November 16, 2012

"Freedom From Religion Foundation sues IRS for not enforcing electioneering restrictions on churches."

"The lawsuit cites 'open and notorious violations' of these electioneering restrictions by churches since 2008, including 'blatantly partisan full-page ads' from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that ran in papers throughout the country leading up to the Nov. 6 election."
In the ad, Graham urges people to vote "for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman."

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says, "Everybody knows what he was talking about: Obama endorsing same-sex marriage."
Full text of complaint at the link.

129 comments:

Strelnikov said...

Are they including the rampant electioneering that goes on in the black churches every election? Or are they only interested in Graham and other churches that might be on the Right?

edutcher said...

(gasp!)

PS To ask the question is to answer it.

Strelnikov said...

I asked it before reading the complaint, just for kicks. It mentions only the Graham example. That's a shocker.

phx said...

I'm going to go on a limb and say they are probably less interested in the compliance of your neighborhood church than with multinational nonprofit organizations with a robust PR department.

The Farmer said...

This is really important stuff. You're doing God's work, Freedom From Religion.

I mean Satan's work.

Er, Darwin's?

You're doing somebody's work, Freedom From Religion!

Renee said...

Democrats and religious always mingle. When Elizabeth Warren was elected many Boston area minority Pastors asked that she hire minorities in her staff.

We have a large Buddhist population, and routinely the host politicians.

phx said...

We have a large Buddhist population, and routinely the host politicians.

Buddhists often do that when they want to amuse themselves.


Renee said...

Proselytizing Atheists

mccullough said...

None of the historic black churches would exist if the IRS enforced these laws. Actually, probably none of the churches would exist.

X said...

who do I sue for not enforcing electioneering restrictions on government employees on the taxpayers time? it's way more rampant.

sparrow said...

These rules are untested but should fail any fair reading of the Constitution as an unambiguous government overreach of multiple first amendment clauses. All that means it's a gamble in the real world.

Saint Croix said...

Every Sunday my church says a prayer for "Barack our President" and "Bev our governor." They do this with Republicans, too. But it's still frickin' annoying. Every Sunday I'm like, "God, don't count me as joining this part of the prayer."

Sometimes I pray that he opens up his heart. And then I pray forgiveness for thinking I'm right all the time. By that time I've lost my place in the prayerbook and I got to catch up.

Bryan C said...

"I'm going to go on a limb and say they are probably less interested in the compliance of your neighborhood church than with multinational nonprofit organizations with a robust PR department."

I hadn't realized that the First Amendment only exempts small neighborhood churches from "compliance".

Renee said...

We just pray for all 'elected officials'.

phx said...

I hadn't realized that the First Amendment only exempts small neighborhood churches from "compliance".

Don't be dense. I don't give a damn if you strip the lot them of their tax exempt status. But the feds are probably working off a triage or priority list, and it's probably not "Get Y-T."

But why don't you send them your list of neighborhood churches that your evidence shows have been electioneering.

Tank said...

My first thought: This will be bad for black churches.

Secont thought: I'm an idiot. The law does not apply to black people. Ha ha. Stupid me. Duh.

Actually, the whole thing is ass-backwards. Religious institutions should be taxed in exactly the same way as private institutions (businesses) are.

The Drill SGT said...

I thought that Non-profits in general (churches, environmental, civil rights groups etc), could take positions on public policy?

I think, because of the 1st amend, that a Church which says

"vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman."

hs more protection than non-profit that says,

"vote for politicans who will protect your lady parts..."

or

"vote to keep the KeyStone pipeline from spoiling our water"

leslyn said...

Strelnikov said...
"Are they including the rampant electioneering that goes on in the black churches every election? Or are they only interested in Graham and other churches that might be on the Right?"

Do you attend these churches?

And how do you feel about the Catholic clergy being required to read a political letter from their pulpits just before the election?

phx said...

Actually I don't really believe churches should be taxed. I went overboard for a minute but I've come to Jesus.

Marshal said...

I'm going to go on a limb and say they are probably less interested in the compliance of your neighborhood church than with multinational nonprofit organizations with a robust PR department.

As this comment demonstrates the far left believes we should leave the decisions about what should be against the law to lawyers and bureaucrats. To make it easy we should criminalize anything which could conceivably be problematic knowing these reliably leftist decision makers won't enforce the law when the circumstances are to the detriment of leftist institutions.

leslyn said...

@The Drill Sgt: It depends on which subsection under 501(c) you are organized. They're pretty specific. You can only organize under one.

IOW, decide who you are and then live up to it if you want to keep tax-exempt status. If you don't want to act as a tax-exempt entity, then pay your taxes.

McTriumph said...

If it wasn't for politics in churches, we wouldn't have had a revolution, a constitution, and got rid of slavery.

Hell, tax all the churches, charities and especially all university endowments.

leslyn said...

Marshal, your comment, while displaying your opinion, has no connection with the comment which introduced it.

edutcher said...

leslyn said...

Are they including the rampant electioneering that goes on in the black churches every election? Or are they only interested in Graham and other churches that might be on the Right?

Do you attend these churches?


When you see news footage of a politician making an election pitch from a church pulpit, it's pretty unmistakable.

not to mention the minister actually telling the news media he's going to do it.

And how do you feel about the Catholic clergy being required to read a political letter from their pulpits just before the election?

The Church is not a democracy. Priests take an oath of obedience.

They can read; I can disagree.

Steve Austin said...

In the past three years the Obama IRS has brought exactly zero charges against churches for electioneering or political activity. There was an AP story on it a month ago.

This is in contrast to regular cases being brought pre Obama. Why no enforcement on this by Obama?

Because Obama knows he needs those black churches for his GOTV operations as we saw last week.

Marshal said...

The Drill SGT said...
or

"vote to keep the KeyStone pipeline from spoiling our water"


This is the key to understanding the matter, that one part of the left is intent on cutting off their nose to spite their face. Issue based NGO electioneering is a core component of the leftist media message, while religion based electioneering is largely superflous to voting. The left has much more to lose, so expect many leftists to come out against this.

Marshal said...

leslyn said...
Marshal, your comment, while displaying your opinion, has no connection with the comment which introduced it.


Only to people who can't think.

YoungHegelian said...

@leslyn,

Do you attend these churches?

Were you just asleep during the election when the Obama campaign was touting its "Souls to the Polls" voter registration and early voting drives? It wasn't like this was hush-hush top secret.

And how do you feel about the Catholic clergy being required to read a political letter from their pulpits just before the election?

Oh, you mean the Church that these priests work for? Because, perish forfend that employees might be asked to do something at the behest of the organization they work for!

And as for you folks who support taxing churches, you might want to notice that NO non-profit pays taxes, including companies like Harvard that have endowments larger the GNP of many small countries. Non-profits in this country are rife with abuse, but the churches are the least of it.

McTriumph said...

Steve Austin said...
In the past three years the Obama IRS has brought exactly zero charges against churches for electioneering or political activity. There was an AP story on it a month ago.

This is in contrast to regular cases being brought pre Obama. Why no enforcement on this by Obama?


You can say the same thing about prosecuting Wall Street crime. hell, Corzine is still walking the streets.

Baron Zemo said...

"phox said..
Don't be dense. I don't give a damn if you strip the lot them of their tax exempt status"

This is of course the next step in the liberals attempt to attack religious institutions. Soon if your church does not follow the dogma as dictated by political correctness they will be in line to lose their tax exempt status. Providing contraception and abortion services in the church's medical plan is just the start. Soon all religious institutions will be forced to perform same sex marriages or lose their exemption.

They will be enjoined from political speech because it is not speech that is approved of by the reigning activist bureaucrats named by the government headed by the current ultra liberal administration. Religious teaching of a conservative bent will be termed hate speech.

Of course as others have noted certain people will be exempt from this prosecution. Black churches. Muslims. Even Scientologists who donate big Hollywood bucks to liberal campaigns. Those are the people that can expect a payoff from the current regime.

This is coming. You are fooling yourself if you think it is not.

phx said...

What he said above is just not true. What a liar. I was at the meeting when this was decided and ALL churches of ALL denominations are going to get the same treatment from us libtards - Muslims, black churches, everyone.

Everyone except Wiccans.

Baron Zemo said...

Just wait to you see what Obama has in store for the Mormons.

It is not going to be pretty.

McTriumph said...

Tax all non-profits, NGOs, endowments and churches. They are 1%ers. Licence journalist, the government licences guns ownership.

We all know the federal government does everything better, besides we need to level the playing field.

Bender said...

Before attacking the propriety of tax "exemptions" for non-profits, will someone please tell me why government should be entitled to a cut of the proceeds in the first place merely because someone gives a portion of his already-taxed income to someone else, be it a non-profit organization or a family member or some bum on the street?

The money received by non-profits has already been taxed at least once, and likely multiple times, before it gets to the organization.

Baron Zemo said...

Phox you are a funny guy but you should listen to your pal leslyn.
She knows the drill. You are supposed to attack the Catholic Church and try to stop them from preaching their religion. It is icky don't you know. No abortions or birth control or gay stuff. Icky.

Get with the program boyo.

Charles said...

In the history of the country, the number of churches that have lost their tax-exempt status because of electioneering, lobbying or political activity so far totals up to...

zero.

Bender said...

Why do so many people simply presume that the government is entitled to any money at all?

phx said...

Phox you are a funny guy

I'm a funny guy because you knuckleheads with your conspiracies and tin-foil paranoia make it easy. Sheeeeiiiit...shooting fish.

phx said...

Place is like a Mumbai kitchen at 3:00 am.

Unknown said...

I suspect that many local municipalities would love to get their hand on the property taxes 501c3s dont pay.

McTriumph said...

Bender
That's the same argument concerning taxation of capital gains and dividends, they've already been taxed at the corporate level, then they are taxed again. Theoretically the owners of the c-corp are taxed twice.

Baron Zemo said...

Charles we are in the era of firsts.

First black president.

First same sex marriages.

First time a president with under 50% approval rating won the election.

First time that releigious institutions were forced to provide contraception and abortion services directly in oppostion to their religious practices.

It is very possible that a religious institution will lose it's tax exempt status because they have the wrong views.

If you don't think that can happen you are kidding yourself.

Baron Zemo said...

Who are you going to count on to protect religious liberty?

Barrack Hussien Obama.

Joe "I'm a good Catholic" Biden.

Phox who jumped at removing the tax exemption.....dare I say it....like a fish jumping at a fly.

RecChief said...

What Strelnikov said

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YoungHegelian said...

@phx,

I'm a funny guy because you knuckleheads with your conspiracies and tin-foil paranoia make it easy.

Sure, because freedom of conscience is NEVER something that governments EVER impinge upon. Like, ever.

Because, preachers in Britain never get arrested for preaching against homosexuality.

Because Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts will never get forced to serve gay couples against their beliefs

Naw, stuff like that will never happen!

leslyn said...

It could be argued that tax-exempt status for churches is a violation of the Establishment Clause (especially when some belief systems are tax-exempt and others are not).

In fact, it's so obvious that I'm sure it must have been argued. Perhaps Althouse can direct us to the case(s).

McTriumph said...

Oh! and tax union collections also. Tax everybody, we have a brave new world to fund. Today Obama phones, tomorrow Obama flat screens and cable! Someday Obama cars (we might have already done that)! Forward! we march in to the new beginning, cleanse your souls.

EMD said...

Everyone except Wiccans.


Was that you who voted for Starling Trudence?

leslyn said...

Young Hegelian said,

"Because, preachers in Britain never get arrested for preaching against homosexuality."

Isn't this thread about non-criminal, tax-exempt church status in the United States?

Baron Zemo said...

The Chicago way is to pay off your friends and pay back your enemies.

I would expect the Catholic Church and the Mormon temple to get a lot of attention from the government over the next four years.

The mosque of the blind sheik who helped blow up the World Trade Center. Not so much.

"The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

phx said...

I am Starling Trudence.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

phx said...
Place is like a Mumbai kitchen at 3:00 am.

Racist!

phx said...

All leftists are Startling Trudence.

That was from the meeting, too.

Synova said...

I'm with Bender.

"Pay taxes like everyone else" misses the entire profound wrongness involved in the government getting to tax any sort of gift given to anyone at all. Taxes were already paid on that money when it was earned. There is no reason at all that the government should get their slice off the top every single time money changes hands as a gift if you've given it to your church or your kids or some charity or anyone else that you *give* money to. Or if you DIE.

It's your money and the government already got it's share.

leslyn said...

McTriumph said...
"Oh! and tax union collections also."

And tax PACs.

phx said...

Racist!

I can say that shit. You can't.

Neeners neeners.

Roger J. said...

LeslynT: Waltz v Tax commission, 1970--Scotus ruled that tax exemption for religious organizations does not violate the est clause

Renee said...

Baron, People don't care. People don't care about marriage in general, and have a low value of it. People DO CARE about birth control, we're pretty obsessed about planned pregnancies. People don't care about politics. I know several people who voted for Obama, despite not liking him and disagreeing on Healthcare Reform and knowing he won't do much.

Again Republicans are just 'icky' is the general response.

People aren't very spiritual, despite claiming to be. They don't care about protecting the freedom to worship.

Tank said...

McTriumph said...

Steve Austin said...
In the past three years the Obama IRS has brought exactly zero charges against churches for electioneering or political activity. There was an AP story on it a month ago.

This is in contrast to regular cases being brought pre Obama. Why no enforcement on this by Obama?


You can say the same thing about prosecuting Wall Street crime. hell, Corzine is still walking the streets.


Have to keep Corzine free so that he can fund raise for Mr. Wonderful, and, next year, serve as Secretary of the Treasury.

Matthew Sablan said...

I wonder when the government decides to tax itself for whenever it sends out a check, whether to pay for services or as part of the safety net. Actually, they probably already do that.

YoungHegelian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
phx said...

Because Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts will never get forced to serve gay couples against their beliefs

Boston Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusettes are never forced to do anything. They always have the same choice you and I have when it comes to complying with federal and state regulations for which no bribe will be accepted: take it or leave it.

YoungHegelian said...

@leslyn,

Isn't this thread about non-criminal, tax-exempt church status in the United States?

And, of course, that topic has nothing to do with the broader topic of freedom of conscience.

Who appointed you thread-dictator for the day? The Good Professor?

Baron Zemo said...

The Professor does not get to pick the nanny.

The kids do.

Didn't you watch the show?

Renee said...

"Because Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts will never get forced to serve gay couples against their beliefs"

As a Catholic in Massachusetts, local parishes should be encouraging families to adopt rather spending money on salaried social workers. We already have a state agency that handles children, who are legally open for adoption.

McTriumph said...

$45,000 is the lower middle class threshold. Making more than that is a sin against the state, anyone making less, me and god. Making more than that and you are a 1%er to all making less.

Tank said...

Synova said...
I'm with Bender.

"Pay taxes like everyone else" misses the entire profound wrongness involved in the government getting to tax any sort of gift given to anyone at all. Taxes were already paid on that money when it was earned. There is no reason at all that the government should get their slice off the top every single time money changes hands as a gift if you've given it to your church or your kids or some charity or anyone else that you *give* money to. Or if you DIE.

It's your money and the government already got it's share

Religious institutions own vast swaths of real estate in virtually every municipality in the nation. They, and their congregants, utilize all of the same gov't services that non-religious institutions do. They should pay property taxes, just like the rest of us dopey dopes. Nothing more exciting than having a church or synagogue buy a large commercial property and erase 5 or 10 or 15% of a municipality's tax base in one shot.

YoungHegelian said...

@phx,

Do you agree with the Supreme Court decision that allows certain Indian tribes to use peyote during their religious observances in violation of Federal & State drug laws?

Yes or No.

leslyn said...

Thanks, Roger J, for the cite!

Tank said...

Everyone (adults) should be allowed to use peyote. Get real.

Bourbon too.

McTriumph said...

leslyn said...
McTriumph said...
"Oh! and tax union collections also."

And tax PACs.

Hell yes!, everyone, everything, every transaction, all cash changing hands and kids' allowances, what best way to teach them about our "new beginning". FORWARD!

Renee said...

Tank, In the land of NIMBY, a Church is better then public/affordable housing.

Synova said...

Tank, property taxes make sense, at least a little bit but I'm not sure we should have property taxes either, not really.

Pay for your water and utilities and services, sure, but what property taxes do is create a situation where you never actually own your property, you simply lease it from the government and if you don't have enough income they take it away from you. This has been used to outright steal property from people because someone decides that it is suddenly valuable and hike up the taxes past what the owners can support. If the taxes aren't paid the land can be confiscated and sold. It's completely immoral.

Plan to own your home without a mortgage so that you can manage your expenses in retirement? I wouldn't be surprised if DBQ tells us that's a really bad idea. But it *shouldn't* be a bad idea. It should be a good idea.

Sales tax... tax the value when it's sold. Income tax... tax the actual income made with/on a property.

McTriumph said...

Tank said...
Everyone (adults) should be allowed to use peyote.

Yes! If taxes are collected, otherwise it would be a sin against the STATE and god. FORWARD!

YoungHegelian said...

@Renee

What a Christian community should be doing has absolutely nothing to do with what the government is compelling it to do.

The issue here is government coercion.

phx said...

Do you agree with the Supreme Court decision that allows certain Indian tribes to use peyote during their religious observances in violation of Federal & State drug laws?

Yes or No.


As you have so intimidated me with your well-honed prosecutorial skills ("Yes or No!") I'm gonna break down on the stand and say "Yes, yes, yes, it's true! I do support the legal use of peyote by some Native American churches.

Witchy tai to oh raow niko hey hey now wah. Such a spirit feeling round my head. Make me kinda glad that I'm not dead.

Carol said...

And how do you feel about the Catholic clergy being required to read a political letter from their pulpits just before the election?

Sheesh, talk about a Nothing burger - vote for life! don't vote from greed! could be taken any number of ways by the parishoner. They never mention names or initiatives on the ballot.

Bryan C said...

"Don't be dense. I don't give a damn if you strip the lot them of their tax exempt status. But the feds are probably working off a triage or priority list, and it's probably not "Get Y-T.""

I was unclear, phx. My view is the opposite of the one you suggest. I don't think the feds can legitimately "strip" any church of its non-taxable status. Not for electioneering or for any other kind of speech they may find disagreeable. The size, denomination, color, or shape of the church doesn't matter. Short of a constitutional amendment it's simply not within the scope of our government's powers.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

I look forward to the removal of IRS tax exemption from every Black church in America.

Go, FFRF, go!!

Tank said...

Renee

Point taken (re: affordable housing).

Synova

Actually, I'm for abolishing all property taxes. But, in the age of Mr. Wonderful, EVERYONE should suffer. Why should we old pasty white retards be alone. Misery loves company. And bourbon.

Renee said...

@Young

If the agency was handling adoptions of married heterosexual couples that were non-Catholic, then they would have to serve gay couples as well.

-----

Catholic Charities/Adoptions came in a time before government legislation was present to protect children.

Rustling Leaves said...

Then to be fair tax all non-profits, especially universites. A tax on universities could be used to help pay off unsustainable student loan debt. I am not saying this out of self-interest, I cashed in my retirement to pay off my student loans. My family should not be on the hook to pay off student loans for other people, however I would not mind seeing Harvard's endowment taxed to hell for the common good.

Bender said...

you never actually own your property, you simply lease it from the government

Exactly. My parents cannot afford to live in the house that they paid off years ago.

Private ownership of property in this country is a myth. Moreover, property taxes have the perverse consequence of making it so that only the wealthy can hold real property -- those with modest income or liquid savings cannot "own" property because they cannot pay the taxes on it. A great pro-rich policy the leftist government has imposed there.

YoungHegelian said...

@phx,

If you agree that religious liberty covers the case were Indians can used substances considered felonies under federal law, and can agree that in such an extreme case the law of the land bows before religious liberty, how can one make the case that Massachusetts can have a compelling argument re forcing Catholic Charities to abide by state law or suffer defunding?

The Church's stand against homosexuality is of long standing. It has been recognized as a legitimate charity by the state for hundreds of years. The group discriminated against is 2% of the population, who can go to a secular adoption agency without hindrance.

What possible compelling interest could Massachusetts have to defund a charitable organization except political grandstanding?

McTriumph said...

I think the IRS should confiscate all university endowments and distribute the funds to all universities and colleges equally according to need.

Rick67 said...

What Strelnikov said. I am sick to death of all the concern about the "Religious Right" and no one talks about the "Religious Left".

You know how much I talk about politics - in the sense of advocating a specific candidate - in my sermons?

Never.

Rustling Leaves said...

While they are at it, the government could confiscate every tenth winter coat that is donated to poor people by a church community. That'll show those church goers. How about for every 3 cans of soup a homeless person recieves, the government gets to keep one. Or, just for taxation sake, let's assign a dollar value to donated blood, then tax 10% of it. What? It would be for the greater good. The government CARES.

Bryan C said...

"It could be argued that tax-exempt status for churches is a violation of the Establishment Clause (especially when some belief systems are tax-exempt and others are not)."

Only in Opposite Land, leslyn. Churches are not granted tax-exempt status like non-profits. They're non-taxable because they were never within the government's scope in the first place. That's the entire point, to prevent the State from establishing specific religious institutions with preferred status, or favoring specific beliefs by policy.

If these other unspecified belief systems want to become churches then I have no problem with that. It's their right to do so. The more the merrier.

Bender said...

It has been recognized as a legitimate charity by the state for hundreds of years.

Let's be clear -- the Catholic Church has been in the charity business for 2000 years, long before government came along and usurped that function from the churches. Indeed, giving food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, clothing to the naked is a fundamental obligation of the Church, it is implicit in her very being, which is quite plainly seen in the very word "charity," which is derived from the Latin "caritas," meaning "love," as in love God and love one another.

Revenant said...

If it wasn't for politics in churches, we wouldn't have had a revolution, a constitution, and got rid of slavery.

The opposing sides on the above issues had church backing too, don't forget. For every northern abolitionist church you had a southern one preaching that slavery was divinely sanctioned.

Churches are free to say whatever they want, just like the rest of us. This is about whether or not they get to keep the special privilege of tax exemption. You can be anti-abortion or anti-capitalism and get tax breaks; you cannot be anti-Democrat or anti-Republican. Ultimately, the religious need to decide if their special tax breaks are more, or less, important to them than supporting the "holier" of the two parties.

That aside, from the complaint it doesn't seem like there were any examples of churches explicitly endorsing one candidate over another or one party over another. Seems like a frivolous lawsuit.

Bender said...

To put Christians out of the charity business, to burden Christians for proclaiming the Christian faith, is to tell them to stop being Christian.

Renee said...

Young,

We do not discriminate against gays. We disagree on the purpose and function of marriage.

Oral/anal/masturbation is all against nature, gay or straight.

jrberg3 said...

Funny, but the advertisement in question doesn't name a particular candidate now does it. Nor did the letter read by priests at the Catholic Church.

The nerve of these institutions to ask that its members and the public at large vote for whatever candidate adheres to their religious beliefs!!! Unbelievable!

McTriumph said...

You guys are discussing a dead document, this id the 21st century. The founders never had the privilege of reading Marx, therefore they are just like Tea party nuts. Intellectually inferior rich white guys, racist and sexist. Come to the light, FORWARD!

AlanKH said...

I don't remember the ACLU ever weighing in on the famous Buddhist temple fundraiser.

Rustling Leaves said...

On the other hand, my local Catholic Church LOVES teachers unions. Perhaps if the church had to pay property taxes they would have some skin in the game (same goes for universities) and understand the significant burden such taxes can place on ordinary people. What's that you say, the university is going through tough times; layoffs, loss of endowment; welcome to the reality of most Americans. We face the threat of losing our shelter in tough times so that we can pay a retired teacher twice the salary of the average homeowner.

McTriumph said...

Maybe Kathleen is still pissed about being denied communion in Kansas.

Revenant said...

They're non-taxable because they were never within the government's scope in the first place. That's the entire point, to prevent the State from establishing specific religious institutions with preferred status, or favoring specific beliefs by policy.

The first sentence directly contradicts the second.

If you have two advocacy organizations, one religious and one not, and you give the former tax exemption and not the latter -- you ARE "favoring specific beliefs by policy" and you ARE "establishing specific religious institutions".

The government should completely ignore whether someone is doing something for religious reasons or not. If it is legal for people who think "God wants X" to do X, it should be legal for people who think "X is the right thing to do" to do X. That is true freedom of conscience.

Rustling Leaves said...

If freedom from religion organizatios are acceptable, can I start a freedom from leftism organization? I am quite confident that a simple brainscan study could show that leftism is a religion. I think similar studies would also show that militant atheism (in contrast to agnosticism or just plain old non invasive atheism) is a religion. It does require an incontrovertible BELIEF that god does not exist and they feel the need to shove their views down everyone's throat.

Carlo said...

tag missing:Standing

Bender said...

tag missing:Standing

Yes, my first thought, without reading the complaint itself, was DeShaney v. Winnebago County.

Greg Hlatky said...

What would terrify the Freedom from Religion types would be for churches to surrender voluntarily their tax-exempt status, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and free themselves from government's constraints. You want separation of church and state? You got it!

Rustling Leaves said...

My grandparents had to sell their house that they had worked hard for all of their lives when they were okd and sick and could no longer afford the taxes. So I would not cry if taxation shut down the union loving churches or universities. They didn't CARE about my grandparents. Let's put them to the test. If Catholics and universities think union loving is for the common good and all about CARING, then let's GIVE them the gift of skin in the game.

Smilin' Jack said...

"Everybody knows what he was talking about: Obama endorsing same-sex marriage."

But in all fairness, we should remember that Obama was against it before he found it convenient to be for it.

gerry said...

And how do you feel about the Catholic clergy being required to read a political letter from their pulpits just before the election?

The letter mentioned only the issue of freedom of religion. It endorsed no candidate or party. It also didn't use any words like "G-DDAMN AMERICA" from the pulpit, either.

If you'll shut your silly progressive yap about all your outrages, I am sure the Catholics will be happy to be silent about what bugs them, too.

And then the public square will be peaceful.

I hope the IRS goes after the Catholic churches. That will show what this administration is really about: silencing the opposition.

gerry said...
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gerry said...
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gerry said...
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gerry said...
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gerry said...

The first sentence directly contradicts the second.

No, it is not.

If you have two advocacy organizations, one religious and one not, and you give the former tax exemption and not the latter -- you ARE "favoring specific beliefs by policy" and you ARE "establishing specific religious institutions".

Freedom from Religion is nonProfit and tax-exempt.

So, what is your point?

I Callahan said...

It could be argued that tax-exempt status for churches is a violation of the Establishment Clause (especially when some belief systems are tax-exempt and others are not).

Only if you believe the money belongs to the government first, and in the gov't's infinite wisdom they just allow the church to keep it.

If you believe that the government doesn't own ANY money, then your argument isn't even in the same solar system.

Peter said...

phox said, "Don't be dense. I don't give a damn if you strip the lot them of their tax exempt status"

Well, I do. One of the characteristics of a free society is that it has a robust civil society. Totalitarian countries invariably have co-opted civil organizations to serve the state (e.g., Boy/Girl Scouts become Young Communists, or Hitler Youth, or some other state-sponsored organization).

No matter how annoying some religious people are, permitting moral, financial, even political power to exist outside the state is to be welcomed.

“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State” is not a motto for a free people.

Alex said...

If we started arresting people for hate speech, the hate speech would stop.

YoungHegelian said...

@Alex,

If we started arresting people for hate speech, the hate speech would stop.

So would the free kind.

But I think you're just trolling & already know that.

Alex said...

You can't justify hate speech, we should eradicate it. Just like in England.

DEEBEE said...

Did,nt realize that FFRF was s anti-black -- churches that is.

Unknown said...

And they have a specific injury that would allow this claim into a federal court how?

@Alex definition of "hate speech" is anything he does not like. There is a definition of "fighting words". If it does not rise to that level 'bug off"!

Joe said...

Tax exemptions are a large corner of mischief. So are tax deductions for contributions to such. Even if you argue that religions are defacto exempt, why should donations to such be a deduction?

YoungHegelian said...

@Joe,

Even if you argue that religions are defacto exempt, why should donations to such be a deduction?

You mean as opposed to the stuff that upper class white people think are worthy, like art museums, the symphony, & the opera?

Not to mention donations to already rich-as-shit universities & colleges, so the patron can see his name carved in stone on the side of a building.

Revenant said...

What would terrify the Freedom from Religion types would be for churches to surrender voluntarily their tax-exempt status, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and free themselves from government's constraints. You want separation of church and state? You got it!

If by submitting to taxation, churches could more easily achieve the goals left-wingers fear... why have they not done so?

Are we to believe the churches faced a choice between, say, "abortion bans" and "tax breaks", and picked "tax breaks"?

Revenant said...

Freedom from Religion is nonProfit and tax-exempt.

Which would be an interesting point if the FFRF was simply a secular version of the Catholic Church. Oddly enough, it isn't.

So, what is your point?

Too subtle of one, apparently.

Revenant said...

“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State” is not a motto for a free people.

Neither is "you can be outside the state, but only if you submit to rule by a different organization".

Making a church immune to tax collection doesn't do a damned thing to make any *person* in America more free. It just allows that particular organization to accrue more money and power while the rest of us continue to be sapped of both.

And, generally speaking, the churches turn right around and lobby for bigger, more intrusive government. I had to smile when the Catholic Church -- which has supported big, intrusive government since the days of Constantine -- had the gall to complain about regulations in ObamaCare. Where were they when the *rest* of us were having government regulations inflicted on us? Oh, that's right: lobbying in favor of the regulations. Bah.

Saint Croix said...

Religious institutions should be taxed in exactly the same way as private institutions (businesses) are.

A church is a non-profit.

But aside from being a non-profit, religion is specifically protected in our Constitution. Government cannot attack it or burden it. This is a substantive right that religious people have that other citizens do not have. Religion is singled out in our Constitution. Our highest law identifies religion as important, and worthy of protection from government oversight. And while our modern society is far more secular than we were 200 years ago, that does not actually mean that our Constitution has been amended.

Saint Croix said...

And the idea that our free exercise clause and establishment clause cancel each other out is ridiculous. If religion "must be treated like everything else," why is it specifically protected as a right in our Constitution?

If religion is just mere human speech, why mention it at all?

And if churches are bad or dangerous, how come our Constitution does not regulate the church?

No, it regulates government. It regulates Congress. It regulates the state.

Our Constitution does not say, "No Church shall do this" or "No Church shall do that." People who want to start taxing churches, or regulate what churches say, are arguing for an increase in federal power. And where in the Constitution is your support for that?!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Several points:

Lots of groups are both tax-exempt, and are eligible for tax deductible donations. It's not just religious bodies. Charities, educational institutions, foundations, think tanks, and advocacy organizations.

Now, I had an idea I discussed with an attorney the other night. If ever the govt actually came after the churches' tax-exemption and/eligibility for tax deductible gifts, here's what we could do:

The schools and charities we operate continue to be chartered as 501(c) 3 organizations, which the church as a whole is now. They continue to be both tax exempt and tax deductible. Most of the property will be owned by this same entity.

The bishop and clergy, and perhaps some other "management," are employed by a new, non-tax-exempt/non-tax-deductible affiliated organization. Their services will be hired by the charitable entity, just as such entities hire other services.

The two organizations can even share the same leadership, as long as the books are carefully kept.

The taxable entity would be required to pay corporate taxes--that is, if it shows a profit. And there's the rub!

If it were up to me, I'd plan for enough profit to have an annual tax bill of one, thin dime, which I'd recommend the bishop deliver personally to the IRS.

Fr Martin Fox said...

And to clarify, speaking at least of the Catholic Church, we pay taxes, although not all of them.

I pay all the very same taxes as anyone else.

We pay employer taxes for all our employees, including social security, Medicare, etc.

We pay some property taxes, but not all. We are theoretically exempt from sales taxes, but in practice we pay a lot of them--because you have to show the retailer a tax document, and that's impractical a lot of the time.

Fr Martin Fox said...

While I'm not saying such an attack on churches' tax status wouldn't be a pain, I think current law allows for ways to work around it. It would be a costly headache to pull off, but once done, churches would be able to operate largely as they do now.

With one exception: once the trigger is pulled on the, "tax the churches!" Threat, then there's no constraint on what we say.

Joe said...

Again, 501(c)3 organizations are largely completely corrupt. They are used to enrich a minority at the expense of taxpayers while baying about all the charity they do.

Get rid of all tax exempt organizations and all tax deductions.