Categorized | Jewish History, Middle East, USA

Tax status challenge to Presbyterian Church USA

Presbyterian Church USANEW YORK (Press Release)– Shurat HaDin, a civil rights organization based in Israel, has filed a whistleblower action against the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  In its 38 page complaint, the group provides substantial evidence that PCUSA violated its non-profit tax-exempt status for engaging in a range of prohibited activities under U.S. tax law and seeks revocation of PCUSA’s tax-exempt status.

Shurat HaDin provided the IRS with documentary and video evidence showing PCUSA delegates meeting with the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hezbollah, publishing anti-Semitic materials, enacting a racist policy to divest from American companies doing business with Israel, lobbying the U.S. Congress and distributing political advocacy materials in violation of its tax-exempt status as a religious organization.

In July 2013, the PCUSA’s General Assembly passed a resolution to divest from American companies engaged in business with the Jewish State, and thereafter divested approximately $21 Million of its shares in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions.  Jewish and Christian organizations in the United States condemned the PCUSA for its support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s call to economically harm Israel, labeling the policies biased and one-sided.  Every major Jewish organization in the United States has denounced the PCUSA’s divestment as anti-Semitic.

According to Shurat HaDin’s complaint, the PCUSA was granted non-profit tax-exempt status by the IRS in 1964, thereby prohibiting the group from engaging in political lobbying or violating public policy, including not engaging in anti-Semitic and racist acts or endorsing US-designated terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

Shurat HaDin notes that the PCUSA’s status with the IRS was based upon its 1964 representation to the IRS that it functions as a religious body, engaging in peaceful relationships with individuals of all faiths and wholly unengaged in political activities.  However, as the submission points out, the PCUSA does not follow its IRS-approved mission statement: “There is no mention of political advocacy, taking positions on the geo-political dispute between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis, or PCUSA’s political campaign against Zionism.  There is no mention in PCUSA organizing documents that it perceives fulfilling Christ’s work by meeting with and endorsing statements of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization found to be responsible for the death of United States civilians and marines.  In fact, PCUSA has taken numerous, extensive, and costly efforts to engage in political anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic acts.”

Shurat HaDin’s submission notes PCUSA bears the burden to show that its conduct and policies do not disqualify it from its no-profit tax status.

According to Shurat HaDin spokesman attorney Robert Tolchin: “Its high time the IRS took a long look at the Presbyterian Church and investigated its meeting with the designated terrorist organization Hezbollah, its lobbying activities and its anti-Israel divestment policies. The PCUSA is obsessed with attacking the Jewish State and has moved far from the activities  which it presented to the IRS to secure its tax-free status in the United States.”

Preceding provided by Shurat HaDin


Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 San Diego Jewish World

4 Responses to “Tax status challenge to Presbyterian Church USA”

  1. GB says:

    This is a joke, right? Am I reading The Onion?
    The PCUSA is in the process of divesting from Caterpillar et al for the same reason that it divested from military contractors and gun manufacturers. We refuse to profit from the suffering of others, period. If you think you can convince the IRS that following our conscience qualifies as being political, then every church and synagogue in the country will be guilty. You are simply out of touch with reality and I am grateful that I have many Jewish friends that support justice for Palestinians and all other strangers in the land.

    • Cyndi Barski says:

      The actions that PCUSA have taken are because of their religous and moral beliefs in human rights. Rights and international law that has been violated since 1948! Refusing to support monetarily,actions that take way people’s land and homes is due to our beliefs not political reasons. We are not anti Jewish or pro Hamas, or any terrorist group. We are pro human rights. We follow the teaching of Jesus- there is no Peace without Justice! Trying to paint Presbyterians as rascist cause of these actions is ridiculous also! I went on a PeaceMaking trip w/ PCUSA group to Israel/ Palestine this past Spring.We met with Christian and Jewish speakers( including members of Breaking the Silence!)visited a couple of the refugee camps, toured Holy sites, etc. If more Americans, or anyone for that matter,visited and saw the injustices that we did they would have a better understanding of why we divested. We went thru security check points, saw soldiers on street corners w/ machine guns, saw what living in the camps was like. Sorry, seems to me this whole thing is just trying to deflect attention from what the real situation is like!

  2. Larry Huntley says:

    As a lifetime Presbyterian, I support this action against the recent shameful actions of our GA

  3. S.S.H. says:

    I am guessing that Larry Huntley has not visited Israel and Palestine recently. He has missed learning of the discriminatory treatment of Arab Palestinian Israel citizens in Israel and the practices of “administrative detentions” for undefined crimes, regular kidnapping of Palestinian Christian and Muslim children, and illegal land settlements for Jews-only in the Palestinian Territories occupied by Israel.

    I too am a life-long Presbyterian whose family befriended Christian and Muslim Palestinian refugees who fled Palestine over the years, beginning at the time of the UN’s poorly conducted partitioning of Palestine in 1947-48. As a child I didn’t understand Presbyterian missionaries’ stories but now know that the Welcomed Homeland for Jews in Israel meant a Catastrophe for Palestinians both Christian and Muslim then and now. The 1998 Israel governments’ opening of Israel Defense Force papers, formerly closed to even her own historians, revealed the ethnic cleansing that took place in 1948 and statements indicating the intentions for land grabbing in the future. But, they also opened the hope for ending current oppressive Israeli polices toward her occupied territories. which would in turn eliminate the non-violent and violent response from Palestinians. That could have meant the possibility of a true democracy in the State of Israel and by extension a more peace-filled Middle East in the beginning of the 21st Century.

    I had the privilege of visiting Israel and Palestine in May, 2014 and of hearing voices for peace from Jewish rabbis and secular Jews, Greek Orthodox and Latin Rite Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, secular and religious business people, authors and actors, university professors, students, and more.

    One needs only to walk through one of the three, 66 year old UN Palestinian Refugee Camps in Bethlehem or to stand dwarfed beside Israel’s 25 ft. security wall that is not on the Green Line but has robbed many Palestinians of their own olive orchards, houses and even lives in its building plus their reasonable access to their jobs, schools, fields, hospitals and places of worship due to its numerous checkpoints that must be passed through with the showing of racially discriminatory ID cards, to be saddened. When I saw the wall from the Palestinian side with its pleas for freedom, my stomach turned just as it had when I watched the TV screen and saw American police turn attack dogs and fire hoses on our second class black citizens in my own country, proving that my country wasn’t yet a true democracy either.

    Finally, the PCUSA did not divest from Israel in its General Assembly action. It divested from three American companies, Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, whose products and technology were being sold to Israel to be used abusively in the occupation of the Palestinians. That is not a new policy for the PCUSA. The church mission has always been to support peacemaking through non-violent methods such as this one. The church had negotiated with those companies for over ten years before taking the divesting action. Those companies decided not to change their policies in spite of their mission statements for peace.

    Remember that it was Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr., Rosa Parks, and church members that began the USA’s Civil Rights Movement with a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in the Fifties. Remember that it was churches along with Nelson Mandela that first backed the economic anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa in the Eighties. Aren’t we thankful that no one was foolish enough to try to sue the churches over either of those transformative movements?


Please help us defray the costs of providing this free service with your non-tax-deductible contribution in any amount

Most recent 100 posts


Follow this blog

Email address