NASHVILLE – National Religious Broadcasters officials are watching in anticipation to see if the Internal Revenue Service will launch an investigation into whether or not watchdog group Media Matters violated its 501(c)(3) status when it accepted money from a special interest group to attack religious conservatives.
In light of recent revelations that Media Matters accepted a $50,000 grant to attack religious broadcasters such as the late Jerry Falwell and Focus on the Family's chairman emeritus James Dobson, NRB Executive Board Treasurer Janet Parshall told The Christian Post, "I'm going to be curious to see if someone is going to vet this organization that in fact they haven't violated their 501(c)(3)."
Once an investigation is conducted, Parshall anticipates that Media Matters will be exposed as a front organization for political progressive groups.
"If you start looking into who the donors are, where the funding mechanisms that started coming into Media Matters [came from], you realize that these are not tabula rasa, these are not blank slates, these are people who have [a] particular worldview, a particular agenda legislatively, politically, and they want Media Matters as someone to help shape and mold the debate," she asserted on Saturday.
This past week, The Daily Caller revealed that Media Matters accepted a $50,000 grant from the social equity and justice group The Arca Foundation to "monitor and attack" religious news outlets like the Christian Broadcasting Network and Focus on the Family.
Parshall's husband, NRB Senior Vice President and General Council Craig Parshall, said he was very "disturbed" by the news.
"We are firm believers in the freedom of the press and the First Amendment. That means every press on the left side of the political spectrum, on the right, the middle and everyone in between. It also means that we got to be legitimate journalists, which means we cover stories rather than trying to destroy other media outlets."
A spokesperson for The Arca Foundation said that grant recipients largely have the right to decide how to use its funds and denied lobbying Media Matters. However The Daily Caller revealed that Arca would sometimes specify how funds should be used.
IRS guidelines require that 501(c)(3) non-profit groups refrain from adopting political stances.
Many religious groups are also considered 501(c)(3) organization according to tax laws. If The Arca Foundation is not investigated, Parshall expressed that it may create a double standard.
"I find it interesting and problematic that [Media Matters is] supposed to be categorically a 501(c)(3). So, what happens to those of us particularly in the world of religious broadcasting and church organizations who work within the parameters of a 501(c)(3) knowing full well what we can and cannot do and [that they] will meet the likes of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State if we cross that trip wire and go over to the other side."
The NRB will hold a press conference to encourage religious broadcasters in light of the controversy surrounding Media Matters. NRB President and CEO Frank Wright said in a statement, "We see a good news/bad news landscape right now – signs of optimism on the religious liberty front and yet at the same time ominous indicators that faith-based ministries are being challenged as never before."
He continued, "At our press conference we will be sharing a glimpse of NRB's steady, and committed resolve to keep the doors of all media and information platforms open for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Despite the controversy, Janet Parshall, who is also the host of the nationally syndicated radio show "In the Market," encouraged religious groups to continue spreading their message.
"We need to continue to proclaim without blush or embarrassment; we need to never be reticent … We must never bow in acquiescence to the bludgeoning tool known as tolerance," she said.