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Should Tax Exemptions For Churches Be Abolished?

ProudProgressive 2012/11/18 15:01:08
Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
No churches should be tax exempt
Undecided
None of the above
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Simple question. Incredibly difficult to answer. I would like to hear everyone's RATIONAL opinions as to whether or not Churches should retain their tax exemptions given that in recent years they have operated more like Right Wing SuperPacs than houses of religion. Wouldn't another 71 BILLION DOLLARS in annual revenue help the nation deal with our economy?

Article excerpt follows:

After Campaigning from the Pulpit, Right Wing Churches Must Lose their Tax Exempt Status
By: Rmuse
November 18th, 2012

The simple phrase "All men are created equal" has been called an immortal declaration, and perhaps the single phrase of the United States Revolutionary period with the most grand continuing importance even though after 236 years there is still inequality in America. It is ironic that Thomas Jefferson wrote those prescient words because if he were alive today he may be astounded that despite his "wall of separation" between government and religion in the Constitution, this country still gives preferential treatment to religious organizations to the detriment of the country's economic well-being and at the expense of taxpayers. It is time to stop forcing taxpayers to fund religion with the ridiculous tax-exempt status to bring a semblance of truth this country's "immortal declaration" asserted over two centuries ago.

Religious organizations are given consent to declare themselves non-profit charitable organizations by simply signing and filing 501 (c)(3) papers with the Internal Revenue Service. They, unlike other non-profits, are exempt from keeping accounting records, and the only requirement to be exempt from paying taxes is that they refrain from endorsing, preaching against, or supporting any candidate from the pulpit. However, religious groups around the country break their agreement with the IRS with impunity, and it has prompted a group in Wisconsin to say enough.

The group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the IRS for failing to audit thousands of churches that violated federal tax law by engaging in partisan advocacy. The lawsuit alleges, "The Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of the Defendant Shulman, has followed and continues to follow a policy of non-enforcement of the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3) against churches and other religious organizations. As a result, in recent years, churches and religious organizations have been blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions of §501(c)(3), including during the presidential election year of 2012." Back in October, in a flagrant violation of 501(c)(3) rules, over 1,600 preachers engaged in Pulpit Freedom Sunday and actively campaigned from the pulpit to challenge the IRS rules that allow them to leach money from taxpayers.

A spokesperson for Freedom From Religion Foundation said, "This looks like the only way to get some action out of the IRS," and that "the tipping point was the braggadocio of 1,600 pastors claiming they endorsed from the pulpit. The number of complaints we've received has been escalating, and we have no explanation from the IRS. This is our way of finding out what is going on." Indeed, what is going on is so-called men of god breaking the agreement they made with the IRS with impunity and it is happening all across America with increasing regularity. In Virginia and Pennsylvania for example, at polling places religious voter guides titled, "An Impartial, Non-Partisan Guide to the November 6th Election" were openly displayed that asserted President Obama opposes "religious liberty" and the "appointment of conservative justices," while claiming Republican candidate Willard Romney supports both. The religious voter guide also says President Obama supports "open homosexuality in the military" and "government control of healthcare," while Romney opposes both. The guides were from the legislative arm of the Pennsylvania Family Institute and the state's affiliate of the Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family headed by evangelical fanatic Tony Perkins. The guides represent campaigning at a polling place, and besides violating election laws, because churches are 501(c)(3) entities, they violate IRS rules.

The sense of entitlement by a wide swath of Christian religions has exceeded just living off taxpayer largesse and tax-exempt status. A deceptive initiative on Florida's ballot last week is another sign that regardless the special privileges churches enjoy, they can always find other ways to subvert the Constitution and bilk taxpayers out of their hard-earned tax dollars to fund their tax-exempt endeavors.

Amendment 8, a Republican-backed measure aimed at repealing a constitutional ban on using state money "directly or indirectly" to fund any "church, sect or religious domination" which includes religious schools, failed to garner 60% of the vote and failed. The sole purpose of the Republican religious measure was implementing a voucher system to allow Christians to use taxpayer money for tuition at private religious schools. The amendment carried the deceptive "religious liberty" title, but enough Floridians were literate enough to read the amendment and reject it for what it was; forced taxpayer funding of religion. It is a double insult to taxpayers because besides being forced to pay for someone else's religious instruction, the religious schools are exempt from paying taxes on their income. It is similar to Willard Romney's use of tithes that benefited him and the Mormon cult.

In Romney's case, he gets to write off his membership dues (tithes) to enter the Mormon Temple on his tax return, and the church that invests his tithes in extensive for-profit business ventures is exempt from paying taxes on the tithes and the profits from businesses owned by the church. If one adds the exemption from paying property taxes and double-dipping by church clergy, the local community, state, and federal government are all deprived of much-needed revenue. Churches all benefit from law enforcement, fire fighters, and infrastructure funded by taxpayers and they should not be exempt from contributing to fund the services they use. Proponents of taxpayer-funded church and clergy entitlements claim religious organizations do important work in their communities and deserve to benefit from other Americans' tax dollars, but all things being equal, they do not do as important work as nurses, police officers, firefighters, or school teachers who pay their fair share in income and property taxes. In fact, one can safely argue that many religious groups do untold damage in their communities by opposing gay rights and women's right to choose as well as forcing their beliefs on secular entities like public schools. It is little wonder the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against the IRS to force them to enforce 501(c)(3) rules, but there is a simpler solution than suing the IRS to pressure them to do their job.

Regardless if religious organizations abuse their agreement with the IRS or not, it is long past the time to end their government-sanctioned and taxpayer-funded entitlements once and for all. There is no reasonable excuse to allow any church, or preacher, to avoid paying their fair share like every other American, and if they do not have a tax-exempt agreement with the IRS, they are free to preach from the pulpit to their heart's content. Another hazard of allowing tax-exempt organizations and their preachers to campaign from the pulpit is the risk of becoming outlets for tax-deductible, unreported campaign money. Political contributions are not tax-deductible, but if donors give to churches that campaign for a specific candidate or party, they can write off their campaign contributions giving them preferential treatment over every American, but that is what churches expect; preferential treatment for…what is it they do?

Many Christian churches serve a useful purpose, do not campaign from the pulpit, and contribute to their communities, and maybe they should be commended for doing what Jesus commanded. However, they should not be treated any differently than any other American who volunteers, donates, or helps their community and still pay taxes. The Constitution is explicit about two things; religion must be kept separate from the government, and every American is equal, and until every church, temple, and preacher is held to the same standards as a carpenter, waitress, or window washer, America will remain steeped in inequality and communities, states, and the federal government will be deprived of much needed revenue. America gives enough preferential treatment and entitlements to the rich, corporations, churches, and the oil industry, and in the spirit of equality, it is time for Americans to demand that the government ends all subsidies and insist that churches, like the wealthy, start paying their fair share.

Read More: http://www.politicususa.com/campaigning-pulpit-win...

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Top Opinion

  • ☆astac☆~PWCM 2012/11/18 16:55:17
    No churches should be tax exempt
    ☆astac☆~PWCM
    +11
    I think proud progressives should be taxed more than everyone else, since they want the government to spend, spend, spend, let them pay for it.

    Remember fire obama supporters, they are not Americans

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  • Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
    DutchHeretic Native non-American
    Here's a good reason :
    tax religion
  • Sissy 2012/11/23 14:34:40
    None of the above
    Sissy
    Here is my own personal opinion.

    I do not have a problem with a church being tax free under the following conditions:

    **They adhere to the rule of absolute "separation of church and state".
    **Any properties owned in which the church building does not sit on, is fully taxed
    **Any church that is political, or takes political stands, (including but not limited to, the t.v. preachers) should lose immediately their tax free status.

    There are others, but you get my drift.

    Many churches who do not stick their noses where they don't belong....most definitely politics, do many good things internationally, nationally and locally. Our food pantry is supported, we have meals, including holiday ones for those who have no place to go, we are providing skilled tradesman for the wreckage on the ravaged coast. But what has kept me there and active is we never, ever talk politics. I don't even know how my own pastor votes and I could care less. Should politics ever enter the foray, I would be out of there in a flash.
  • Golanv (Raven) 2012/11/23 14:15:48
    Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
    Golanv (Raven)
    +1
    When they decide to start preaching politics it is time for them to start paying taxes. In '04 the pastor in a neighboring county told his congregation if they planned to vote Democrat (Kerry) they either needed to repent or leave. Though I can't find evidence of it in print, he quit because of people protesting his church.
    http://usatoday30.usatoday.co...
    This past year I wrote a campaign song for Cecil Bothwell for Congress, performed the song and worked on his campaign. He was railroaded by the newspapers for being a gay friendly atheist against the marriage amendment, preached against in local churches, voting districts were split and he lost in the primaries. Cecil is one of the best men I've ever met.
    http://www.autostraddle.com/c...
  • bob h. 2012/11/22 19:18:00
    Undecided
    bob h.
    +3
    Real religions should be tax free, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, but the vast majority are just scams.
  • Sissy bob h. 2012/11/23 14:37:11
    Sissy
    Agree bob, especially the electronic preachers as in Pat Robertson, and the late Jerry Falwell.
  • bob h. Sissy 2012/11/24 00:57:08
    bob h.
    +1
    Pat Robertson is completely around the bend.
  • Sissy bob h. 2012/11/24 11:58:10
    Sissy
    THAT'S putting it mildly.
  • Laura Vanderbooben 2012/11/21 01:33:03
    Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
    Laura Vanderbooben
    +1
    Yes they fkn should, theres alot of money goes through many of the religious institutions all over the world and they should pay taxes, ffs they could quash national and 3rd world debt.!!
  • Popeye 2012/11/19 12:45:34
  • lucky 2012/11/19 12:42:57
    Undecided
    lucky
    Id say yes but I think is should be based on how much actual income the church has, for instance Id hate to see a church that gives away the majority of its income to the needy get taxed to the point where it has to cut back on a program like that but on the other hand I wouldnt mind seeing some of these mega churches where the money goes into the church elders pockets get taxed.
  • Jane 2012/11/19 11:58:31
    Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
    Jane
    +4
    Churches around here are very wealthy and should contribute to society.
  • Hawkeye 2012/11/19 11:37:05
    No churches should be tax exempt
    Hawkeye
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Contrary to Left Wing Doctrine,, there is NO such prohibition in the Constitution that forbids Religion from “Campaigning from the Pulpit”..

    The Constitution prohibits the State,, the GOVERNMENT,, from passing ANY Laws respecting the “ESTABLISHMENT” of any Religion above ALL others.. It prohibits the establishment of a STATE RELIGION and THAT is as far as it goes.. THAT is the FULL extent of the so called “Wall of Separation”… EVEN in the Document from which the term “Separation of Church and State “ comes,, Jefferson was assuring a RELIGIOUS denomination of their RIGHTS to freely express their PARTICULAR religious views without Government interference..

    From THERE the First Amendment goes on to quantify the rights of the people to FREELY ASSEMBLE,, to FREELY exercise their religious expressions and otherwise express their views as FREE SPEECH..

    The Constitution’s purpose is to RESTRICT the powers of the the Government,, NOT the RIGHTS of the People..

    If ANYTHING,, this so called “Freedom From Religion...



    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Contrary to Left Wing Doctrine,, there is NO such prohibition in the Constitution that forbids Religion from “Campaigning from the Pulpit”..

    The Constitution prohibits the State,, the GOVERNMENT,, from passing ANY Laws respecting the “ESTABLISHMENT” of any Religion above ALL others.. It prohibits the establishment of a STATE RELIGION and THAT is as far as it goes.. THAT is the FULL extent of the so called “Wall of Separation”… EVEN in the Document from which the term “Separation of Church and State “ comes,, Jefferson was assuring a RELIGIOUS denomination of their RIGHTS to freely express their PARTICULAR religious views without Government interference..

    From THERE the First Amendment goes on to quantify the rights of the people to FREELY ASSEMBLE,, to FREELY exercise their religious expressions and otherwise express their views as FREE SPEECH..

    The Constitution’s purpose is to RESTRICT the powers of the the Government,, NOT the RIGHTS of the People..

    If ANYTHING,, this so called “Freedom From Religion Foundation” is advocating a particularly UN American and UN Constitutional doctrine that clearly undermines the whole purpose of the Constitution and the very reasons for the formation of this great nation..

    One might JUST as easily form a “ Freedom from Free Speech” movement,, a “ Freedom from the Free Press “ Movemnet or a “ Freedon from Peaceful Assembly “ movement and call THAT a “Right”..

    Fact IS.. America declared independence from a KING some 250 years ago who did exactly that…
    (more)
  • rustyshackelford 2012/11/19 11:22:30
  • Jane rustysh... 2012/11/19 12:00:50
    Jane
    +4
    Why should any business be taxed? Because that is how we support our commons.
  • rustysh... Jane 2012/11/19 12:21:03
  • Jane rustysh... 2012/11/19 12:43:25
    Jane
    +5
    Oh yes it is, my brother in law is a baptist preacher. He and his family spend money like it was water. They are very disrespectful to their flock.
  • rustysh... Jane 2012/11/19 19:07:54 (edited)
  • Jane rustysh... 2012/11/20 19:01:17
    Jane
    +2
    Right they have NO purpose other than to rip people off and spread bias and hatred.
  • rustysh... Jane 2012/11/20 23:23:03
  • hatter rustysh... 2012/11/21 00:44:05
    hatter
    Everytime I see that mugshot i wanna hurt somebody.
  • Sissy rustysh... 2012/11/23 14:39:50
    Sissy
    I would sadly say, all too many of them have become just that.
  • Sissy rustysh... 2012/11/23 14:39:26
    Sissy
    I keep going back to the "electronic preachers" like Jimmy Bakker, and others who kept their wives in minks, owned blocks of high-rent apartment bulidings, drove big cars and did it all in the name of a man who never owned a thing in his short life.
  • rustysh... Sissy 2012/11/23 22:55:17
  • Sissy rustysh... 2012/11/24 12:01:49
    Sissy
    Don't you remember the great Jimmy Bakker? Now there was a charleton if there ever was one. He lived in a mansion and had an air-conditioned dog house for his pet. His late wife, Tammi shopped off the contributions sent in by people like my grandmother who lived on a fixed income but "wanted to share in their good works". lol

    Jim Bakker
    Tammi Bakker
  • rustysh... Sissy 2012/11/24 20:09:37
  • Sissy rustysh... 2012/11/25 13:17:18
    Sissy
    They were an incredible duo.....like most other of the electronic preachers both then and now.
  • redhorse29 2012/11/19 08:16:33
    Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
    redhorse29
    +2
    So should all every agency and business. There should be no exemptions for anyone.
  • Broddy 2012/11/19 08:09:08
    Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
    Broddy
  • Night71 2012/11/19 06:48:27
    Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
    Night71
    +6
    A church is just a money making racketeering building. Even the speaker has no belief in what he is ranting about. Tax the nut cases to the max and see how long the crap goes on for.
  • s2k 2012/11/19 06:34:41
    No churches should be tax exempt
    s2k
    If you tax churches you'll have to tax other non profits too
  • hatter 2012/11/19 05:42:46
    No churches should be tax exempt
    hatter
    Off coarse not surly you jest. You want to start a real holy war. Punks. This country is starting to stink more and more. demoncrats. Kinda starting to resemble post ww2 Russia.
  • roxie 2012/11/19 04:14:55
    Yes churches should be taxed just like any other political advocacy group
    roxie
    +5
    Allow tax breaks only when they can prove they are helping people.
    Many Churches are Big Bussiness who are involved in politics and tell their followers what to think and how to vote.
    That should not be the work of any Church.
    Religion should guide your soul not your sense of reality! religous nuts
  • Sapphire 2012/11/19 03:46:20
    Undecided
    Sapphire
    I hope you all know that the Church is a PRIVATE INSTITUTION.
  • Phantom 2012/11/19 02:25:39
    None of the above
    Phantom
    +8
    Churches are in business for only one reason, to con an easy dollar off of people who think they can buy their way into heaven.
  • hatter Phantom 2012/11/19 05:44:37
    hatter
    Maybe that's what your worthless parents taught you.
  • Phantom hatter 2012/11/19 13:10:22
    Phantom
    +2
    Just think of all the money you could have saved.
  • hatter Phantom 2012/11/20 00:39:51
    hatter
    Churches are for the people. Basically they have a bunch of rules that have been perfected over the years to keep people out of trouble. Just another bossman. Nobody likes being told what to do I guess.
  • Guru_T_... hatter 2012/11/23 00:54:51
    Guru_T_Firefly
    +1
    Churches are only for people who are willing to accept and believe what that particular church preaches. Everyone else seems to be on their own.
  • hatter Guru_T_... 2012/11/23 01:27:11
    hatter
    That's right. Nothin wrong with that.
  • Guru_T_... hatter 2012/11/23 02:54:56
    Guru_T_Firefly
    +1
    Oh, it's absolutely wrong and it's exclusionary to boot. Believers aren't more deserving of charity than anyone else.

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