The man known as America’s pastor was among those targeted by the Internal Revenue Service after the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association ran newspaper advertisements promoting traditional marriage and biblical values.
“I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the Administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us,” wrote Franklin Graham in a letter to President Obama. “This is morally wrong and unethical – indeed some would call it ‘un-American.’”
Graham is president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as well as the international charity Samaritan’s Purse. Both organizations received word of audits on the same day – not long after they ran full –page ads supporting North Carolina’s Marriage amendment.
The ads encouraged voters to “cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel.”
The ad concluded with the words, “Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me (Billy Graham) that America will remain one nation under God.”
Graham said on Sept. 6, 2012 they received notification that the IRS would audit their taxes.
“In light of what the IRS admitted to on Friday, May 10, 2013, and subsequent revelations from other sources, I do not believe that the IRS audit of our two organizations last year is a coincidence – or justifiable,” Graham wrote.
Mark Demoss, a spokesman for Graham, told Fox News it was the first time the ministry had been audited in its history.
“These certainly appear to be politically motivated since the ministry had run some newspaper ads – not mentioning any candidates – simply urging people to vote for candidates with biblical values,” he said.
DeMoss called the IRS audit “very troubling and said it could have a “chilling effect on people across the country.”
“It would suggest that these audits are not random because the Billy Graham organization and Samaritan’s Purse were notified of the audit on the same day and they are located in different parts of North Carolina,” DeMoss said. “It doesn’t look very good.”
The IRS eventually cleared both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, but Graham noted that the audit cost the ministries money.
“Unfortunately, while these audits not only wasted taxpayer money, they wasted money contributed by donors for ministry purposes, as we had to spend precious resources servicing the IRS agents in our offices,” Graham wrote.