There's actually a common-sense, well-established answer as to why these questions are being asked. Sherman, let's set the Wayback Machine to 1975, and take a look at IRS Revenue Ruling 75-384, in which the organization seeking tax-exempt status was described as follows:
Advice has been requested whether a nonprofit organization formed to promote world peace and disarmament by nonviolent direct action including acts of civil disobedience qualifies for exemption from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954....So, can you obtain tax-exempt status under such facts? Hells no, rules the IRS. Not as a 501(c)(3):
Protest demonstrations are conducted at military establishments, Federal agencies, and industrial companies involved with military and defense operations. ...The protest demonstrations constitute the primary activity of the organization. They are designed to draw public attention to the views of the organization and to exert pressure on governmental authorities. To derive the maximum publicity of an event, demonstrators are urged to commit acts of civil disobedience. Participants deliberately block vehicular or pedestrian traffic, disrupt the work of government, and prevent the movement of supplies. These activities are violations of local ordinances and breaches of public order. Incidental to demonstrations, leaflets are dispersed presenting the views of the organization.
In this case the organization induces or encourages the commission of criminal acts by planning and sponsoring such events. The intentional nature of this encouragement precludes the possibility that the organization might unfairly fail to qualify for exemption due to an isolated or inadvertent violation of a regulatory statute. Its activities demonstrate an illegal purpose which is inconsistent with charitable ends. Moreover, the generation of criminal acts increases the burdens of government, thus frustrating a well recognized charitable goal, i.e., relief of the burdens of government.And not as a 501(c)(4) either:
Section 1.501(c)(4)-1(a)(2)(i) of the regulations provides that an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community. An organization embraced within this section is one which is operated primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterments and social improvements.Got it? Protest groups were asked these questions to ensure their protests were legal. That's all this is.
Illegal activities, which violate the minimum standards of acceptable conduct necessary to the preservation of an orderly society, are contrary to the common good and the general welfare of the people in a community and thus are not permissible means
of promoting the social welfare for purposes of section 501(c)(4) of the Code. Accordingly, the organization in this case is not operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare and does not qualify for exemption from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(4).
(N.B. Other IRS activities in singling out conservative groups by name were plainly more problematic than this.)