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Complaint filed against Americans United for Separation of Church and State

May 28, 2009 : University Advancement staff

Liberty Counsel plans to file a complaint on Monday, June 1 against Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of Liberty University in response to claims that the University did not abide by IRS regulations for a nonprofit organization when it dropped endorsement of the school’s College Democrats club.

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, said Liberty’s recent action “had nothing to do with the political nature of the club” and was “solely based upon the moral issues of abortion and marriage.”

“Liberty will not lend its name or funds to support any group — Republican, Democrat, Independent or non-political — that supports abortion or same-sex marriage,” he said. “Liberty’s action has nothing to do with favoring Republicans or Democrats.”

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 Liberty, as a private institution, can decide to lend its name or fund student groups of their own choosing.

“Liberty has complete freedom to officially recognize or not recognize any club, especially when the decision is based on its core mission,” he said. “Liberty is not endorsing or opposing political candidates. Liberty cannot and will not lend its name or funds to support causes that undermine its mission and core values, such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Had Barry Lynn paid more attention to the facts rather than being absorbed in his fundraising scheme, he would have realized that the Democratic club can still meet on campus. It simply cannot use Liberty’s name or funds to promote abortion or same-sex marriage.”

Staver said Lynn’s letter is 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 Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said the action against Americans United has been a long time coming.

“Americans United has a history of filing complaints like this against Liberty University and conservative churches and organizations. 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,” he said.

Staver said Liberty Counsel has collected a lot of information on Americans United and is prepared to show its political bias, “because they file these letters to silence churches and other conservative organizations by intimidating them.”

“They’re not intimidating us,” Staver said. “In fact, we’re fighting back, and we will file a complaint against them showing their long history of their biased complaints with the IRS. We will point out the biased and partisan history. Americans United has never been successful in filing their baseless attacks. When they filed this most recent complaint, it was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Now we will fight back.”


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