The latest TikTok challenge targets the tax-exempt status of churches whose pastors talk politics from the pulpit.
In order to be exempt from taxes, the Internal Revenue Service prohibits nonprofit organizations, such as churches, from a variety of activities, including involvement in political campaigns and excessive lobbying.
Critics have long complained that the law is essentially toothless because it is almost never enforced against religious institutions.
But TikToker want to change that. Reporting churches for violating bans on political speech appears to be the platform’s latest effort.
The challenge is inspired in part by a Tennessee pastor’s wild tangent.
“If you vote Democrat, I don’t even want you in this church,” Greg Locke of the Global Vision Baptist Church ranted at a recent service.
“You can get out. You can get out, demon. You can get out, you baby slaughtering election thief. You can’t be a Christian and vote Democrats in this nation. I don’t care how angry this makes you. You can get as mad as you want. You cannot be a Christian in this nation and vote for Democrats.”
Locke, whose recent escapades include threatening to expose “witches” in his community, also had some choice words for Republicans.
A complaint filed with the IRS says he called Democrats and Republicans “two heads of the same snake” and that “my allegiance is not to any party, my allegiance is to the kingdom of God.” This gang of corrupt, pedophile, sex trafficking Republicans who need to be exposed and eliminated as well.”
TikTokers was soon releasing clips of Locke railing against Democrats.
The videos inspired the most bureaucratic TikTok challenge yet: filing complaints with the IRS.
“If he’s allowed to talk politics in church, he should be allowed to pay taxes, too,” one commented on TikToker del (@adhdeconstruction)’s post with Locke’s comments, which has 800,000 views as of this writing.
Soon after, other TikTokers started posting duets with del’s clip. Many direct people to file IRS Form 13909 to complain that Locke violated the ban on campaigning from the pulpit.
Dozens of TikToks now contain both #GregLocke and #IRS. Some have tens of thousands of views.
People love the idea.
“Me: On the way to staples for printer ink and tons of printer paper. That’s my job now,” one TikToker commented on one of the most viewed TikToks of Locke’s church reporting to the IRS.
Another said: “I printed out four to send to churches that have hosted him.”
During the Sunday service, Locke claimed he revoked the church’s charitable status because “the government won’t tell me what I can and can’t say.”
The Daily Dot could not confirm this. Neither Locke nor his church appear on Charity Navigator or GuideStar, which track charitable organizations. Churches are not required to apply to the IRS for recognition of tax-exempt status.
A group is offer a hat as a reward for anyone who can name Locke’s charitable organization, if it exists or has existed.
The challenge has also left TikTok. Now people are sharing it on other platforms and suggesting to file complaints against other churches.
“Yeah, take her where it’s really going to hurt.” tweeted @MxViceEducation.
In less than 12 hours, a post about the “new challenge” on the white man’s Twitter subreddit garnered more than 40,000 upvotes and almost 800 comments.
One Redditor in the comments complained that his church raises millions annually and his senior pastor lives in a mansion, while he often engages in political speeches during services.
“You should submit a 13909,” one replied.
Another agreed: “Report them; They commit tax fraud.”
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*Initial publication: May 24, 2022 at 10:05 am CDT
Claire Goforth is a staff writer at the Daily Dot and covers all topics related to politics and technology with a focus on far right and conspiracy theories.
https://www.dailydot.com/debug/tiktok-challenge-report-churches-irs-political-speech/ Reporting Churches to IRS for Political Speeches