IRS Claims Tax-Exempt Status for Colleges Won’t Be Tested, But American Pastors Network Says Troubles Not Off the Table

Earlier this month, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen reinforced the tax agency’s commitment not to go after the tax-exempt status of religious colleges and universities that oppose gay marriage.

On Aug. 3, Koskinen told the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts that “we see no basis for changing our examination criteria as a result of this Supreme Court case,” according to coverage by the Washington Post. Going forward, the Commissioner added, any scrutiny of schools’ tax-exempt status would be open for public comment, likely not to happen in the next two and a half years.

“There would be no surprises,” Koskinen said. “The public would have plenty of notice and plenty of opportunity to comment.” His words, however, added a possible caveat for the future, as he further stated, “At this time (emphasis added) there is no basis for us to revisit tax-exempt status on that grounds. We will continue, obviously, to ensure that those who enjoy tax-exempt status are still doing the work they said they were going to do.”

Sam Rohrer, president of the American Pastors Network (APN,, said that while many may breathe a sigh of relief at the news, the announcement doesn’t negate possible troubles for Christian colleges that rest on their convictions, and thereby their policies, regarding the biblical definition of marriage.

“This particular IRS Commissioner, unfortunately, doesn’t have the ability to make any promises for the agency that will apply into the future,” Rohrer said. “And because he used the disclaimer of ‘at this time,’ the statement leaves the door open for a menagerie of incidents that could involve Christian colleges—and even churches—in the future.

“At the end of the day,” Rohrer continued, “actions against the 501(c)(3) status for colleges, nonprofits or others will not be decided by the IRS and its recent statements. It will be decided by lawsuits that will undoubtedly be filed through the courts. In the end, the broader move to purge religious freedom from our culture is significant. No one should believe they are secure in the presence of a hostile postmodern culture.”

APN urges colleges, universities, churches or any religious institution with a tax-exempt status to connect with APN and keep on top of the legal status of this important issue. Through its radio programming and electronic newsletters, APN helps educate about the religious freedoms of individuals and organizations. For more information on religious liberties at the college and university level, visit

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