Conservative Christian nonprofit under scrutiny after ‘illegal campaign intervention’ to help Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), photo by Gage Skidmore

A Christian non-profit organization endorsed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in his bid to be GOP minority leader, reports Friendly Atheist. It's a potential breach of its 503 status and now, atheist groups are calling on the IRS to investigate the group's partisan activity.

After Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) declined to seek re-election and the Democrats took the House in the midterms, Republicans lost the speakership to Nancy Pelosi. Had Republicans retained control, Jordan was a top contender for Speaker.

That's where the Christian group came in.

"Here’s where it gets bizarre: The American Family Association, a conservative Christian non-profit group, sent their members an email last July saying Jordan should be the next Speaker because the other candidates were “establishment Republicans” and therefore not good enough," writes the Friendly Atheist.

"They wanted their members to pressure their representatives to vote for Jordan."

The blog cited the language they used to lobby for Jordan.

"… The next Speaker of the House must be a great leader, not just a good one," the group wrote. "Congress needs a Speaker who has a proven track record with a convictional vision of greatness to restore and defend the constitutional republic of the United States of America. Jim Jordan displays such qualities."

"Congressional conservatives should not make behind-the-scenes deals with current leadership on who the next Speaker will be. Instead, House Republicans need to select Jim Jordan, a proven conservative Speaker."

Although they failed to install Jordan as leader of the GOP -- that honor went to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) it raised serious questions about the group's influence over the U.S. political process.

"But the whole charade raised a bigger question: Why was a non-profit group — which, by definition, can’t endorse candidates in an election if it wants to keep its tax-exempt status — endorsing a candidate in an election?" the Friendly Atheist observed.

"This wasn’t advocating on an issue, which non-profits often do without a problem. This was telling members You need to support a particular candidate for a particular position. It’s literally the one thing you can’t do if you want to hold on to all those perks of being a non-profit group."

Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling on the IRS to investigate.

… The email came from AFA’s 501(c)(3) arm, not its 501(c)(4) arm.

… In this instance, AFA inappropriately used its 501(c)(3) status to intervene in a political campaign. AFA violated IRS regulations by criticizing candidates by name and by endorsing a candidate.

FFRF respectfully requests that the IRS commence an immediate investigation to determine whether AFA violated IRS regulations prohibiting a 501(c)(3) from intervening in a political campaign. The IRS should take appropriate action to remedy any violations that occurred or which continue to occur.

Read the report here.