Editor’s Note: This legal challenge was subsequently dismissed in 2014 after the court determined the plaintiff, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), lacked standing (meaning the type of injury constitutionally required in order for FFRF to bring a lawsuit was too remote or speculative). In October 2018, FFRF initiated a new legal challenge through a not-for-profit entity it formed in 2015 called NonBelief Relief Inc. In January of 2020, though, a federal district judge dismissed the lawsuit on technical grounds, but FFRF indicated plans to pursue a new challenge based on the judge’s opinion.
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The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sued the IRS in a federal district court in Wisconsin, claiming that 501(c)(3) tax code provisions make it easier for churches to obtain and maintain tax-exempt status than other nonprofit organizations. This, they claim, violates the First Amendment's prohibition of an "establishment of religion" and the Fifth Amendment's guaranty of the equal protection of the laws. Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Werfel, 2013 WL 4501057 (W.D. Wis. 2013).