An IRS campaign to apply additional scrutiny to conservative groups went beyond targeting “Tea Party” and “patriot” groups to include those focused on government spending, the Constitution, and several other broad areas, Fox News reports. The additional guidelines created by the agency were part of a timeline, obtained by Fox News, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which is looking into the controversial IRS practice. IRS officials apologized Friday for the scrutiny, which Tea Party leaders refused to accept, and new information suggests senior leaders were apprised of the effort as early as 2011 despite public denials from the top. Republican lawmakers have vowed to investigate and hold hearings, calling the revelations deeply troubling. “The conclusion that the IRS came to is that they did have agents who were engaged in intimidation of political groups,” Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers told Fox News Sunday. “I don’t care if you’re a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this should send a chill up your spine. It needs to have a full investigation.” Fox News also reports that a leading Tea Party organization says it will consider demanding the IRS repay the group for expenses associated with answering the agency’s “intrusive” questions, in the latest fallout from what the IRS now admits was an inappropriate campaign to scrutinize conservative groups. Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, said her group and its affiliates were among those hassled by the IRS as they applied for tax-exempt status. She said, among the questions asked by the IRS, were requests to see “every single post on Facebook” and “every comment that any person who’s a fan of ours on Facebook had ever made.” Fox News reports that Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) plans to introduce a bill that would make it a crime—punishable by jail time—for an IRS agent to target groups based on their political beliefs, aiming to prevent similar happenings.
- Congressional Republicans on Sunday pressed their investigation into the Benghazi attacks, suggesting depositions for high-ranking officials and more whistle-blowers testifying amid further questions about why then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not thoroughly interviewed about the issue. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Fox News Sunday that more potential and self-proclaimed whistle-blowers might come forward after three of them—career State Department foreign service employees—testified last week before the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. “We have had people come forward because of the (hearing) and say we would also like to talk,” the Michigan Republican told Fox News Sunday. “I do think we’re going to see more whistle-blowers. Certainly my committee has been contacted; I think other committees as well.”
- A massive survey conducted by the Boy Scouts of America reveals that a majority of its members want to retain the current policy barring gays from joining or leading the organization, newsmax.com reports. Current policy states, “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.” On April 19, the BSA announced a proposal to no longer deny membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation, while maintaining its ban on openly gay adult leaders. A resolution states what would be the new policy: “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” Representatives of all local BSA councils will vote on the proposal on May 23. The survey shows that of the 200,000 adult members who responded, 61 percent favor keeping the current policy, while 34 percent oppose it and would like to see the policy changed.
- Dannah Gresh, best-selling author and advocate for the sexual purity movement, was a featured speaker at a yearly event at Pennsylvania State University, and spoke about sexual myths that are hurting teenagers and college students who are navigating a culture that promotes tolerance of all sexual behaviors and choices, except abstinence, The Christian Post reports after an interview. In her talk, titled “The Walk of Fame vs The Walk of Shame,” Gresh said she was inspired to broach the subject of why sexual purity is the healthiest physical, emotional, and spiritual choice, after she received a poignant question from a Penn State student caught up in the sex and party scene who asked her, “Why is there tolerance for everything but abstinence and sobriety here?” “Some of the messages we’re hearing about sex are myths that promote the lie that those who are waiting to have sex until the time is right are going to end up having bad sex,” Gresh said. “Virginity is medically, emotionally and spiritually the best choice, but physically it’s also the best choice.” Gresh cited a recent poll of college students that reveals 19 percent claim to be virgins. But she also noted that among those who are having sex, upon graduation, boys will have had more than nine sex partners and girls will have had seven or more sex partners. “The virginity movement is increasing, but it’s still a good minority,” said Gresh, who emphasized in her interview with CP that the new trend among students, starting in middle school and junior high, is the promotion of sexual activity and experimentation among their peers, and a lack of tolerance for virginity. Caving into sexual pressure can have harmful and long-lasting effects, according to Gresh, who said that “10 percent of the total sexually active population is teenagers younger than 18, who bear the consequences of 25 percent of our sexually transmitted diseases. If a girl gets chlamydia, she can face a lifetime of infertility.” Also, the author noted that the risk of suicide is 12 to 24 percent higher among teenagers who are sexually active. In Gresh’s most recent book, Get Lost: Your Guide to Finding True Love, she endeavors to help young girls understand where the craving for a relationship with a young man comes from, and to encourage girls to seek the love of God; “to step back from guys and just be in love with God.” Gresh also offers an apology to the abstinence movement because “we sometimes suggest that your prince charming will come if you do all of the right things. The point is not finding a guy; it’s to get lost in God’s love. And the point of living a life of purity is not to find a guy, it is to obey God. These are very solid truths outlined in Scripture.” One reason why she set out on the path to promote sexual purity is due to the depression she felt at age 15, when she decided to have sex with a boy her same age, whom she said would be a stranger to her now. Although she didn’t bear any physical consequences, such as getting pregnant or contracting an STD, she felt depressed and hid her sadness, and she didn’t want her daughters to experience the same pain. As part of her talk, Gresh used social science and research from Penn State, Syracuse, the University of California, and University of Chicago to show the physiological impact sexual promiscuity has on students. She stressed, “If you’re having sex outside of a committed relationship, your heart is going to be hurt, especially if you’re a female.” She also described students who are choosing to abstain from sex until marriage as being brave; and said she wants to see the country embrace the “same tolerance and acceptance for virginity and abstinence as other sexual choices in our culture.” In other news, the youth of an organization known as Reach America have created a video titled The Thaw, saying it is their call to youth and their parents across America to join them as they bring Christ and our Judeo-Christian values back to our country. The group says that “Christian youth are living in an increasingly anti-Christian culture. This isn’t the America that we, as parents and grandparents, once knew.”
- A bill that would allow boys who say they identify as girls to use the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, passed the California Assembly Thursday and now heads to the state Senate, reports Baptist Press.
- After meeting with senior Jewish leaders in Britain on Thursday, the Church of Scotland has agreed to change the wording of a controversial paper that .denies Jews any special claim to the land of Israel, The Guardian reported. The paper, titled “The Inheritance of Abraham,” rejects “claims that Scripture offers any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory.” The paper further states that “reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza are ended.” According to The Guardian, the church has agreed to change the reports introduction to reflect that it has never doubted Israel’s right to exist.
- In one of the deadliest attacks in Turkey in recent years, two car bombs exploded near the border with Syria on Saturday, killing 43 and wounding 140 others, Worthy News and AP report. Turkish officials blamed the attack on a group linked to Syria, and a deputy prime minister called the neighboring country’s intelligence service and military “the usual suspects.” The blasts, which were 15 minutes apart and hit the town of Reyhanli’s busiest street, raised fears that Turkey could increasingly be drawn into Syria’s brutal civil war.