Watchdogs Want IRS Probe of Christian Group

    An organization that monitors religious groups has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family broke the law by trying to sway presidential election voters.

    In a letter Tuesday to the IRS, Citizens Project complained about a November article in a magazine printed by Focus comparing presidential candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry and their positions on abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage.

    “You’re pro-life, and you want to preserve the traditional definition of marriage for the next generation,” the article states. “So which of the presidential candidates comes closest to sharing your values?”

    As a nonprofit organization, Focus on the Family is forbidden to endorse political candidates or parties.

    “Our organization believes that this article may have violated federal tax law with its use of code words such as ‘pro-life’ and with its implied support of President George W. Bush as a candidate for president,” wrote Ellie Collinson, executive director for Citizens Project.

    Focus officials said the article was written under the umbrella of its lobbying arm, Focus on the Family Action. That organization operates under a different set of tax criteria, and its money can be used for lobbying.

    “It makes this particular article free and clear, as per our attorneys,” said Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy for Focus on the Family Action.