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Funding Foreign Activities

Seven legal areas that trip up churches—and how to navigate them.

Last Reviewed: January 13, 2020
Funding Foreign Activities

The concept sounds well-meaning and innocent enough: Form a charity in the United States that finds sponsors to support poor children living abroad. It's not a unique idea, since many charitable groups, including churches, advocate this type of work to improve living conditions and educational opportunities for the most vulnerable in the world.

But with a nonreligious Oregon charity formed in 1994 to match donors with needy Iranian children, something went wrong. The founder said the work legitimately helped kids, but the US government said the nonprofit sent $11 million to Iran and tried to hide it, with at least a portion of those funds funneled to a suspected terrorist. Both the charity and its founder faced prosecution.

The founder insisted his organization never aided a terrorist. During a March 2012 sentencing hearing, a US District Court judge said it wasn't clear whether or ...

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Posted:
  • February 26, 2014
  • Last Reviewed: January 13, 2020

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