The IRS told a pro-life group to stop protesting outside abortion clinics because “you cannot force your religion or force your beliefs on somebody else,” according to audio of a phone conversation conducted in March 2012. The federal tax collector also sent the group a letter in non-idiomatic English demanding further information.
“You cannot force your religion or force your beliefs on somebody else” IRS agent Sherry Wan told Ania Joseph, an employee of the Texas-based group Pro-Life Revolution, in a March 2012 phone call. Pro-Life Revolution applied to the IRS for tax-exempt status in January 2011.
“Nobody will go after you as long as you don’t violate the law. But when you come to apply for tax exemption, you have to keep your action to, you know, exactly what is educational or religious,” Wan said.
“There are really complicated, really subtle, you know, issues here. And they are also very complicated. This not you, you know, you and I, can’t solve it. This is a court. They decide, you know, whether it is right or not. So, but, as I said, we both, everybody, has the right to believe, have the right to do what is supposed to do. You believe your religion told you this is evil; that not supposed to do,” Wan said.
“My religion says that, you know, we have to reach out to women who are hurting, who are considering killing their own babies,” Joseph said to Wan.
“You reach out to woman, you can’t do that. You can, you know, to educate the woman, to do, you know, you don’t do that. However, you can’t just like say, you know, the [unintelligible] woman, you fear the woman. You have to get the woman the opportunity to listen to you. You cannot force your religion or force your beliefs on somebody else,” Wan replied.
“You convince them. But when you take a lot of action, [unintelligible] other people. For example, when you, you know, go to, you know, the abortion clinic, and you found them [unintelligible], we don’t want, you know, to come against them. You can’t take all kinds of confrontation activities and also put something on a website and ask people to take action against the abortion clinic. That’s not, that’s not really educational…So here, your action is based on more blind, emotional feelings,” Wan said, explaining that the group’s taking of a lot of action constitutes a “violation.”
“But you have to respect other people’s beliefs, other people’s rights and not, you know, use some kind of confrontation, you know, practice, against, or court action against another group,” Wan said later in the call.
The IRS sent Pro-Life Revolution a grammatically disastrous letter dated February 5, 2013 requesting additional information about its protesting activities.
“You called for faithful Christians to praying and counseling in front of the abortion referring clinic, conducting activities in front of another entity, which take opposite positions, appears more like a type of protest, which interferes the normal operation of a business with an effect of humiliating the persons working or receives the service there,” according to the letter, which lists Sherry Wan as the IRS agent to contact.
Pro-Life Revolution’s tax-exempt status was finally approved with a letter dated May 19, 2013.
As The Daily Caller reported, the IRS improperly targeted the tax-exempt status of pro-life groups.
The IRS denied tax-exempt status to the group Coalition for Life of Iowa and forced leaders of the group, in a June 2009 phone call, to promise that they do not organize protests outside of Planned Parenthood.