FFRF takes Catholic League to task over false accusation

Bill Donohue November 5 2019

The Freedom From Religion Foundation was forced to write a cease and desist letter to the Catholic League today for publishing an injurious falsehood about FFRF’s legal standing.

The league’s President Bill Donohue falsely reported in an article, “Atheists who are haters,” published online on Nov. 5 and sent to the group’s mailing list: “In 2018, the IRS revoked FFRF”s tax exemption for failing to file its Form 990 for three consecutive years. FFRF then sued the IRS, claiming its tax-exempt status was unfairly revoked.”

When FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel phoned the league this morning to correct this falsehood and demand a retraction, he was not given any assurances the libel would be removed.

Not only is FFRF in good standing — and has never had its tax exemption revoked by the IRS — but it has also achieved a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for ten years in a row and a perfect rating this year.

In a formal follow-up letter emailed to the league, Seidel pointed out: “This lie is particularly egregious given that FFRF is one of the country’s elite charities. There are more than 1.4 million nonprofits in the U.S. and only 77 have a perfect 100 score from Charity Navigator, including FFRF.”

Charity Navigator President and CEO Michael Thatcher recently informed FFRF in a letterin a letter, “Only 2 percent of the charities we evaluate have received at least 10 consecutive four-star evaluations, indicating that Freedom From Religion Foundation outperforms most other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Freedom From Religion Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

Ironically, while FFRF has reached the highest levels of accountability and transparency, the same cannot be said of the Catholic League, which has only achieved two stars in its Charity Navigator rating.

FFRF gave the Catholic League until 3 p.m. Eastern to remove the false information and publish a retraction on its website and dispatch it to all individuals who had been sent the defamatory and injurious information about FFRF. Although the direct false assertion was removed, there has been no formal retraction or apology placed on the article, and FFRF is awaiting word as to what steps the league is taking to notify subscribers of its defamatory error about FFRF.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the country’s largest freethought organization, with more than 30,000 nonreligious members and several chapters all across the country.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

FFRF privacy statement