A group strongly opposed to LGBT rights
has declared itself a church.
Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch
reports that the Colorado Springs-based Christian conservative
organization founded by James Dobson as recently as the 2014 fiscal
year filed as a non-church 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
“But when the group posted a Form 990
for the 2015 fiscal year on its website – dated October 26, 2017,
and reporting a massive budget of $89 million – it was emblazoned
with the message 'Not required to file and not filed with the IRS.
Not for public inspection,'” Blue
Focus on the Family identified itself
as a “church, convention of churches or association of churches”
on the form. The IRS lists the group as a church that is not
required to file a 990.
The group is politically outspoken and
has advocated against LGBT rights, including marriage equality and
adoption by gay and lesbian couples. On its website, the group warns
against a supposed threat to bathroom safety posed by transgender
on the Family's Jim Daly compares gay marriage to adultery.)
Gail Harmon, an attorney who has
advised nonprofits on tax law for more than 30 years, called the
“There's nothing about them that
meets the traditional definition of what a church is,” Harmon said.
“They don't have a congregation, they don't have the rites of
various parts of a person's life. There's a whole system for what a
In addition to not being required to
file with the IRS, churches are rarely audited.
At an event last year celebrating Focus
on the Family's 40th anniversary, Vice
President Mike Pence promised the group it had an “unwavering ally”
in President Donald Trump.
In 2009, Focus on the Family sold its
“ex-gay” ministry Love Won Out to Exodus International. Four
years later, the ministry apologized for the harm it had caused LGBT
people and acknowledged that its mission – to “cure” LGBT
people of their sexuality or gender identity – was a hollow