Atheist group sues over religious electioneering

Published On: Nov 15 2012 11:42:20 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 15 2012 11:40:11 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -

A Madison, Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics argues in a federal lawsuit that the Internal Revenue Service is violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing tax-exempt churches and religious organizations to get involved in political campaigns.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Madison. It cites full-page ads run this fall in the New York Times and other newspapers by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and a letter that Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky required to be read in churches the weekend before the presidential election.

The lawsuit argues that not enforcing the law prohibiting tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering results in preferential treatment not provided to other tax-exempt organizations, including the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

An IRS spokesman didn't immediately return messages.