Recently, the IRS has started to take the entire area of illegal electioneering by dominionist churches and 501(c)3 nonprofits rather more seriously, and in a tit-for-tat move dominionist groups are now going after blogs of progressive organisations--in essence threatening lawsuits and hinting at complaints to the IRS to have their 501(c)3 statuses removed. (In fact, a blog operated by a friend has recently been targeted in such a fashion.)
In this article, we give a bit of info on the new tool that dominionist and even some racist groups are using in attempts to stifle dissent--and the ongoing campaigns to make certain dominionist groups follow the law.
Blogs and electioneering and fun with finance law
The first part of this story comes in back in 2006, stemming from Bush-era initiatives to expand electioneering laws to private blogs (these in general have failed so far) stemming from a 2004 court decision that the FEC could not exempt blogs from regulations i regards to promoting candidates.
In general, the FEC has been using a press exemption since 2005 for blogs, but this has not stopped groups on occasion from threatening progressive blog sites, but there is still some legal uncertainty if a blogger who puts more than $5000 in "work" or funds on a site is considered to be going over the "in kind donatin limit".
It doesn't help that FEC rulings during the Bush era have generally been unfavourable to blog sites even with traditional grassroots fundraising.
Ironically, the rule that has led to this mess was a 2002 campaign financing act that was originally designed to prevent overt electioneering by corporations and unions close to campaign time (ironically, the court decision upholding this law resulted when Mitch McConnell--GOP ringleader and friend to the dominionist GOP wing in KY--attempted to have it overturned as the law was essentially interfering with ongoing "astroturf" campaigns.)
The rulings in the Obama administration, including the most recent ruling that essentially states that private blogs in support or opposition to a candidate are okay, have tended to be more favourable towards private advocacy of candidates. (The latest court decision involved a notably conservative group which supported candidates in favour of major relaxations of campaign finance rules.)
Attacks against blogs and bloggers
Dominionists and other groups have taken advantage of this to start targeting progressive organisations explicitly fighting dominionism--usually claiming that a progressive group or blog site is engaging in electioneering, and essentially threatening they will target the group to force them to register as a PAC or to have their tax-exempt status removed.
A number of sites have been threatened with this, including DailyKos (because of advocacy of progressive Democratic candidates by independent bloggers on the site), Americans United, People for the American Way, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center (which increasingly has been reporting on distressing trends among dominionist groups, including virulent anti-LGBT hate-speech and association with neo-Confederate groups) and even some independent anti-dominionist blog sites.
In other words, they are threatening a variation of what has been termed a SLAPP--Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, essentially a form of censorship-by-lawsuit. (It's been described as the legal equivalent of "Shut up and sit down", after an infamous quote by one of the NAR-linked steeplejackers of Singaporean women's NGO AWARE; aforementioned head of the board was trying to stifle dissent in the emergency board meeting where "people power" successfully took control back.)
Of note, the use of SLAPPs to shut down criticism is not only NOT unknown by dominionists, but is a common tool across coercive religious groups in general. An anti-dominionist group on an independent forum which I participate in was threatened with a SLAPP by a dominionist "deliverance ministry" promoter (who claims to be an ex-Mafioso who had a religious conversion) when information on his site and a linked site was posted; Operation Save America (a group that is essentially the modern continuation of Operation Rescue and which has such extensive linkage to the Army of God domestic terror network that both it and its "parent" Operation Rescue can legitimately be described as the Sinn Fein to the Army of God's "Real IRA") regularly has threatened SLAPPs against critics, particularly those connected to reproductive-rights advocacy; dominionist coercive "Messianic" group Jews for Jesus has engaged in not only SLAPPs but attempts at domain hijacking to shut down a walkaway forum critical of the group; the Assemblies of God has regularly attempts SLAPPs against walkaways in Oz (including an attempt, via a threatened SLAPP against her original publisher under the broadly abusable libel laws in Australia, to squelch publication of Tanya Levin's expose of Hillsong Community Church entitled "People In Glass Houses") and against pastors who got expelled due to reporting to the church administration about religious abuse simply for writing about the NARasitisation of the denomination; and finally even a company responsible for what amounts to "Joel's Army endtime fanfiction" threatened SLAPPs against not only every anti-dominionist site that had reported on "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" (a tactical RPG where one literally played a dominionist "endtime army" which did include a feature where one could convert--or kill--"unbelievers") but even against an independent game review blog that had given it a poor rating.
There may in fact be a reason that dominionist groups are using the threat of tax exemption revocation on progressive non-profits in particular (many of which have blogs, and some of who have staff that blog independently or on independent sites NOT associated with the nonprofit they work for)...namely, this is an increasing, and far more legitimate threat, against dominionist groups themselves.
Electioneering starts to get risky for dominionists
Since 2006 (when the "new generation" of anti-dominionism activism started ramping up)--and particularly since the Obama administration--the IRS has become increasingly intolerant of nonprofit groups engaging in explicit political electioneering, even issuing explicit warnings to churches and to political parties in 2008 to remind them that electioneering for specific candidates, parties, or bills was prohibited.
The last major wave where the IRS gave the hairy eyeball to dominionist groups was during the Clinton administration--during that period, the Christian Coalition lost their tax-exemption (and essentially ceased to exist as a major force in the dominionist movement), the Kentucky-based NAR-linked "Freedom's Heritage Forum" was stripped of its tax-exemption and actually legally required to reorganise as a PAC (and now operates as a shell PAC of AFA-KY, the state American Family Association affiliate), and Focus on the Family nearly lost its tax-exempt status due to activities of the then-affiliated Family Research Council (thus forcing FotF to spin this off as a supposedly-independent group, and promptly forming the shell org "Focus on the Family Action" for the identical purposes of FRC).
As it turns out, the IRS is again turning its eyes to major dominionist groups--among other things, Focus on the Family has undergone some major reorganisation (including spinoff of at least one group that promoted "degaying" and separating itself on paper from James Dobson's massive dominionist publishing empire) and there have been rumours that FotF is being investigated by the IRS. In addition, thanks to the revelations of the "C Street" shenanigans, possibly the most secretive and oldest political dominionist group in the US--the Family aka the Fellowship--is reportedly under IRS investigation thanks to efforts by anti-dominionist activists and the anti-corruption organisation Citizens United.
A surprising amount of the efforts to fight abuse of tax exemptions by dominionist groups has been by evangelical Christians and faith groups. An ongoing Congressional investigation of several televangelists connected to an embezzlement scandal at Oral Roberts University was launched by Senator Chuck Grassley--normally a friend to dominionist initiatives, but apparently not a friend to institutionalised corruption by dominionist groups.
An even more notable example is with a growing coalition of anti-dominionist pastors and other religious leaders in Ohio who have (since 2006) been recording violations of electioneering law and challenging the tax-exempt status of churches in Ohio that are the center of the dominionist electioneering engine--including World Harvest Church of Columbus, which is not only at the heart of the dominionist movement in Ohio but is behind a growing movement to encourage illegal electioneering from the pulpit, particularly in Texas.
Perhaps as a result of the busts in the 1990s and the threat of busts nowadays of tax-exemption revocation, dominionist groups (most notably the "American historical revisionist" and NAR-associated group Wallbuilders) are explicitly organising as churches themselves; much of the actual electioneering has also been ongoing for decades within NAR-linked churches and "cuckoo church" laymen's "cell churches". This is to take advantage of a specific tax loophole for churches--alone of all 501(c)3 nonprofits, churches do not have to file a form 990 (the equivalent for nonprofits of a 1040 form) meaning it is very easy to hide the profits and sources of funding and who the group itself is funding. (This is actually why Chuck Grassley has had to issue a Congressional subpoena to many of the televangelists he's investigating for possible embezzlement; there are no public records available because they don't have to file a form 990.)
Needless to say, the threat to their funding would be substantial if they had their tax-exempt revoked. Focus on the Family has historically pulled in upwards of $140,000,000 US (this year, between the economy and reorganisations, it may be less, but still in the high tens of millions US), and most other political dominionist groups pull in tens of millions of dollars US. For the VERY few NAR-linked groups that financial info is available for--such as the Lausanne Conference--the figures tend to dwarf even those of Focus on the Family; some pull in $240 million yearly.
And this is still dwarfed by the worst offenders--dominionist denominations themselves such as the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention. Based on known finances of frontgroups of the Assemblies (such as known funding for the publically documented parts of Teen Challenge and Mercy Ministries), the figure is potentially in the billions of dollars US of taxable income. (We can't say for certain, though--this is just estimated based on what precious little is available.) It's actually been stated by multiple researchers that removal of the "Form 1023 Loophole" (the form 1023 being the statement to the IRS that a group is a church, essentially the "get out of jail free" card) would do wonders in shutting down much of the dominionist engine simply because the funding sources of the "dominionist engine" would suddenly be tracable for the first time.
(Of note here: The Assemblies in particular has a very good case of having its own tax-exempt status revoked as it is not only consistently ranked as one of the worst offenders by Americans United for electioneering violations but has engaged in direct funding of GOP candidate's election campaigns, been a recipient of non-negligible largesse from known friendlies (up to and even including giving the legislative equivalent of a "get out of jail free" card to one of the most confirmedly abusive "faith based rehab" chains in the US which is one of three separate Assemblies frontgroups in that sector worldwide) and even explicitly encouraging dominionist pastors to disregard Congressional subpoenas in Grassley's probe. The situation is even worse if international electioneering--including the Family First party in Australia, a de facto official Assemblies political party that in itself is a front of Hillsong Community Church, is considered.)
It's also not coincidential that a lot of the progressive groups being threatened due to their blog sites--or due to employees having blog sites--is because these groups themselves are among those who regularly challenge the tax-exempt status of dominionist groups engaging in illegal electioneering.