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(WTOP)   The IRS has basically quit even trying to enforce that whole "tax-exempt churches can't preach politics" thing. Because, you know, it's hard and stuff   (wtop.com) divider line 218
    More: Stupid, IRS, United States federal courts, Americans United, church law, worship service, tax code  
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8781 clicks; posted to Main » on 05 Nov 2012 at 12:57 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-05 01:32:12 PM  

SkunkWerks: All that said, it really doesn't sound very practical in terms of enforcement. Short of being exceedingly invasive of religious organizations, i don't see how enforcement could be accomplished.


Actually, it is rather easy to enforce. Ministers may offer prayers (intercessions) to political leaders, candidates, etc, but they cannot preach politics from the pulpit and retain their tax exempt status. If they tell their congregation that they should vote for candidate A because candidate B supports the sin of homosexuality, they have they have just violated the law. The IRS only investigates complaints. They don't go after every church out there. Many Christians are highly offended by their religion being politicized. On the other hand, there are many small storefront "churches" out there that aren't churches at all, but political operatives using the church as a cover. I know of a few that were popped by the IRS and essentially shut down. Fortunately, these usually only have a few very misguided members and once their backdoor funding dries up, the "preachers" close up shop and skip town.
 
2012-11-05 01:32:37 PM  

super_grass: Englebert Slaptyback: A while ago Bill Maher opined that churches are indeed abusing the tax exemption, and if the church catches on fire the church people should not be allowed to call the fire department.

Liberal compassion at work.


Logic at work.
 
2012-11-05 01:35:40 PM  
Solution? Tax the farking churches.
 
2012-11-05 01:35:58 PM  
Here's my opinion:

What should happen is that the government and religion should be 100% separated. Federal, state, and local governments. No special treatment. No tax breaks aside from 'non profit' to those churches and such that can apply.

All laws should be examined for religious motivation. For example, alcohol laws. You can't buy liquor here on Sunday. Cut and dry, religiously motivated, it's out. You can't buy beer in liquor stores here because there's the temptation that some beer drinkers might turn to liquor. Cut and dry, religiously motivated, it's out. You can't buy non-alcoholic products here from liquor stores because then it would be a convenience for people and thus a temptation to turn to liquor. Cut and dry, religiously motivated, it's out. Liquor licenses are not granted within so many thousands of feet from a school/bus stop/church/etc. Religiously motivated, it's out. No gay marriage here. Religiously motivated, it's out. Etc. Etc. Those are all the ones I could think of within 30 seconds, and would change the way of life around these parts drastically.

Oh, the irony..
 
2012-11-05 01:37:06 PM  

phartman: In other news, taxation of expatriates continues unabated.

Taxation without representation is tyranny"


Feminization without castration is tranny!

sorry
 
2012-11-05 01:37:30 PM  
Because, theocracy.
 
2012-11-05 01:38:11 PM  

meanmutton: the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Relief Services,


Despite using the cross (and crescent in Islamic countries), originally as a reference to Swiss neutralitiy, the international Red Cross/Crescent movement did not come out of religious charity in any meaningful sense.

The rest, yes, fair enough.
 
2012-11-05 01:39:21 PM  
I've seen churches provide false documentation calling private school tuition a donation for tax purposes, quite the moral beacon there.
 
2012-11-05 01:39:37 PM  

JackieRabbit: Many Christians are highly offended by their religion being politicized.


Meanwhile, everyone else is highly offended by our politics becoming religicized.
 
2012-11-05 01:39:46 PM  

JackieRabbit: Actually, it is rather easy to enforce. Ministers may offer prayers (intercessions) to political leaders, candidates, etc, but they cannot preach politics from the pulpit and retain their tax exempt status.


So, we pay an IRS auditor to sit in on every sermon ever held at any church ever and we can cover this?

Keen. Sounds like a real job-creator.

JackieRabbit: The IRS only investigates complaints. They don't go after every church out there.


Well, yes, that's rather my point. I can't think of a church sermon that hasn't come to politics (and opinions thereof) at some point in the sermon-cycle. I'd say this happens a lot- in "legitimate" and "illegitimate" institutions alike... if you care to look for it.

JackieRabbit: On the other hand, there are many small storefront "churches" out there that aren't churches at all, but political operatives using the church as a cover. I know of a few that were popped by the IRS and essentially shut down. Fortunately, these usually only have a few very misguided members and once their backdoor funding dries up, the "preachers" close up shop and skip town.


Well, you see now, there you go. If you scrutinize a few- even if the scrutiny seems justifiable- you're inevitably going to get (not entirely unfounded) accusations of persecution.

Like I said, sounds like a wonderful idea... on paper.
 
2012-11-05 01:40:02 PM  
Just for the record, if anyone brings up anything political in an LDS church meeting, they are politely ignored, and then told off later, unless they dont get the hint, in which case they are told off publically. Except for the really really old people. We sometimes let them rant (still ignoring them) but forego the "telling-off" because, well, they are old.

About the most political thing Ive heard is this election cycle is "'Im more of a Hunstman mormon than a Romney mormon"

You do see plenty of Romney and Obama bumper stickers in the parking lots though.
 
2012-11-05 01:43:54 PM  
I don't know about you, but the people who go to retail establishments during busy hours and then jam everything up by claiming they are 'tax exempt' really butters my bread. Like wtf... you own a church so you just get to skip taxes on your retail purchases...the computer doesn't have a readily available option for 'remove tax' ..it's usually burried in the system somewhere deep so employees don't abuse it....then if you can actually find the option in the system it doesn't work...or there is still a few cents tax on there that the person won't pay... Then you have to call management who calls their bosses who say something along the lines of 'send us your birth certificate and church license via the post office and then we can take the $1.28 off your bill...please continue to remain in line while this process occurs.
 
2012-11-05 01:44:23 PM  
In my Catholic church they most political thing they've done is complain about the HHS mandate.

Read a downstate interview with a AME (I think) pastor who was annoyed about disinterested voters in his church so he said he's been preaching about voting for Obama for a month to get people fired up.
 
2012-11-05 01:46:01 PM  
i18.photobucket.com
 
2012-11-05 01:48:18 PM  
Going after churches now. Wow.
 
2012-11-05 01:48:50 PM  
I never saw any justification for allowing church income tax exempt status to begin with. Church charities like food banks and shelters, sure those are CHARITIES and would be exempt, but the CHURCH is a for profit organization. The church should pay the same income tax as any other small business.
 
2012-11-05 01:50:14 PM  

enry: Yeah, I stood up in church during the announcement part of our service. I happened to be on the Altar at the time, as I was a LEM (Lay Eucharistic Minister) and had my garb on.

I stood up and said "Get out and vote. I don't care who you vote for, but there's more than just the presidential election on the ballot and there's plenty of things that will affect you or someone you know. If you can't make it to your polling place, tell me and I'll drive you there myself."

And then I sat down and that was that.

Why can't other churches do it that way?


Because when you get right down to it, George Carlin was right - religion is about mind control and money.

I do not begrudge others their belief in God/Allah/Yahweh/Whatever, but being a function of man any church has the ability fallible, corrupt, and greedy. I'm not saying every church is. There are some fantastic people out there who can rise above money and politics to do the right thing, but they seem increasingly fewer.
 
2012-11-05 01:50:55 PM  

Teresaol31: I never saw any justification for allowing church income tax exempt status to begin with.


I've rarely seen that churches much mind running themselves like businesses, no. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...
 
2012-11-05 01:51:02 PM  

Hrist: You can't buy beer in liquor stores here because there's the temptation that some beer drinkers might turn to liquor. Cut and dry, religiously motivated, it's out. You can't buy non-alcoholic products here from liquor stores because then it would be a convenience for people and thus a temptation to turn to liquor. Cut and dry, religiously motivated, it's out. Liquor licenses are not granted within so many thousands of feet from a school/bus stop/church/etc.


I think there's a difference between laws advocated by people who are also members of a religion (or who share some of the same societal values as a religion) and religiously motivated laws. You don't have to be pro-God to be anti-drunk.
 
2012-11-05 01:51:46 PM  

Teresaol31: but the CHURCH is a for profit organization.

 
2012-11-05 01:53:12 PM  

ISO15693: Teresaol31: but the CHURCH is a for profit organization.

farm3.static.flickr.com
 
2012-11-05 01:53:20 PM  

Spade: In my Catholic church they most political thing they've done is complain about the HHS mandate.

Read a downstate interview with a AME (I think) pastor who was annoyed about disinterested voters in his church so he said he's been preaching about voting for Obama for a month to get people fired up.


in the catholic church where i occasionally attend services, the most political they've been is to say, let's pray that our politicians do good and help those in need.

/ though i'm not a catholic, not confirmed, etc, I appreciate the services at this church.
// still not sure if it's better to wait in line and say no to communion (cross your arms, or whatever), or just keep sitting there like the heathen that i am.
 
2012-11-05 01:55:33 PM  

MurphyMurphy: Just get rid of their tax exempt status.

God understands, otherwise he wouldn't have told you to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.

Problem solved.


Ding don't ding...I am thinking 5% of gross take in is appropriate.
 
2012-11-05 01:55:46 PM  
Be careful what you wish for. I'll just leave this here...
bfl-app-content.s3.amazonaws.comglobetribune.infowww.infiniteunknown.netassets.nydailynews.com
 
2012-11-05 01:57:47 PM  

tjfly: Be careful what you wish for. I'll just leave this here...
[bfl-app-content.s3.amazonaws.com image 484x312][globetribune.info image 400x301][www.infiniteunknown.net image 300x415][assets.nydailynews.com image 485x376]


Now you pick that up right now, and put it back where you got it!
 
2012-11-05 01:59:08 PM  

Lord Dimwit: Tax Boy: I used to litigate these back in the day on behalf of the government. They're usually brought to the IRS's attention by whistleblowers with an axe to grind ("I'm mad at my preacher!") or Americans United.

The IRS hates to litigate them because of the negative publicity -- the IRS going after your church? Ugh.

Yeah, but it's not like the IRS has ever had positive publicity anyway.


Its kinda like a turds Polish wearing off...
 
2012-11-05 01:59:09 PM  

devildog123: scottydoesntknow: Was the 'Obvious' tag busy instructing its congregation that voting for Obama will usher in the apocalypse?

You've obviously never been to an AME church before election day. They had Obama posters up behind the pulpit this year.


Obviously a conscious trollface attempt aimed at any IRS agents in attendance.
/comatmebro.jpg
 
2012-11-05 01:59:47 PM  
 
2012-11-05 02:01:21 PM  

ISO15693: Just for the record, if anyone brings up anything political in an LDS church meeting, they are politely ignored, and then told off later, unless they dont get the hint, in which case they are told off publically. Except for the really really old people. We sometimes let them rant (still ignoring them) but forego the "telling-off" because, well, they are old.

About the most political thing Ive heard is this election cycle is "'Im more of a Hunstman mormon than a Romney mormon"

You do see plenty of Romney and Obama bumper stickers in the parking lots though.


I'm gonna guess you're not inside the Zion Curtain. Different breed of animal resides there.
 
2012-11-05 02:01:39 PM  

Tax Boy: I used to litigate these back in the day on behalf of the government. They're usually brought to the IRS's attention by whistleblowers with an axe to grind ("I'm mad at my preacher!") or Americans United.

The IRS hates to litigate them because of the negative publicity -- the IRS going after your church? Ugh.


The IRS is the best group to do this. Who likes the IRS in the first place?
 
2012-11-05 02:04:46 PM  
FTA:
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has recently taken out full-page ads in major newspapers, featuring a photo of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, urging Americans to vote along biblical principles.
This Sunday, Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill., ordered all the priests in his diocese to read a statement urging Catholics to vote and stating that, "Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord."

These don't threaten charitable status. Both organizations are big enough to have lawyers who know how to walk up to the line without crossing it.
...40 percent of black Protestants who attend worship services regularly said their clergy have discussed a specific candidate in church -- and the candidate in every instance was President Barack Obama.

This does cross the line, but like most easy to prosecute instances of political activity it's concentrated in African American chruches, and it would be quite politically inconvenient for the IRS to start taking away the tax deductability of churches that are almost entirely aligned with only a single party.
 
2012-11-05 02:05:45 PM  
Either pay taxes or pray for rain when your building catches on fire.
 
2012-11-05 02:07:11 PM  

elguerodiablo: Tax Boy: I used to litigate these back in the day on behalf of the government. They're usually brought to the IRS's attention by whistleblowers with an axe to grind ("I'm mad at my preacher!") or Americans United.

The IRS hates to litigate them because of the negative publicity -- the IRS going after your church? Ugh.

The IRS is the best group to do this. Who likes the IRS in the first place?


I liked the IRS before it was cool.
 
2012-11-05 02:08:50 PM  

meanmutton: BarleyGnome: I truly despise organized religion.

I'm an atheist and I'm quite happy to have organized religion. Even if you set aside the amazing music and art from the Renaissance that came out of Christianity and just focus on the modern, you have -- the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Relief Services, tons of hospitals and schools, food banks, homeless shelters, and tons of other service related charities.


Christianity did not create those things, people did, it's just one of many ways to get groups of people together to sponsor and do things like that. We still have people making fantastic music, art, and doing charity without religion. Also, the Renaissance was not a Christian movement, it was more of an intellectual humanist movement, and there was a lot of great art and music that came out of that time that was not Christian or even religious at all. I like to imagine how much more awesome the music and art of the past could have been if more of it had been commissioned by secular organizations instead of religious ones, and artists felt free to express ideas that may have conflicted with whatever church was in power at that time.
 
2012-11-05 02:13:06 PM  
"In Texas, a pastor of a small independent church posted a sign on the front of the building that read, 'Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim.' Romney is the first Mormon nominee for president by a major party. "

Not that anyone is counting; but Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints ran as independent in the 1844 election. Part of his platform was to annex part of Texas.

So take that Texas!
 
2012-11-05 02:13:12 PM  

Ehcks: [wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com image 600x776]


Yesssssss......do this. If you are religious enough to skip voting and pray, I'm ok with it. Please, I encourage you to stay home and pray and watch the 700 Club or whatever you religious people do nowadays.
 
2012-11-05 02:16:25 PM  

phartman: In other news, taxation of expatriates continues unabated.

Taxation without representation is tyranny"


As an American living in Canada, I am not getting a kick out of expatriate taxation.
 
2012-11-05 02:16:38 PM  

elguerodiablo: The IRS is the best group to do this. Who likes the IRS in the first place?


Even the IRS is concerned about running into a group large enough to vote them out of existence.
 
2012-11-05 02:16:58 PM  

HortusMatris: Christianity did not create those things, people did, it's just one of many ways to get groups of people together to sponsor and do things like that.


Catholic Relief Services wasn't a product of religion? Wow.
 
2012-11-05 02:17:15 PM  

Miss Stein: ISO15693: Just for the record, if anyone brings up anything political in an LDS church meeting, they are politely ignored, and then told off later, unless they dont get the hint, in which case they are told off publically. Except for the really really old people. We sometimes let them rant (still ignoring them) but forego the "telling-off" because, well, they are old.

About the most political thing Ive heard is this election cycle is "'Im more of a Hunstman mormon than a Romney mormon"

You do see plenty of Romney and Obama bumper stickers in the parking lots though.

I'm gonna guess you're not inside the Zion Curtain. Different breed of animal resides there.


I am.

Unless things have changed drastically in the last ten years, no one bothers with politics from the pulpit.
Why should they? They are going to see all those people 2-3 more times that week in much less formal settings, when they aren't snoozing or picking cheerios off the floor.
Even then, except for a few spots in salt lake county and near park city the republican is going to win.
It's only a question of by how much.
 
2012-11-05 02:18:09 PM  

HortusMatris: I like to imagine how much more awesome the music and art of the past could have been if more of it had been commissioned by secular organizations instead of religious ones, and artists felt free to express ideas that may have conflicted with whatever church was in power at that time.


Take a look at civic art from those periods. It's not much different.

It's never been safe for artists to anger their patrons, regardless of who they may be.
 
2012-11-05 02:19:33 PM  

HortusMatris: Also, the Renaissance was not a Christian movement, it was more of an intellectual humanist movement, and there was a lot of great art and music that came out of that time that was not Christian or even religious at all.


Now, the Dark Ages that preceded it...
 
2012-11-05 02:20:46 PM  

Sticky Hands: Miss Stein: ISO15693: Just for the record, if anyone brings up anything political in an LDS church meeting, they are politely ignored, and then told off later, unless they dont get the hint, in which case they are told off publically. Except for the really really old people. We sometimes let them rant (still ignoring them) but forego the "telling-off" because, well, they are old.

About the most political thing Ive heard is this election cycle is "'Im more of a Hunstman mormon than a Romney mormon"

You do see plenty of Romney and Obama bumper stickers in the parking lots though.

I'm gonna guess you're not inside the Zion Curtain. Different breed of animal resides there.

I am.

Unless things have changed drastically in the last ten years, no one bothers with politics from the pulpit.
Why should they? They are going to see all those people 2-3 more times that week in much less formal settings, when they aren't snoozing or picking cheerios off the floor.
Even then, except for a few spots in salt lake county and near park city the republican is going to win.
It's only a question of by how much.


Things -have- changed drastically in the last decade. Nice to see you've come out from under that rock. Now try to keep up.
 
2012-11-05 02:21:25 PM  

STRYPERSWINE: Going after churches now. Wow.


So much fail in only four words. Wow.
 
2012-11-05 02:21:44 PM  

meanmutton: I'm an atheist and I'm quite happy to have organized religion. Even if you set aside the amazing music and art from the Renaissance that came out of Christianity and just focus on the modern, you have -- the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Relief Services, tons of hospitals and schools, food banks, homeless shelters, and tons of other service related charities.


I don't think anyone is arguing against organization. I'm pretty sure the complaint lies in the "religion" side of things. None of the things you named require religion to function, and making it part of the mission is a distraction from the goals and works you admire. Some of those charities require participation in the religion side of things in order to receive benefits; it's less common today than it was in the 15th century, but it's still a problem that undermines the otherwise good work these sorts of organizations are doing.
 
2012-11-05 02:21:55 PM  

Boeheimian Rhapsody: not so csb:

My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Hawaii a couple weeks ago when we attended an open-aired sunday morning Episcopal church service. Things were going rather swimmingly until the sermon.

The preacher ended his sermon with:

...I recently had a meeting with numerous other religious leaders. many different races, colors, religions, all present for a lunch-time discussion. We wanted to come together to brainstorm more ways we can help those who need it most. We talked about many things, but the overarching message, was to help figure out what more we can do to help influence public policy.

He ended his sermon with a smile and a nod, and my wife and I looked at each other with mirrored expressions, "WTF? DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT?"

And that's when we looked around everyone else was nodding their heads.

It gave me a sad for this country.


You must have really hated it when those baptist churches in the african american community organized a boycott against the poor bus companies.
 
2012-11-05 02:26:52 PM  
mrmorgans13english.pbworks.com

/hot like the cries of unwanted rape babies
 
2012-11-05 02:29:39 PM  

Hrist: Here's my opinion:

What should happen is that the government and religion should be 100% separated. Federal, state, and local governments. No special treatment. No tax breaks aside from 'non profit' to those churches and such that can apply.


From what I understand (I am not a lawyer), the reason religious activities are tax exempt is at least in part because of the separation of government and religion. The Supreme Court decided in 1970 that taxing churches would be a bigger violation of the establishment clause than not taxing them.

All laws should be examined for religious motivation. For example, alcohol laws. You can't buy liquor here on Sunday. Cut and dry, religiously motivated, it's out. You can't buy beer in liquor stores here because there's the temptation that some beer drinkers might turn to liquor. Cut and dry, religiously motivated, it's out. You can't buy non-alcoholic products here from liquor stores because then it would be a convenience for people and thus a temptation to turn to liquor. Cut and dry, religiously motivated, it's out. Liquor licenses are not granted within so many thousands of feet from a school/bus stop/church/etc. Religiously motivated, it's out. No gay marriage here. Religiously motivated, it's out. Etc. Etc. Those are all the ones I could think of within 30 seconds, and would change the way of life around these parts drastically.

Oh, the irony..


Yeah, I'll let the good Stanley Fish explain the problem with that scheme.
 
2012-11-05 02:32:08 PM  

MurphyMurphy: Just get rid of their tax exempt status.

God understands, otherwise he wouldn't have told you to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.

Problem solved.


I'd like to see a christian church official defend their tax exempt status when faced with this quote.
 
2012-11-05 02:32:43 PM  

phartman: In other news, taxation of expatriates continues unabated.

Taxation without representation is tyranny"


Well, we can still vote as expats. But I don't understand how the US has tax jurisdiction over me in my home in Europe. And what US services do I receive here, aside from an available embassy- which all other countries that do not tax expats operate.
 
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