Liberty Counsel has learned that Americans United for Separation of Church and State has “tried to cover its tracks” after a complaint was filed against it with the IRS on June 1 on behalf of Liberty University. Liberty’s complaint was in response to a bogus complaint AU filed against the school in which it erroneously claimed that the university banned Democrats and the College Democratic Club.
A Liberty Counsel news release states: “Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) has quickly tried to cover its tracks after Liberty Counsel filed a complaint against the organization on behalf of Liberty University with the IRS. Liberty Counsel alleged that for several years AU has almost exclusively filed complaints with the IRS against churches whose pastors lean towards Republican rather than Democratic candidates. To cover its tracks, AU quickly filed a complaint with the IRS against the Fifth Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, for allegedly endorsing then-Democratic candidate Brian Moran during one of its services.”
Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. has said Liberty Counsel’s action against Americans United was a long time coming.
“Americans United has a history of filing complaints like this against Liberty University and conservative churches and organizations,” he said. “We are not aware of any adverse action resulting from these complaints. We’ve always been careful to abide by all the laws and regulations of the Internal Revenue code.”
Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, said Liberty Counsel had collected a lot of information on Americans United and was prepared to show its political bias, “because they file these letters to silence churches and other conservative organizations by intimidating them.”
In a letter from Americans United to the IRS, Barry Lynn, executive director, asked for a review of Liberty’s tax-exempt status.
“By banning a Democratic club while permitting a Republican club to exist and offering funding to the latter but not the former, university officials appear to be operating in violation of federal tax law,” the letter stated.
Staver said Lynn’s letter was based upon “heresay, misinformation from the media that Liberty banned the Democrats from the campus, that Liberty is banning the Democrat Club, that Liberty has said you can’t be a Democrat and a Christian — all of which is false.”
Liberty Counsel’s news release states that AU “is not concerned about truth” and that its statements “are designed to intimidate, silence, and harm those with whom it disagrees. AU’s activity is both reckless and partisan. It is reckless because AU never investigates the accuracy of its alleged complaints. AU’s pattern of reckless disregard for the truth, coupled with its malicious intent to injure those with whom it disagrees, is patently obvious. While the IRS considers such complaints confidential and will not release information to the public pending such investigations, AU is only interested in getting its name in the media.”
In late June, Liberty made all political clubs “unofficial,” meaning they will not receive funding from Liberty. However, they will be allowed to use Liberty’s name, “as long as they make it clear they are not being endorsed by the university,” the new policy reads. They will also be able to use the school’s master calendar to schedule meeting rooms on campus.
Falwell said Liberty University made this move when it was alleged that the College Republicans “had supported a pro-abortion candidate in Jim Gilmore, not because of any pressure from anyone.”