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BREAKING: Catholic League 'targeted' by IRS.

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for the Obama administration, Dr. Donohue drops another bombshell:

The problems with the IRS extend beyond playing politics with conservative groups seeking a tax-exempt status. I have never made this public before, but given the heightened interest in the way the IRS has conducted itself, the time has come to disclose what happened.Just weeks after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I was notified by the IRS that the Catholic League was under investigation for violating the IRS Code on political activities as it relates to 501(c)(3) organizations. What the IRS did not know was that I had proof who contacted them to launch the investigation: Catholics United, a George Soros-funded Catholic organization.The IRS was contacted on June 5, 2008, to launch a probe of the Catholic League, and the letter sent to me was dated Nov. 24, 2008.

Does the Obama administration have no shame? Are there no depths to which it will not -- wait, what's that? Obama wasn't inaugurated until January 2009? So this actually happened under George W. Bush? And Catholics United never made a secret of its concerns about the Catholic League's tax status? Nor is the group really funded by George Soros? And Donohue has a history of complaining to the IRS about liberals?Oh. Never mind.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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I demand that the Obama Administration be investigated for its role in fomenting Shays' Rebellion. And also for suppressing it.Are you listening, Rep. Issa?

Ah, but notice that the temperate and careful Dr. Donohue never actually accuses Obama of anything. It's just a helpful temporal reference, like saying, "Just a week after United Auto Workers marched in a Labor Day parade in 2001, terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center."There may be something in Catholic ethics that covers that kind of speech, but hey, he's just stating the chronology.

Do we reach a point where even quoting Donohue in his own words becomes uncharitable? Kicking him after he's knocked himself down?

I want to thank you for finding the press release in which Donohue said this amazing thing: "Whats driving this is a curious admixture of racism and anti-Catholicism. Quite simply, there are no standards for blacks and a double standard for Catholics." !!

Amazing, right?

Does anyone seriously believe it would be possible to stop Bill Donohue from knocking himself down? More to the point, he is a grown man who consistently seeks public attention to what he believes are serious threats. If they are indeed threats and are indeed serious I don't believe anyone would argue against requiring he spend sufficient time and resources researching the facts prior to claiming harm.We are daily bombarded with utter nonsense claiming to be yet another indisputable sign of impending doom. Such behavior from a grown man claiming to hold dearly a 2000 year old faith based on the life of Christ seems more than a little inconsistent and utterly unhelpful.

I appreciate the thought that went into the selection of a photo to accompany this post.A post about Donohue spewing fake crap.A photo of Donohue holding fake crap must Donohue do to get the four leaders of our Church quoted below (and others) to disavow his embarrassing and damaging antics?I appreciate Dr. Donohue and the work done by The Catholic League. I look forward to the day when the work done by the Catholic League is no longer necessary. Sadly, as recent events have proven once again, that day still seems far in the future. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New YorkThe Catholic League has the courage to speak up candidly and forcefully for the Church when circumstances call for fighting the good fight. The League should be on every Catholics short list of essential organizations to support. Most Rev. Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.Archbishop of PhiladelphiaI am privileged to support the Catholic League. The work of the Catholic League is invaluable and its accomplishments over the years are unparalleled. Cardinal Edwin OBrienPro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order (Knights) of the Holy Sepulchre of JerusalemThe Catholic League has done much to ensure that the Churchs positions are presented clearly and fairly. Too often those who do not understand the Church or Her teachings are the interpreters of the doctrines and events in the life of the Church. The work of the League is important in the mission of the Church which must teach the hard truths of the Gospel in season and out of season. Sean Cardinal OMalley, O.F.M. Cap.Archbishop of Boston

Thanks for posting this story, Grant.It's good to see that you're keeping an eye on Bill Donohue.

I must also come forward. I have always been worried that the IRS might target my nonprofit. As a result, it has forced me to take great pains to comply with the tax laws.

I was just getting around to blaming Barack Obama for breaking up the Beatles. He sent Yoko Ono and Linda Eastman from Kenya, right? Or was it Indonesia? I forget.

If George Soros didn't exist, the right wing would have to invent him; they need a liberal archvillain to "prove" they're victims of the vast left-wing conspiracy. Because, the urban legend website, frequently debunks anti-Clinton and anti-Obama falsehoods, there's even a rumor that Soros owns the snopes website. He doesn't.Actually, though it's in the billions, Soros' fortune is dwarfed by the Koch brothers'.

My concern would not be so much about which group could claim targeting or victim status but the fact that they may have been targeted by the IRS for ideological reasons. That is a very chilling thought.The Commonweal Foundation that partly funds Commonweal (and I am happily a paying member of this community and will continue to be so) is tax exempt, as I understand it. This is because the content is religious. However, it is obvious where political sympathies lie and this magazine has been more than active in public policy, social justice, and political issues. It would be inappropriate for the IRS to try to intimidate Commonweal and threaten to remove status for ideological reasons.I think a full scale investigation should be conducted into the activity of the IRS as targeting groups, any groups, in this fashion, is something that needs to be fixed and addressed.

While I'd like to believe I grasp fully the notion ideology play no discernable role in the functioning of an agency of our government I do not believe that is realistically possible. It seems to me a particularly unrealistic expectation to have from a group of accountants. A group of individuals by choice isolated from society dependant near exclusively on their crops and livestock spending their time solely in prayer for others is likely altogether a non-profit. Beyond that, the water gets murky. For example, is a single parent making $2.50/hour plus tips considered a non-profit when tips are consistently very low for a month or two? If the answer is based largely a capitalistic ideology the answer would likely differ from that based on a less largely materialistic ideology. Bottom line, can the term non-profit be defined with sufficient clarity to be useful in all cases? Is it possible to separate ourselves from our ideology? Do we really want to do so?I find Obama's ability to tolerate near lunacy remarkable. For that reason if I had seen anything remotely resembling the indignant outrage now flying about when Rove, et. al, cut loose with Crossroads GPS I might indeed find myself in quite a practical and philosophical quandry. As it is, it seems to me this outrage is yet another truly balant example of near classical hypocrisy.On a saner note, check out the Youtube link to Barney and Andy in the comments on The Ultimate Indignity piece. It's a near Godsend.


BREAKING: The official who was Commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities division of the Internal Revenue Service in 2008 was Steven Miller -- the same Steven Miller who is the current Acting Commissioner of the IRS and whose resignation was demanded by President Obama.When you try to play this partisan game of deflection and diversion, make sure that it doesn't blow up in your face like this.

Could it be considered targeting if the IRS investigation is in response to citizen complaints? As in the case of the Catholic League? If it came out that the Catholic League had violated the political activity prohibition and that the IRS had received complaints and didn't follow up, wouldn't that be problematic?

How many filings did the IRS have in that wonderful season of Glenn Beck and sun, when anybody with an Uncle Sam costume and a video camera could become a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) organization? In other words, he or she could be what she never heard of before someone told her that saving the country is tax exempt. And, in other words, he or she could hear that he or she could become one of those things before ever hearing the word "accountant" much less having one. How much of this gunk flowed into the IRS in those thrilling days of yesteryear? And what should the IRS have done about it? No answers, so far, to those questions. From anybody.

The fact that Donohue's marriage did not work out can be understandable. But the fact that he says that marriage is not about love and his reliance on Leviticus makes him a laughingstock/hypocrite. That prominent American archbishops sing his praises says plenty about them. Clearly they depict a Catholic church that is preoccupied with abortion and same sex marriage. Despite protests to the contrary this seem to be all they have. This is terribly sad and reprehensible.

Grant, With all due respect, why do you keep giving Donohue oxygen? Didn't Sarah Silverman point out that the Catholic League is one guy with a computer? That simplifies it a bit, I know, but I think there is some truth to it. Don't we have anything more soul- centric to talk about than Bill Donohue?

I agree with Brian Pinter.What about a post giving Pope Francis's very powerful critique, in a public discourse yesterday, of financial greed, the idolization of money, and the tendency of the present global economic system to condemn vast numbers of people to lives of poverty and subhuman conditions?

I second John Page's comment about Pope Francis' speech yesterday.

Or how about this - America ran a column that underscores how the New Testament catalogs gossip and slander:'s worth reading and discussing, especially in our culture. Bill Donohue' outrages are like Page 6 stuff for progressive Catholics. Juicy, but bad for the soul.

Please forward all concerns about the state of my soul to the IRS.

Grant - I was talking about everybody's souls. Don't take it personally.

Allow me to rephrase: Lighten up.

I, for one, am appalled by the list of bishops (helpfully offered by Jack Marth above) who support and endorse Donohue and the Catholic League. They are the ones giving him oxygen, and cloaking his irresponsible nonsense in the mantle of respectability. They are, pardon the expression, confusing the faithful. Because as long as they pat him on the back, there will be some who view his pronouncements as coming with the nihil obstat. This, I would humbly submit, is the more important story here. It's not that a loudmouth is carrying on irresponsibly. It's the fact that he's endorsed by the bishops of prominent dioceses while doing the same.

Rita's spot on. Without the ecclesiastical oxygen, there'd be little to no response to the CL fire drills.

William Donohue and the Catholic League should be investigated. Way to go IRS!IMHO, the CL is little more than phony front for US Catholic hierarchy to get their "not-ready-for-primetime" retrograde ideology, especially anti-feminine ideology, out into the media. Donohue only says what most bishops would like to say publicly but can't without over stepping political bounds, or most importantly to the hierarchs, their tax-exempt status.

Would someone be so kind as to differentiate between a 501(c)3 organization whose purpose is restricted to charitable or educational purposes and a 501(c)4 organization whose primary purpose is "social welfare" originally envisioned as self-help local groups like neighborhood associations? The perversion is that some in both sections have abandoned their primary work which is legitimately tax-exempt to indulge in no holds barred politicking and the pass through of huge sums of anonymous campaign donations from so many secret corporate and uber rich sources. Look closely to see what they actually do, not what they say they do.

The hey distinction may be between 529 groups (e.g., Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) which are required to disclose their contributors and 501(c)(4) groups (e.g., Crossroads GPS) which do not. Since Citizens United removed any practical contribution or spending limitations, the premium that 501(c)(4) status offers is that black veil on anonymity.

Mike Evans:501c3s can engage in a limited amount of lobbying, but NO political activity at all.501c4s can engage in unlimited lobbying and some limited political activity.

Has it struck anyone else that conservative Catholics outraged that the IRS would target groups at the behest of ideologues and anonymous complaints are the same folks who endorse such tactics when carried out by the CDF? Or by those who write to bishops and pastors when they suspect someone in the parish is gay?

The Washington Post Editorial Board said on May 16 that "The IRS targeting conservative opponents of Mr. Obama for special scrutiny is horrifying and inexcusable."

I understand the point Mr. Pinter is making about how focusing on this sort of stuff can be bad for the soul. I know, for example, I am not inclined to be my best loving and forgiving Christian self when I consider Dr. Donohue and the support he enjoys from the leadership of the Church. That being said -- I hope Commonweal continues to pay close attention to the antics, lies and distortions of Donohue and the Catholic League. Even if nothing changes in the Catholic League or with its bishop endorsers, it is important that a place exists where people who share the name Catholic can publicly offer intelligent (even snarky) dissent. If nothing else when we are asked about Donohue's delusional, hate-filled, homophobic bilge, we can say -- "Go check out dotCommonweal -- you'll see many Catholics are appalled by this man." I also think there are many, many posts and discussions here which are very "soul-centric". In fact, the majority. To imply otherwise is terribly unfair to Mr. Gallicho in particular and dotCommonweal in general. There was no need to link to America (not that there is anything wrong with that!) if the goal was simply to give examples of edifying, soul-centric posts and discussions.

David G. --Pope Francis recently used some very strong language to describe snitches. (I can't remember where I read it.) I bet his experience living under the Argentine dictatorship had something to do with that.

It may be a tenuous connection, but because Mr. Pinter works at Regis, this inspiring, soul-enriching story and video of a Regis student made me think linking it here appropriate. Li's line about "my parents room emits a smell from the restaurant uniforms they wear seven days a week, all year round, reminded me of Pope Francis' wonderful reflections on the need for "shepherds living with the smell of the sheep." Perhaps even Dr. Donohue might agree the anti-Catholic NY Times gets it right occasionally?

There are many loudmouths out there who are a good deal more marginalized than Donohue. In my opinion, the root problem is that he has been clever and aggressive enough to corner the market for something that strikes a chord with a lot of people and for which there is in fact a genuine need, which he fills badly: shining a light on examples of ignorance and bias in the larger culture.It would be a tremendous service to both the church and the culture if someone would take it upon her/himself to build an alternative to Donohue and the Catholic League - to put forth a voice that is reasoned and responsible.

Jim P. =I agree. But the current polarization within the American Church would make it hard to explain sometimes just exactly what our beliefs are.

Has it struck anyone else that conservative Catholics outraged that the IRS would target groups at the behest of ideologues and anonymous complaints are the same folks who endorse such tactics when carried out by the CDFWhy would that strike anyone as a pertinent point? The tax arm of the U.S. government is supposed to be neutral concerning any and all political positions, whereas the Catholic Church is not supposed to be neutral as between Catholicism and unCatholic teachings. Also, the U.S. government has the power to throw people in jail, whereas . . . oh, never mind, if you thought that was an apt comparison in the first place, it isn't any use pointing out all the reasons why the U.S. government bears a different relationship to its citizens than the Catholic Church does to its employees.

@Jim Pauwels -- I just don't see the "genuine need" -- at least not in the US. There is no widespread anti-Catholic bias. Of course there is ignorance and there is isolated bias -- i.e. there are Donohues outside the Catholic Church. I see no great need to confront these folks except by demanding accountability from our Church's often dysfunctional leadership and to work hard at being the best reflection of gospel values we can be.

I think there is lots of anti-Catholic bias in the US. Read the comments after any kind of post about Pope Francis on Huffingotn Post or any of the news websites. All kinds of really bigoted things are said, even when the comments/actions of the Pope would be something the target audience would applaud coming from another source.

" I see no great need to confront these folks except by demanding accountability from our Churchs often dysfunctional leadership and to work hard at being the best reflection of gospel values we can be."One of the great flaws to Donohue's approach - and it is not unique to him; it seems to come with the territory in anti-defamation work - is that he is hyper-confrontational. When ignorance or bias makes itself known, it doesn't always require a full, frontal attack with all guns blazing. There are times when it is sufficient, and arguably more effective, to shine a light on the problem area, and let people work through the issue and come to the right conclusion on their own. And it's not necessary to position every offense as an instance of some grand conspiracy or as part of an unceasing culture war.(This presupposes that Donohue and the Catholic League are responding to genuine instances of ignorance and bias. They do from time to time, although I didn't find many examples on the front page of the Catholic League website at this time).

The abuse of the president's "enemies", for political purposes, by the IRS could not be more serious. Surely the scandal deserves more considered commentary from the president's "friends." I hope we get it.

Mr. Pauwels -- I resonate with much of what you say. The disconnect for me is your proposal to build an alternative to the Catholic League. I don't see the need. Or maybe it would be better to say -- the alternative exists. It is called the Church. If we work hard at being the Church Jesus calls us to be (including honest appraisal of the sins and failings of the Church) -- any negative power arising from ignorance and bias becomes more an more marginal and insignificant. Another thought comes to mind --we are not called to battle defamation. The message of the beatitudes suggests we should welcome it.

Mr. Marth,I think there is a misunderstanding here. I only linked the America article because I thought it was a good one. I have seen other blogs link to commonweal, and I didn't think any less of the commenter because of it. I didn't think I implied that Commonweal fails to publish worthwhile articles (at least I didn't say that), I was just saying that the topic of Billl Donohue is not a worthwhile one. We all know who he is, what he does, and how he does it. Nothing has changed with him, and I don't anticipate it will change. If Donohue came forward to apologize for acting like a bully and announced that the Catholic League is will be seeking to engage others in dialogue, not confrontation, I think that would be deserving of a post on dotCommonweal.

Check out the Catholic League's rating on Charity Navigator, where it gets one out of four stars, and ranks third on the list of "highly paid CEOs at low rated charities". In 2011, Mr. D. apparently pulled down $374,500 as his salary making up 11.8% of the total expenses of $3,177,066, while other administrative and fund raising expenses gobbled up over $1,000,000 more, leaving some $1,600,000 for program expenses. Anti-Catholicism on the part of Charity Navigator? But plenty of Catholic organizations, including various state and national Catholic Charities, and Catholic Relief Services, get the four star (top) rating. Since I know you're all wondering who leads the list of highly paid CEOs and low rated charities, it's the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. See: will also tell you the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation comes in at number 10. The YWCA USA comes in at 6.

It appears to me that many are missing the forest for the trees. The real issue of concern here is that for years, Geroge Soros has been funding (and generously), not only anti-Catholicism, but abortion and anti-Americanisn. Any faithful Catholic should take great objection to all three. In addition, any Catholic associated in any way with many of the Soros funded anti-catholic front groups, should be speaking out against the damaging groups and the message. To fail to do that is to be complicit in the anit-catholic campagin. Me thinks there is a bit of 'false anger' going on here. What sense does it make to be attacking Bill D or even Obama while ignoring the source, George Soros? Doing that sends the message that Bill D is more important than the anti-Catholic Propaganda; not exactly an admirable good Catholic example.

What hogwash. You don't get to run around our website smearing people. Show your math or move along.

After reading the NY Times this morning: wondered how long it would take Dr. Donohue to attack. Not long:

Irene: is it anti-Catholic bias or the objections of people who are unhappy about the way that the Catholic Church in this country attempts to constantly interfere in the lives of people who disagree with the stated positions of the church?Abortion.Contraception.Marriage Equality.Rights to discriminate.Unionizing of Catholic schools and hospitals.Obamacare.Etc.

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