and “should do its job and hold the bureaucrats accountable.”

“The ACLU's stated mission is to defend freedom of speech,” said Carender, “and the Tea Party movement is made up of millions of Americans who are exercising their freedom of speech. All of us together oppose these new proposed regulations. Obviously, this crosses the ideological divide, and when you have the Tea Party Patriots and the ACLU on the same side of an issue, I think we all know that there's something wrong.”

According to Rottman, the ACLU's “primary concern is that these rules will harm the ability of groups on both the right and left, who aren't engaged in any campaign intervention, from debating the issues freely.”

The IRS scandal had already been on the top of the news cycle this week, with President Obama's statement to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly before Sunday's Super Bowl that there was not “even a smidgen of corruption” involved in the IRS' targeting. That claim had critics in an uproar.

The IRS' new commissioner, John Koskinen, is also under fire for reinstating previously cancelled bonuses for IRS employees. Koskinen apologized for the targeting yesterday, promising “it won't happen going forward.”

The Obama administration, which promised to be the “most transparent administration in history,” has faced criticism for years on its lack of openness with the public. Among others, The New York Times and CNN host and former ABC White House Correspondent Jake Tapper have hammered the administration for targeting reporters, especially Fox's James Rosen. At Slate.com Paul Thacker slammed the administration last March for its violations of public trust.

Brejcha said that the IRS' corruption has “really got to be cleaned up at the top, but obviously at the top, there is a malignant indifference to the truth.”

Rep. Dave Camp, R-MI, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said at a recent hearing that the committee “will fight any and all efforts to restrict the rights of groups to organize, speak-out and educate the public, just as unions are allowed to do so.”

“We will get to the bottom of this, and I expect the IRS to produce – quickly – the outstanding documents the Committee has requested,” he continued. "I believe the IRS has a long way to go in restoring its credibility.  But, you can take a first step by complying with this Committee’s request and stopping all action against 501(c)(4) groups until the appropriate investigations are completed.”

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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