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(Some Guy)   IRS sued over lack of enforcement of prohibition on electioneering by religious non-profits   (thedailypage.com) divider line 144
    More: Hero, Freedom From Religion Foundation, IRS, establishment clause, sanctity of life, freedoms, tax code, Constitution of the United States, churches  
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17393 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Nov 2012 at 3:38 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2012-11-15 01:04:32 PM  
18 votes:
The more basic issue than this for me is that I don't see how the IRS making churches exempt from taxation--or allowing individual taxpayers to take tax deductions for donations to churchs to support religious activities (such as Mitt Romney's millions of dollars each year in tithing that he's required to contributions to the Mormon Church to remain in good standing)--can be deemed to be allowable under the Establshment Clause of the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court keeps chipping away at Establishment Clause cases and allowing more and more religious intrusion into government activities (and vice-versa), but the basic premise at work here was set out 65 years ago in the Supreme Court's Everson v. Board of Education case as follows:

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State."

Doesn't allowing Pat Robertson's TV network to be exempt from taxes--when every non-religious TV network pays taxes--amount to the government giving support to religous activities? If the income Billy Graham's organization makes from filling a football stadium on Friday for a prayer meeting is non-taxable, while the income the football team makes playing in that same location on Sunday is taxed, isn't that a form of government financial support for that religion? If a guy Mitt Romney can deduct $5 million a year in tithing to the Mormon Church--which is required of him to remain in good standing, like membership dues to a country club--then why can't the CEO of another company deduct the membership dues he pays each month to his country club, and isn't the government essentially officially endorsing going to church as a more important and necessary activity than, say, playing golf? That's not supposed to be the government's call, is it?

And, of course, for every dollar that a church doesn't pay in taxes, and every dollar that taxpayers save in taxes by deducting their church fees and donations, the government needs to collect a dollar somewhere else to make up for it--and it does so by making everyone else's taxes higher to make up what it loses in religion-related tax revenue. Isn't that essentially levying a tax on every non-religion business, and every person who doesn't contribute to a church, to support religion?

Not that it will ever be ruled as such, but I simply don't see how giving religious entities and religious contributions favorable tax treatment as compared to secular activities can be squared with the Establishment Clause.
2012-11-15 12:12:06 PM  
17 votes:
if church pastors violated the law...then there SHOULD be an investigation and face sanctions for their actions.

look, there's a process here. if the law wasn't broken, then the pastors will have a chance to prove that fact. but you can't just ignore the rules. either the IRS rules apply to everyone or they apply to none of us.
2012-11-15 12:01:01 PM  
15 votes:
While I am in support of the tax-exemption for religious organizations (despite the abuse that it could
lead to), I vainly hope that this goes somewhere and that these asshat preachers who abused it lose
that status.

They won't, I'm sure, but I can pray for it, can't I?
2012-11-15 12:26:52 PM  
13 votes:
Tax.

All.

Religions.

Equally.
2012-11-15 12:25:32 PM  
11 votes:
Good.

They want to use the government to force their will on women and gays

I want to use the government to force them to pay their fair share.
2012-11-15 12:12:36 PM  
9 votes:

kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.


It's blatantly and publically breaking the law. If any of us were to do the same we'd be toast.
2012-11-15 12:05:53 PM  
8 votes:
It's pretty astounding and sick that we have to sue these morons to get them to do their jobs.
2012-11-15 01:15:39 PM  
6 votes:

EatHam: GAT_00: Remove the tax exemption.
For all non profits, or are you going to say that no religious organization is allowed to be categorized as non profit?


You didn't direct this question to me, but I'll answer anyway as a follow-up to my own post above: I'd say that if a religious group engages in any truly charitable activities with no religious component to them and no attempt to use those activities as a platform for advancing religion, as some of them do part of the time (food banks for the poor that are open to all regardless of religion, Red Cross type activities, etc.), then those activities and the funds used to support them should be considered nontaxable charitable activities, much in the way that private businesses sometimes set up nontaxable charitable foundations and other subentities to engage in those activities. But funds generated or donated to promote, recruit for, and support their particular brand of Invisible Sky WizardTM should not be given government tax support.
2012-11-15 12:18:49 PM  
6 votes:
Unfortunately I think what will happen is that the electioneering statute will be ruled unconstitutional.
2012-11-15 12:09:37 PM  
6 votes:
I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
2012-11-15 03:50:19 PM  
4 votes:

The Stealth Hippopotamus: Bashar and Asma's Infinite Playlist: It's estimated that one to three justices will retire, so you're right on that front. No hard evidence as of yet, but it's assumed that he's going to get a couple more picks. However there is evidence that he would pick liberal justices, considering he's had two picks already and they were more like Ginsburg than Scalia.

Scalia is going to wait to see how 2014 turns out but either way he's out after that.

Just my guess only


If Scalia retires, I expect Thomas to retire immediately afterward due to no longer knowing how to rule.
2012-11-15 03:46:21 PM  
4 votes:
My church consists of Religious Humanists----we don't do God, Jesus, BELIEFS or The Bible. Its called uua.org. Yes, we do social justice but not election-lobbying. We love Teh Gheys
2012-11-15 12:36:33 PM  
4 votes:

Bashar and Asma's Infinite Playlist: usernameguy: Unfortunately I think what will happen is that the electioneering statute will be ruled unconstitutional.

Would depend on how long it takes to work it's way through the courts, if it has standing. Obama is going to flip the Supreme Court sometime in a few years.


You have no proof that anyone will retire and no evidence that Obama will nominate a liberal to the bench.
2012-11-15 12:35:00 PM  
4 votes:
Sad that a lawsuit is necessary, but it's clear that religious groups are flagrantly violating the law. Remove the tax exemption.
2012-11-15 12:17:09 PM  
4 votes:

Weaver95: if the law wasn't broken, then the pastors will have a chance to prove that fact.

 
I'm not sure that you're placing the burden of proof properly.
2012-11-15 10:52:46 PM  
3 votes:

randomjsa: Black churches have been used as political platforms and tools for years and years and now suddenly people have a problem with electioneering by religious groups.

Careful FFR, your liberal is showing. Do not become yet another one sided partisan tool like NOW and NAACP.


It's not going to work.

FFRF is for promoting free thought and the First Amendment. It's historically all they've ever done. They don't pick and choose targets based on political leanings. It's just that your party really sucks at keeping church and state separate.
2012-11-15 09:10:25 PM  
3 votes:

rev. dave: One could argue, and I will, that some issues should belong to politicians and others to religious leaders. Marriage seems religious, taxes seem political.


If marriage was religious, it wouldn't require a license from the state to enter, and wouldn't require a court order to exit.

Churches don't get to decide who's qualified to enter a civil marriage, governments don't get to decide who's qualified for religious sacraments.

Step off, "reverend."
2012-11-15 04:44:16 PM  
3 votes:
Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's, biatches
2012-11-15 04:10:52 PM  
3 votes:

WhoopAssWayne: stand up and call out the liberal freeloaders at every opportunity


sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net
2012-11-15 04:01:22 PM  
3 votes:

ShawnDoc: A) Does this group even have standing to sue?


The FFRF is also a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that must abide by rules against electioneering.

I think that gives them standing. Since the federal government is essentially treating them unequally, saying that tax-exempt nonprofits can't be involved in political campaigns, except for churches, since we're not going to enforce our rules when it comes to churches.
2012-11-15 03:48:16 PM  
3 votes:
One of the reasons we have so many storefront churches is because snake oil salesmen want to fleece the public and not pay taxes on the money they take. They went from selling bad patent medicines to telling Bible stories and other fairy tales to the gullible while passing a basket around.

If they did enforce the tax laws, a lot of these ramshackle institutions would wink out like candles on a child's birthday cake.
2012-11-15 12:53:51 PM  
3 votes:

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


It is essentially a truce between state and religion: "you leave us alone and we'll leave you alone". Seems fair enough to me, as long as both sides abide by it.

The constitution says:
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.

You'll note that it doesn't say anything about taxation. Exempting religious (and other) non-profits from taxation is an extra-constitutional courtesy, that can and should be enforced if you don't play by the rules.

This isn't just about religious groups, a lot of political organizations are organized as non-profits that get right up against the line between electioneering and not
2012-11-15 12:51:15 PM  
3 votes:

EatHam: Weaver95: anyone who gets up there and starts endorsing candidates loses their exemption. anyone who avoids politics and/or keeps it vague (i.e. not endorsing a candidate) gets to keep their exemption.

I could very well be mistaken (and I'm sure that there will be plenty of people very happy to tell me if I am), but isn't it supposed to be that way for all non profits, not just religious ones?


well yeah. problem is that we don't follow our rules that are already on the books. I just don't see the point of writing NEW rules when the ones we've got address the issue quite well. so the problem isn't with the rules...its with the IRS. why has the IRS not done it's job? is it politics? a structural issue? slow response? that's where I'd focus my attentions.
2012-11-15 12:41:44 PM  
3 votes:

EatHam: GAT_00: Remove the tax exemption.

For all non profits, or are you going to say that no religious organization is allowed to be categorized as non profit?


if it were up to me? i'd have to go on a case by case basis. anyone who gets up there and starts endorsing candidates loses their exemption. anyone who avoids politics and/or keeps it vague (i.e. not endorsing a candidate) gets to keep their exemption.

messy and annoying but fair.
2012-11-15 12:09:15 PM  
3 votes:
I probably have a better chance at winning the lottery than a religious institution losing its tax-exempt status.
2012-11-15 10:12:33 PM  
2 votes:

tekmo: rev. dave: One could argue, and I will, that some issues should belong to politicians and others to religious leaders. Marriage seems religious, taxes seem political.

If marriage was religious, it wouldn't require a license from the state to enter, and wouldn't require a court order to exit.

Churches don't get to decide who's qualified to enter a civil marriage, governments don't get to decide who's qualified for religious sacraments.

Step off, "reverend."


Also, marriage existed before Christianity, and exists among non-Christian faiths.

Christians didn't invent marriage, they don't get to dictate the rules regarding it to non-Christians. 

A real-life example. My wife is a Wiccan priestess, she has an ordination through the ULC, so she can legally perform weddings. A gay couple we know were looking to get married. This state does not have marriage equality, so they weren't allowed to have it be a legally binding ceremony.

Why should a Christian minister (or lobbyist) be able to interfere in the a rite performed by a Wiccan between an Atheist and a Buddhist?
2012-11-15 08:32:08 PM  
2 votes:
And for what it's worth, I'm not making up this "special rights" stuff. I believe some of these churches are anticipating enforcement so they can challenge 501c3 as applied to them. Their argument is going to look something like the one in this law review article, which takes the position that 501c3 is unconstitutional as applied to religious non-profits, but not secular non-profits. I.e., they're looking to actually elevate pro-religious discrimination to constitutional mandate. I'm afraid this argument is going to find a friendly Court under Roberts.

Link

Read the article if you want: but I do not believe some of its assertions are accurate. Especially relating to its claims on how 501c3 supposedly restricts speech in churches. The electioneering restrictions are very narrow, and basically only prevent non-profits from endorsing candidates. They remain free to preach about issues all they want in any way they want, provided they don't endorse candidates. They can even say "abortion is a sin, and should be a crime" without risking their tax exempt status.
2012-11-15 07:54:56 PM  
2 votes:

Loadmaster: Loadmaster: Freedom of Speech. Protected political speech, specifically.

Mort_Q: No-one is saying they don't have the right to speak or endorse candidates. That is their right. It's just that doing so means they have to give up their tax-exempt status.

So you don't get freedom of speech unless you pay taxes?


No, it is simply that the government isn't required to subsidize your free speech activities by giving you a tax break for them. The Supreme Court spoke unanimously and directly to the constitutionality of 501c3's lobbying restrictions in Regan v. Taxation With Representation in 1983. All nine justices agreed to its constitutionality in an opinion written by Rehnquist:


"TWR contends that Congress' decision not to subsidize its lobbying violates the First Amendment. It claims, relying on Speiser v. Randall, 357 U. S. 513 (1958), that the prohibition against substantial lobbying by § 501(c)(3) organizations imposes an "unconstitutional condition" on the receipt of tax-deductible contributions. In Speiser, California established a rule requiring anyone who sought to take advantage of a property tax exemption to sign a declaration stating that he did not advocate the forcible overthrow of the Government of the United States. This Court stated that "[t]o deny an exemption to claimants who engage in certain forms of speech is in effect to penalize them for such speech." Id. at 357 U. S. 518."

"TWR is certainly correct when it states that we have held that the government may not deny a benefit to a person because he exercises a constitutional right. See Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U. S. 593, 408 U. S. 597 (1972). But TWR is just as certainly incorrect when it claims that this case fits the Speiser-Perry model. The Code does not deny TWR the right to receive deductible contributions to support its nonlobbying activity, nor does it deny TWR any independent benefit on account of its intention to lobby. Congress has merely refused to pay for the lobbying out of public moneys.** This Court has never held that Congress must grant a benefit such as TWR claims here to a person who wishes to exercise a constitutional right."

"This aspect of these cases is controlled by Cammarano v. United States, 358 U. S. 498 (1959), in which we upheld a Treasury Regulation that denied business expense deductions for lobbying activities. We held that Congress is not required by the First Amendment to subsidize lobbying. Id. at 358 U. S. 513. In these cases, as in Cammarano, Congress has not infringed any First Amendment rights or regulated any First Amendment activity. Congress has simply chosen not to pay for TWR's lobbying. We again reject the "notion that First Amendment rights are somehow not fully realized unless they are subsidized by the State."
2012-11-15 05:01:36 PM  
2 votes:

tenpoundsofcheese: meh. the Constitution does not provide for freedom from religion or freedom from being offended.


It also doesn't provide for churches to be exempt from laws that other groups have to follow.
2012-11-15 04:29:24 PM  
2 votes:

lohphat: I'll just leave this here.

Review the 501(c)(3) status of The Church of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons)


Yeah, they need a serious kick in the nuts for CA Prop. 8 alone! Fark those homophobic assholes right in the pocketbook!
2012-11-15 04:08:27 PM  
2 votes:

Loadmaster: Freedom of Speech.

Protected political speech, specifically.


Hey, if pastors and preacher and priests want to exercise the freedom of political speech, they should be absolutely free to do so, no one should stop them, and I would be the first in line to defend their freedom of speech.

They should not be tax-exempt in that situation, however.
2012-11-15 04:06:52 PM  
2 votes:

Doc Daneeka: genner: Isn't the Freedom From Religion Foundation also a tax exempt organization?
What are they doing getting involved in political matter like this?

This isn't a political matter. It's a legal matter.

Moreover, it's a legal matter that impacts them (as a tax-exempt nonprofit) directly. So they have every right get involved.


This. They are claiming that they are being discriminated against because they have to follow a law that other tax-exempt organizations blatantly ignore.
2012-11-15 04:03:32 PM  
2 votes:

genner: Isn't the Freedom From Religion Foundation also a tax exempt organization?
What are they doing getting involved in political matter like this?


This isn't a political matter. It's a legal matter.

Moreover, it's a legal matter that impacts them (as a tax-exempt nonprofit) directly. So they have every right get involved.
2012-11-15 03:59:41 PM  
2 votes:

Weaver95: EatHam: Weaver95: anyone who gets up there and starts endorsing candidates loses their exemption. anyone who avoids politics and/or keeps it vague (i.e. not endorsing a candidate) gets to keep their exemption.

I could very well be mistaken (and I'm sure that there will be plenty of people very happy to tell me if I am), but isn't it supposed to be that way for all non profits, not just religious ones?

well yeah. problem is that we don't follow our rules that are already on the books. I just don't see the point of writing NEW rules when the ones we've got address the issue quite well. so the problem isn't with the rules...its with the IRS. why has the IRS not done it's job? is it politics? a structural issue? slow response? that's where I'd focus my attentions.


The IRS has been gutted by years of anti-tax politicians and their appointees. The less functional the IRS is, the more proof they have that it's non-functional and unfair and the more excuse they have to gut it further.
2012-11-15 03:58:59 PM  
2 votes:
Good. I have no problem allowing tax-exempt status for churches that actually do charitable work but they must be held to the same standards as any other non-profit. Violate that, lose your status.
2012-11-15 03:58:41 PM  
2 votes:

ShawnDoc: A) Does this group even have standing to sue?
B) If they do have standing, can't the IRS just argue discretion?


See above - they do, because they're arguing that the IRS is using its discretion unfairly to enforce the prohibition against them, but not other groups, merely because of their religious beliefs.
2012-11-15 03:56:47 PM  
2 votes:

WhoopAssWayne: It is long past time to do away with any freedom of speech restrictions on churches. Our ministers need to stand up and call out the liberal freeloaders at every opportunity. If the IRS wants to take away a few tax breaks then so be it - we will make them pay for it every Wednesday night and every Sunday morning. We must call them out by name, we must get organized, we must make our voices heard!


501(c)3 was a lure to keep religion out of politics. Keep quiet and no fed taxes. Simple.

You want to participate? Then pay your taxes.

They can't have it both ways.

Mixing religion and government works out so well for the rest of the world.

/herp
2012-11-15 03:56:45 PM  
2 votes:
Failing to enforce a law and violating the establishment clause are completely different things, but other than that overblown bit of rhetoric, I am behind this all the way. I'm not against churches endorsing candidates and taking other political stances, but if they do, they should file their taxes honestly.
2012-11-15 03:55:50 PM  
2 votes:
On the flip side, the FFRF could have just played into the Religious Right's hands, as there were hoping that someone would either sue or try to collect so a pastor could sue, in an attempt to overturn that portion of the law.
2012-11-15 03:55:02 PM  
2 votes:

cman: How does one have standing for such a suit?




Whether the court will find that the plaintiff has standing or not, I would not care to predict - but it's not without precedent.
2012-11-15 03:48:20 PM  
2 votes:
End tax exempt status for all religious organizations.

If your organization wants to endorse a political candidate, you should have to comply with campaign finance laws.

sammyk: CapeFearCadaver: kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

It's blatantly and publically breaking the law. If any of us were to do the same we'd be toast.

But you do not sue the local police to report a crime.


You DO sue the police when a crime is reported and they tell you to fark off, we don't care that a crime was committed.
2012-11-15 03:43:28 PM  
2 votes:
religion takes in billions of dollars and they pay no taxes....now you talk about a good bullshiat story! HOLY shiat!

upload.wikimedia.org
2012-11-15 02:14:07 PM  
2 votes:

Bashar and Asma's Infinite Playlist: You want to see the "war on religion" rhetoric amp up to eleven?


Some days we're already there. Or,

I never saw a rich man who didn't wind up with a guilty conscience.

Already got a guilty conscience. Might as well have the money too.
2012-11-15 01:38:17 PM  
2 votes:
Yeaaaah.... I'm sorry, but the court is going to grant summary judgement to the IRS for lack of standing. Sorry. That's it. This is just a more complicated press release.
2012-11-15 01:37:25 PM  
2 votes:

EatHam: Cyberluddite: But funds generated or donated to promote, recruit for, and support their particular brand of Invisible Sky WizardTM should not be given government tax support.

You wouldn't think that would count like the administrative overhead, just like advertising for the United Way or something?


I don't really consider the United Way non-profit anymore. After dealing with their efforts at a certain restricted area that I worked at this summer, they're just greedy farks who spend more money promoting themselves than helping.
2012-11-15 12:56:30 PM  
2 votes:

EatHam: GAT_00: Religious organizations can apply to be non-profits. Almost none should be granted one.

I think that the problem you have is likely within the process.  They all do apply to be non profits, but there's a special streamlined application for them, and almost all are granted one immediately.  Also, they don't have the same burden of proof that others do.


I don't think most of them are non-profits, so I doubt they'd pass a real process.
2012-11-15 12:51:49 PM  
2 votes:

EatHam: GAT_00: Remove the tax exemption.

For all non profits, or are you going to say that no religious organization is allowed to be categorized as non profit?


Religious organizations can apply to be non-profits. Almost none should be granted one.
2012-11-15 12:28:28 PM  
2 votes:
That Jesus associated with a tax collector and recruited him to be a disciple was quite shocking in Biblical times, since tax collectors were considered to be only slightly above prostitutes on the social scale.

Least you think the IRS were the original "most hated"....
2012-11-15 12:27:04 PM  
2 votes:

EatHam: Weaver95: if the law wasn't broken, then the pastors will have a chance to prove that fact.
 
I'm not sure that you're placing the burden of proof properly.


this IS the IRS we're talking about....
2012-11-15 12:17:31 PM  
2 votes:

kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.


I believe that would be a "Writ of Mandamus".
2012-11-15 12:17:15 PM  
2 votes:

kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.


This was my thought - who would have standing to bring this suit, exactly?
2012-11-17 03:26:54 PM  
1 votes:

abb3w: relcec: it's unconstitutional to require any of them to give up constitutionally guaranteed rights in order to receive a benefit

As a matter of Law, current case law seems to indicate that any exemption from taxation is "a matter of legislative grace" -- even that of churches.

Thus, it's rather that the benefit is reserved to certain entities that exist in a harmonious relationship to the community at large, and that foster its "moral or mental improvement," should not be inhibited in their activities. It is within the power of Congress to determine that some groups, such as Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes (et cetera), generally have such harmonious relationship, but that such harmonious relationship is not legislatively considered to exist when a substantial part of the activities [...] is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation, or in cases where the corporate entity begins to participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

Though that leaves out some additional weasel wording on the threshold for "substantial".


What relcec fails to comprehend is that 501(c)3 status is VOLUNTARY, you have to apply for it. If you don't like the terms, then don't fill out the paperwork and pay your gott damnned taxes.
2012-11-16 04:50:20 PM  
1 votes:

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


Well it has really nothing to do with being religious and everything to do with being not for profit. A not for profit is supposed to be out to help people in some way (e.g. a church running a soup kitchen) so any revenues they bring in are not taxed because they are providing a service the government isn't. This only applies to the corporate tax (at least at the federal level. I believe most of these organizations are exempt from state taxes as well but that might vary from state to state), a person working for the organization still pays income tax.
2012-11-16 06:16:52 AM  
1 votes:

Nerdhurter: Oh, all you revolutionaries out there, the United States has a lesser number of believers than we've ever had. Probably just a coincidence that we're in dire straits economically, our children are dumber than they've ever been. Just noticing though, that we landed on the farking moon with a vast majority of our population identifying as Christians, not saying thats why we accomplished what we did but it obviously wasn't holding us back. But hey, fark it piss all over everything that came before us, Looking at our culture now compared to 50 years ago its pretty obvious we're headed towards idiocracy. At least no one will be offended when we name Lil Wayne a cultural ambassador


toughquestionsblog.com
Please note the areas that are most religious.

We landed on the moon because of science not prayer.
Lots of Christians during the dark ages though.
Moron.
2012-11-16 02:00:12 AM  
1 votes:

yousaywut: I think I'll go with just leave it alone. You don't religions cool don't like em. You think it's a good idea to rile up a bunch of religious folk well then we have an issue. Just check your history books it is always a bad idea to piss of the religious folk. always. Even when they have no logical reason the religious people can be extremely dangerous (inquisition I'm looking at you here). I think it's best to not give them an actual target.

/let sleeping dogs lie and all that.


That's how you end up in a theocracy.
2012-11-16 01:26:13 AM  
1 votes:

Bashar and Asma's Infinite Playlist: You remove the tax exempt status of even one church,


Scientology.
2012-11-16 12:21:01 AM  
1 votes:

halfof33: jso2897: halfof33: There appears to be a profound misunderstanding about what the First Amendment says.

It says:

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.

The power to tax is the power to destroy, which interferes with the free exercise and the power to regulate what is said from the Pulpit also interferes with the freedom of speech.

So, if any tax is levied on anybody, their right to free speech is being abridged? I mean, the last time I checked, I'm free to say or print or paint or sing whatever I want. But I still have to pay my taxes. Are you saying I have no freedom of speech because I have to pay taxes?
Now, if the government offered me a special deal, like churches get, where I didn't have to pay taxes if I agreed to restrict my speech in certain ways, I would either reject the deal, or, if I accepted it, I'd honor it.

Face palm. You are conflating two points. Freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I have explained that if you exercise the freedom of speech from the pulpit, you may be subject to a punitive action, I.e taxation. That is a concern.


If it's such a concern, maybe they shouldn't take the deal. They are being granted a special privilege - one that comes with a reasonable restriction. If they don't like it, they are free to pay their taxes like the rest of us, and endorse whatever politicians they choose. I don't see anything to be concerned about.
And you don't need to use snark phrases like "facepalm" - I am already aware that you dismiss those who disagree with you as stupid, I take that as a given, and expect it.
2012-11-16 12:15:45 AM  
1 votes:

beta_plus: Black Churches will mysteriously not be included in a successful lawsuit.

/Welcome to Sarajevo


As far as I know, there are no black churches in the IRS. It's a tax agency, and contains no churches. You do understand who is getting sued here, don't you? I thought you were supposed to be smarter than all us inferiors.
2012-11-15 11:44:41 PM  
1 votes:

bugontherug: ProfessorOhki: To satisfy the operational test, an organization must be operated exclusively for one or more of the following purposes:
*religious
*charitable
*scientific
*testing for public safety
*literary
*educational
*fostering national or international sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment)
*prevention of cruelty to children or animals

Interesting. I guess part of the question might revolve around how they define "religious." Can an atheist group possibly be eligible for it? What about a satanic group? What hoops do they have to jump through to qualify?

But no, I'm not really okay with that if it only applies to "religious" groups with a narrow definition. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.


Looked this up for another thread once. Link That ruling mentioned at the end is sort of interesting too.
2012-11-15 11:04:49 PM  
1 votes:
images.sodahead.com
2012-11-15 10:56:56 PM  
1 votes:

halfof33: There appears to be a profound misunderstanding about what the First Amendment says.

It says:

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.

The power to tax is the power to destroy, which interferes with the free exercise and the power to regulate what is said from the Pulpit also interferes with the freedom of speech.


So, if any tax is levied on anybody, their right to free speech is being abridged? I mean, the last time I checked, I'm free to say or print or paint or sing whatever I want. But I still have to pay my taxes. Are you saying I have no freedom of speech because I have to pay taxes?
Now, if the government offered me a special deal, like churches get, where I didn't have to pay taxes if I agreed to restrict my speech in certain ways, I would either reject the deal, or, if I accepted it, I'd honor it.
2012-11-15 09:13:18 PM  
1 votes:

This text is now purple: LasersHurt: Freedom of speech is a function of human rights. The individuals who make up the church are free to speak as they wish.

The church, itself, is a non-human entity and should be appropriately dealt with under the law.

Corporations are treated as a single entity made up of their constituent parts -- people.


This is also wrong and stupid, at least insofar as "free speech" is concerned.

People get free speech. End of story. The idea that you absolutely HAVE to include this for them to have enough "personhood" to do business is retarded. We know what has to be done for businesses to work - let them have those rights. But moneyspeech is not one of them.
2012-11-15 09:03:13 PM  
1 votes:

bugontherug: Tax exempt status is available to all non-profits, religious and secular, as it should be.


That's a conclusory statement, not an argument.

An organization that actually contributes a tangible, unconditional social benefit should have the opportunity to make the case their public benefit offsets their tax liability. Fine.

Religion, however, is a private social club. If they wish to engage in charitable giving pursuant to their religious tenants, nobody's stopping them. But if they want tax benefits, they should be required to make the same case that non-religious organizations do. No discriminating, no special rights, level playing field.

The real issue here is the IRS's discriminatory enforcement.

I comprehend the legal issue. I've lodged complaints with the IRS over this issue. Really. There are, however, more and deeper issues here than the ones that get heard in courtrooms.
2012-11-15 08:53:56 PM  
1 votes:
Tax the Churches.

Tax the Businesses owned by the Churches.

wiki.killuglyradio.com

Remember folks. There's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over.
2012-11-15 08:52:45 PM  
1 votes:

DjangoStonereaver: While I am in support of the tax-exemption for religious organizations (despite the abuse that it could
lead to), I vainly hope that this goes somewhere and that these asshat preachers who abused it lose
that status.

They won't, I'm sure, but I can pray for it, can't I?


What about politicians that abuse it? You can start with Hillary's southern drawl speech when she was running for president.

I'm more for auditing the shiat out of Mega churches and revoking tax exempt status if they don't use most of their profits to helping the people instead of being like creflo dollar and building a 40 room mansion with a fleet of luxury cars and a helipad.....
2012-11-15 08:45:11 PM  
1 votes:

ProfessorOhki: They are exempt because they're religious; not because they're charitable. If it was on their charity alone, there would be no need all the extra religion-specific language.


Yeah. Not only that, but churches get automatic exemptions merely on the basis of being churches - secular organizations have to actively apply for them.
2012-11-15 08:43:11 PM  
1 votes:

ProfessorOhki: To satisfy the operational test, an organization must be operated exclusively for one or more of the following purposes:
*religious
*charitable
*scientific
*testing for public safety
*literary
*educational
*fostering national or international sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment)
*prevention of cruelty to children or animals


Interesting. I guess part of the question might revolve around how they define "religious." Can an atheist group possibly be eligible for it? What about a satanic group? What hoops do they have to jump through to qualify?

But no, I'm not really okay with that if it only applies to "religious" groups with a narrow definition. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
2012-11-15 08:42:51 PM  
1 votes:

ProfessorOhki: Biological Ali: The real solution, of course, is to give "those folks" absolutely nothing, and to eventually use the force of government, either legislative or judicial (as with Loving v. Virginia) to bury their idiocy once and for all.

I'd agree, but when you use force on stupid people, they tend to just become violent stupid people. I prefer to just remind them that culture is already shifting. In a few generations at most they'll be a fringe minority and there's not a thing they can do about it.


There weren't any riots after Loving, and there won't be any after the Supreme Court invalidates laws against gay marriage either.
2012-11-15 08:39:31 PM  
1 votes:

jso2897: peeledpeas: I would almost rather do away with the entire concept of non-profit status in exchange for keeping free speech rights. I feel the government has come up with this nonsense for the single purpose of keeping organizations silent.

I feel that your tinfoil hat is a couple of sized too tight.


Please. Everybody knows that the government forces these churches at gunpoint to stay tax exempt. They want very badly to say refuse all that dirty free money, but they can't because there's a man from the government making them take it while literally pointing a gun at all of their heads.
2012-11-15 08:36:25 PM  
1 votes:

Elzar: Religious folks believe and act upon ridiculous beliefs which have no physical evidence or scientific proof - isn't that punishment enough?


If that's all they do, then that's fine by me. It when they want to shape the law to compel me to act upon those ridiculous beliefs as well that we start to have a problem.
2012-11-15 08:35:16 PM  
1 votes:

ProfessorOhki: Then everyone gets the same rights and we never have to hear another peep about the "sanctity of marriage." I mean, c'mon, those folks think that the sanctity comes from the guy upstairs, not from Washington anyway, right?


The problem being that "those folks" are opposed to any instance of gay people enjoying equal rights and have been opposed to instances of gay couples gaining rights that straight couples take for granted even when the word "marriage" doesn't enter the picture (visitation rights is a big one). So no, even if you make this pointless concession, you'll continue to hear plenty of "peeps" out of them.

The real solution, of course, is to give "those folks" absolutely nothing, and to eventually use the force of government, either legislative or judicial (as with Loving v. Virginia) to bury their idiocy once and for all.
2012-11-15 08:34:35 PM  
1 votes:

peeledpeas: I would almost rather do away with the entire concept of non-profit status in exchange for keeping free speech rights. I feel the government has come up with this nonsense for the single purpose of keeping organizations silent.


I feel that your tinfoil hat is a couple of sized too tight.
2012-11-15 08:25:56 PM  
1 votes:

Loadmaster: Loadmaster: Freedom of Speech. Protected political speech, specifically.

Mort_Q: No-one is saying they don't have the right to speak or endorse candidates. That is their right. It's just that doing so means they have to give up their tax-exempt status.

So you don't get freedom of speech unless you pay taxes?


You're confusing "freedom of speech" with "freedom from taxes".
2012-11-15 08:24:15 PM  
1 votes:

ProfessorOhki: Given that decision, doesn't that mean that, the religious exemption (lobbying aside) is Congress subsidizing religious institutions on the basis of them being religious institutions?


No, it's subsidizing them on the basis of engaging in certain preferred activities that Congress wants to promote like engaging in charity. There's a whole list of activities, and I don't remember what all is on it off hand. But the tax exemptions are available to religious and secular non-profits engaging in those activities alike, as they should be.

What's offensive to me about the current IRS action is that they routinely enforce those electioneering restrictions against secular groups. So by not enforcing them against these churches, they seem to be engaging in discrimination in favor of religious non-profits. I.e., the reality of going on is almost exactly the opposite of how it is being portrayed in the media. It is not religious groups being persecuted, rather, it is religious groups demanding and obtaining special rights not available to secular groups.
2012-11-15 08:17:55 PM  
1 votes:

bmihura: As a Libertarian, how about government has nothing to do with marriage?

Then all the interest would die down.

* Gay marriage? Fine.
* Divorce? Nobody pays, go your own separate ways.
* Traditional marriage? Fine.
* Marry your cat. dog, or conure? Fine.
* Transgender hermaphrodite marriage to a hallucinogenic toadstool? Fine.

Doesn't that work out well? Everybody gets what they want and nobody gets sued.


You do realize that marriage is a contract, right? The idea of government having "nothing to do" with contracts is fundamentally incoherent.
2012-11-15 07:55:21 PM  
1 votes:

Delawheredad: While there are violations of this law all the time enforcing it opens a can of worms. If one rogue pastor in a local Episcopal church breaks this rule who is responsible for the fine? The pastor violated the edicts of his parent organization so it would be unfair to hold them responsible. You also can't fine the local church because the statement was the opinion of the pastor and not necessarily the church. What do you end up with a fifty dollar fine on the rogue pastor?


No, you wouldn't hold the parent organization responsible if some local pastor violated their rules. For minor infractions, a warning might be sufficient. Repeated offenses, though, and lose that tax exempt status (the local church, not the parent). However, when the parent organization is the one running the political show, the Mormon Church and Proposition 8 for example, then you come down HARD on them. And the best way to do that is to tax the living fark out of them.
2012-11-15 07:40:28 PM  
1 votes:

bugontherug: kmramki: It's not likely to go anywhere. They will say you lack standing to sue as a taxpayer. You cannot prove likely injury to you, just because the IRS does not take away their exempt status.

Actually, the details are hazy, but I'm pretty sure there's a longstanding exception to the "injury in fact" rule for tax related Establishment Clause cases.


Yes, the taxpayer standing exception for Establishment Clause cases arose from Flast v. Cohen. But it looks like the Roberts Court significantly rolled it back in 2007. That doesn't mean it's completely gone, though.
2012-11-15 07:32:08 PM  
1 votes:

peeledpeas: I am a bit baffled as to why churches and other religious entities must give up their First Amendment right to freedom of speech simply because they are a non-profit. Does non-profit mean they have to be silent? If so, doesn't that mean every non-profit must be politically silenced? Or is it because they are religious? Is it proper, ethical or legal to silence someone simply because they are exempt from taxes? Is this some sort of pay-off to keep them silent? Don't give me that "separation of church and state" myth either because the concept cannot exist in reality in a country that supposedly has freedom of speech.


Yes, all non-profits, secular or religious, are required to refrain from electioneering to retain their tax exempt status. And the IRS routinely enforces those restrictions against secular non-profits. What the IRS is doing, and what the churches are demanding, are special rights not available to secular non-profits. The real outrage here isn't that churches are being persecuted--it is that secular groups are by virtue of the new religious privilege to retain tax exempt status while electioneering.
2012-11-15 07:26:44 PM  
1 votes:

DamnYankees: kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

This was my thought - who would have standing to bring this suit, exactly?


A secular group which has its tax exempt status revoked for electioneering should at least be able to sue to bar or reverse revocation of its tax exempt status on Equal Protection grounds. I'm not sure forcing the IRS to revoke tax exempt status for churches is on their list of available remedies though. 

Religious non-profits should not have special rights not available to secular non-profits.
2012-11-15 07:23:21 PM  
1 votes:

kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.


1) they're not talking about prosecuting them criminally, just revoking their tax exempt status, and

2) if they don't revoke their status, but they've revoked tax exempt status for secular groups, then that is unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of religiosity or lack thereof.
2012-11-15 07:19:27 PM  
1 votes:

peeledpeas: I am a bit baffled as to why churches and other religious entities must give up their First Amendment right to freedom of speech simply because they are a non-profit. Does non-profit mean they have to be silent? If so, doesn't that mean every non-profit must be politically silenced? Or is it because they are religious? Is it proper, ethical or legal to silence someone simply because they are exempt from taxes? Is this some sort of pay-off to keep them silent? Don't give me that "separation of church and state" myth either because the concept cannot exist in reality in a country that supposedly has freedom of speech.


Our lawmakers use laws to make a cultural point, hopefully about something that matters such as cheap green energy and inverters. But religion is a special soft spot for this country. A lot of people deeply want to do the right thing, take the right actions and make the world a better place. This is in their hearts, but they don't always have the resources or creativity to make it happen. So as the number of well meaning people with excess funds grows, it attracts the natural born conmen. The people who can sell anything to anybody. The best of those with the talent to sell end up in 3 places: 1) Business, 2) Politics, 3) Religion. I put them in that order to point out the exponential danger as the number increases. Some people want to make a point and others want to make a buck. The latter are the ones who are the best salesmen. They are ruining our world and need to be stopped.
2012-11-15 07:05:49 PM  
1 votes:

peeledpeas: LasersHurt: peeledpeas: I am a bit baffled as to why churches and other religious entities must give up their First Amendment right to freedom of speech simply because they are a non-profit. Does non-profit mean they have to be silent? If so, doesn't that mean every non-profit must be politically silenced? Or is it because they are religious? Is it proper, ethical or legal to silence someone simply because they are exempt from taxes? Is this some sort of pay-off to keep them silent? Don't give me that "separation of church and state" myth either because the concept cannot exist in reality in a country that supposedly has freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is a function of human rights. The individuals who make up the church are free to speak as they wish.

The church, itself, is a non-human entity and should be appropriately dealt with under the law.

Right. I'm sure there are no non-religious non-profits engaging in electioneering.

/rollseyes


... What is your point? Someone else might be being a dick, so churches can be too? They should be above any scrutiny just because they're religiously affiliated? What?
2012-11-15 07:00:06 PM  
1 votes:

peeledpeas: I am a bit baffled as to why churches and other religious entities must give up their First Amendment right to freedom of speech simply because they are a non-profit. Does non-profit mean they have to be silent? If so, doesn't that mean every non-profit must be politically silenced? Or is it because they are religious? Is it proper, ethical or legal to silence someone simply because they are exempt from taxes? Is this some sort of pay-off to keep them silent? Don't give me that "separation of church and state" myth either because the concept cannot exist in reality in a country that supposedly has freedom of speech.


Freedom of speech is a function of human rights. The individuals who make up the church are free to speak as they wish.

The church, itself, is a non-human entity and should be appropriately dealt with under the law.
2012-11-15 06:20:37 PM  
1 votes:

usernameguy: Unfortunately I think what will happen is that the electioneering statute will be ruled unconstitutional.


No one is denying free speech to churches. They simply choose to lose the privilege of not paying taxes if they endorse political candidates. If they are going to continue to allow this, then they have to allow me to write off my donation to a political campaign as tax deductible charity.
2012-11-15 06:12:25 PM  
1 votes:

foxyshadis: Weaver95: EatHam: Weaver95: anyone who gets up there and starts endorsing candidates loses their exemption. anyone who avoids politics and/or keeps it vague (i.e. not endorsing a candidate) gets to keep their exemption.

I could very well be mistaken (and I'm sure that there will be plenty of people very happy to tell me if I am), but isn't it supposed to be that way for all non profits, not just religious ones?

well yeah. problem is that we don't follow our rules that are already on the books. I just don't see the point of writing NEW rules when the ones we've got address the issue quite well. so the problem isn't with the rules...its with the IRS. why has the IRS not done it's job? is it politics? a structural issue? slow response? that's where I'd focus my attentions.

The IRS has been gutted by years of anti-tax politicians and their appointees. The less functional the IRS is, the more proof they have that it's non-functional and unfair and the more excuse they have to gut it further.


Also historically it's really hard to "prove" a crime of quality like this. Basically they have to find a long-term systemic problem, assemble a planet-sized katamari-ball of evidence and then bury the religious organization with it. Even then, it tends to lead to a plea deal where the church pays some pittance percentage of what they owe, promise to never do it again, and all is forgiven.
2012-11-15 06:07:42 PM  
1 votes:

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


To show that religion is exempt from politics and thus stop them from talking about it. That way religions can't be the deciding factor in our political atmosphere.
2012-11-15 05:34:30 PM  
1 votes:

TrollingForColumbine: My wife is Israeli (and Jewish) she is not comfortable voting in a christian church.


Why is your Israeli wife voting in an American election?
2012-11-15 05:32:18 PM  
1 votes:

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


They're non-profits (well... MOST churches are) that have at least some charitable intent. In theory, giving them a tax break

A) means you're not sucking from an empty well... the majority of American churches are far from loaded

and

B) allows them to use the money that they do have in order to carry out charitable causes.

Problem is, you have megachurch pastors and priests with exponentially more money and greed than intent to guide others to live the life as exemplified by Jesus.
2012-11-15 05:29:50 PM  
1 votes:

Ed Grubermann: TrollingForColumbine: I would also like to see polling places not in churches

Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.


Well then we should let the KKK rent out its meeting house. Perhaps the Hell's Angels have a nice alcove we could use. I hear NAMBLA has a hell of a suite at the business park.

Some things should be done in a neutral location. Public school, town hall, public arenas, library. My wife is Israeli (and Jewish) she is not comfortable voting in a christian church. I only care on principle she cares in her soul. Such feelings, though maybe illogical, may prevent some people from voting.
2012-11-15 05:28:40 PM  
1 votes:

qorkfiend: hugram: Delawheredad: hugram

The IRS should go after the obvious offenders. If they did nothing wrong, then they have nothing to worry about

So you are in favor of selective enforcement.

Sorry everyone is equal under the law. You can't enforce laws for one set of folks and ignore them for others. If you sue one church you have to sue everyone who violates the law, a practically impossible task.

For the record, I'm an atheist so I would have no problem if every church lost their exempt status, but I understand a lot of churches do good things. I'm not pushing for all of them to lose their exempt status... just the ones that violate the IRS rule.

Having said that, I wish the IRS would go after a church... any church that broke the rule. They have not gone after anybody, and that's an issue many people have, including me.

Ideally, I would like the IRS to go after all churches that broke the law, but one would be a great start.

That's the crux of the entire question. Can the government, bound by the First Amendment, revoke a legal status due to political speech or action? I think such an action would be unconstitutional.


Simply put, yes. The code offers a conditional benefit. No church is required to apply for or receive a tax exemption to be a church. you can just be a church that pays taxes. The essential crux is that these entities are either seperate from the public sphere or they are not. Sometimes yes and sometimes no is certainly attractive from the church's POV, but it isn't good policy, and does run counter to the First Amendment.
2012-11-15 05:20:42 PM  
1 votes:

EatHam: GAT_00: Religious organizations can apply to be non-profits. Almost none should be granted one.

I think that the problem you have is likely within the process.  They all do apply to be non profits, but there's a special streamlined application for them, and almost all are granted one immediately.  Also, they don't have the same burden of proof that others do.


So your saying that they are given this status based on faith?
2012-11-15 05:19:06 PM  
1 votes:

Ed Grubermann: TrollingForColumbine: I would also like to see polling places not in churches

Why? It's not an endorsement of a religion. They are simply granting the government to use a public space that is not being used that day anyway.


I'd like to see that, and churches stripped of their power to legal marry people. There is no reason to have "by the power vested in my by the state of". If you want a religious ceremony surrounding your marriage, do it; but as you are already heading to a magistrate or similar government official to get the document in the first place, why not just sign everything there in front of him and be done with it?

There is no reason to entangle a government with a religious institution at such a basic level as contract witnessing or voting.

//And it is a farce anyways. I can go to a couple of places online right now, become a minister, and have the legal right to marry people.
2012-11-15 05:10:59 PM  
1 votes:

Ragetech: You should fear the government far, far more.


You should fear them both equally. see: dark ages for references.
2012-11-15 05:09:06 PM  
1 votes:

Delawheredad: While there are violations of this law all the time enforcing it opens a can of worms. If one rogue pastor in a local Episcopal church breaks this rule who is responsible for the fine? The pastor violated the edicts of his parent organization so it would be unfair to hold them responsible. You also can't fine the local church because the statement was the opinion of the pastor and not necessarily the church. What do you end up with a fifty dollar fine on the rogue pastor?


And that's 50 bucks less the local male prostitute will be earning that month.
2012-11-15 05:07:35 PM  
1 votes:

Delawheredad: hugram

The IRS should go after the obvious offenders. If they did nothing wrong, then they have nothing to worry about

So you are in favor of selective enforcement.

Sorry everyone is equal under the law. You can't enforce laws for one set of folks and ignore them for others. If you sue one church you have to sue everyone who violates the law, a practically impossible task.


For the record, I'm an atheist so I would have no problem if every church lost their exempt status, but I understand a lot of churches do good things. I'm not pushing for all of them to lose their exempt status... just the ones that violate the IRS rule.

Having said that, I wish the IRS would go after a church... any church that broke the rule. They have not gone after anybody, and that's an issue many people have, including me.

Ideally, I would like the IRS to go after all churches that broke the law, but one would be a great start.
2012-11-15 05:06:23 PM  
1 votes:

Delawheredad: Sorry everyone is equal under the law. You can't enforce laws for one set of folks and ignore them for others. If you sue one church you have to sue everyone who violates the law, a practically impossible task.


Which is why every jaywalker gets fined.

Reductio ad Absurum is really a lame argument, dude.

Fallacious, in fact, one might say.
2012-11-15 04:53:01 PM  
1 votes:

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


Like other non-profits, religious institutions also provide a public service. Many run soup kitchens and thrift shops and support the community in small but well-meaning ways.

My church runs a thrift shop that is practically giving clothes away (and literally do in some cases). But at the same time, our priest doesn't stand up at the pulpit and tell us who to vote for or why one candidate will cause the country to go to hell in a handbasket. But we apparently seem to be in the minority.

/if they get involved in politics, tax 'em
2012-11-15 04:52:13 PM  
1 votes:

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


A misconstruction (misconstu-ing? ...whatever the correct word form is there) of Scripture.

Unless I misunderstand the Old Testament (and I am grossly simplifying and paraphrasing here), the tithe went to provide for the priests, whose labor was not a paid position.

In the New Testament, we see tax collectors - who often collected more than the State was due and pocketed the excess. We also see the Temple Tax - which Jesus paid on behalf of himself and Peter, saying to give Caesar what is Caesar and give God what is God's (the tax being Caesar's). Jesus further neither advocated the presence of nor removal (violently or otherwise) of Caesar or civil government (which is supported by taxes, just as it was in His time), telling Pilate that the authority of civil government comes from God (not necessarily the men and women who hold those offices, but the offices themselves - I think we can all agree that certain tyrants through world history were not acting in accordance with the will of any higher power, regardless of what name you give that power).

In short, if Jesus would not advocate a particular individual for political office or the removal of any individual from office, and if Jesus paid His taxes, and if we, as Christians are supposed to strive to be like Him in our thoughts and actions, then what business do we have electioneering or advocating the idea of not paying taxes?

Those who brought the lawsuit were right to do so - just as the government has no business interfering in the business of the church, so the church (as a corporate body) has no business interfering in politics.
2012-11-15 04:48:28 PM  
1 votes:

ItsJustJake: kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

Correct me if I'm wrong (which I very well may be), but I've always heard that the IRS is not the government - it's just a company that collects taxes for it. In any case, if they are blatantly ignoring people avoiding taxes illegally for political reasons, or simply not attempting to enforce the law as it is laid out, then it is an issue that must be corrected.

Why should those churches be free to break the law?


Why do people keep saying nonsense like this?

Saying the IRS is not the government? Seriously?

Yeah, some conspiracy theorists have wacky ideas like that, it's like that "sovereign citizen" bullshiat. Try telling a Federal Judge that the IRS is just a company that collects for the government and not really part of the government.

Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 certainly seems to say its part of the Federal Government.

Link IRS employees are paid on the same GS paygrades and civil service system as other Federal Employees, and get access to Federal employee benefits like Federal employee retirement and healthcare.

Link Private companies don't get to have people working for them with Federal law enforcement powers and big shiny brass badges that read "Department of the Treasury Special Agent".

The IRS even has a rebuttal for all these wacky claims: Link

From the IRS document "The Truth about Frivolous Tax Arguments":

Contention: The Internal Revenue Service is not an agency of the United States.

Some argue that the IRS is not an agency of the United States but rather a private corporation, because it was not created by positive law (i.e., an act of Congress) and that, therefore, the IRS does not have the authority to enforce the Internal Revenue Code.

The Law: There is a host of constitutional and statutory authority establishing that the IRS is an agency of the United States. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has stated "that the Internal Revenue Service is organized to carry out the broad responsibilities of the Secretary of the Treasury under § 7801(a) of the 1954 Code for the administration and enforcement of the internal revenue laws." Donaldson v. United States, 400 U.S. 517, 534 (1971).

Pursuant to section 7801, the Secretary of the Treasury has full authority to administer and enforce the internal revenue laws and has the power to create an agency to enforce such laws. Based upon this legislative grant, the IRS was created. Thus, the IRS is a body established by "positive law" because it was created through a congressionally mandated power. Moreover, section 7803(a) explicitly provides that there shall be a Commissioner of Internal Revenue who shall administer and supervise the execution and application of the internal revenue laws.

Relevant Case Law:
United States v. Fern, 696 F.2d 1269, 1273
(11th Cir. 1983) - the court declared "[c]learly, the Internal Revenue Service is a 'department or agency' of the United States."

Salman v. Dept. of Treasury, 899 F.Supp. 471, 472
(D. Nev. 1995) - the court described Salman's contention that the IRS is not a government agency of the United States as wholly frivolous and dismissed his claim with prejudice.

Young v. IRS, 596 F.Supp. 141, 147 (N.D. Ind. 1984) - the court granted summary judgment in favor of the government, rejecting Young's claim that the IRS is a private corporation, rather than a government agency.
2012-11-15 04:44:56 PM  
1 votes:

Mort_Q: Loadmaster: Freedom of Speech.

Protected political speech, specifically.


No-one is saying they don't have the right to speak or endorse candidates. That is their right.

It's just that doing so means they have to give up their tax-exempt status.


If the government repealed the tax-exempt status of churches along with the prohibition on political speech, that would probably be fine (Constitution-wise, at least; the political backlash would probably be pretty heavy). Removing legal status from specific organizations as punishment for political speech probably would not be.
2012-11-15 04:40:09 PM  
1 votes:

Loadmaster: Freedom of Speech.

Protected political speech, specifically.



No-one is saying they don't have the right to speak or endorse candidates. That is their right.

It's just that doing so means they have to give up their tax-exempt status.
2012-11-15 04:38:48 PM  
1 votes:

Weaver95: if church pastors violated the law...then there SHOULD be an investigation and face sanctions for their actions.

look, there's a process here. if the law wasn't broken, then the pastors will have a chance to prove that fact. but you can't just ignore the rules. either the IRS rules apply to everyone or they apply to none of us.


ahem.
2012-11-15 04:36:17 PM  
1 votes:

The Stealth Hippopotamus: That sounds about right to me. Other than the Scalia. I know he really likes being a judge but he is mindful of his PR. He doesn't want to go out looking like he was holding on just to hold on.


"the Scalia" will stay because of his unshakeable conviction that he, and he alone, is the only man up to the job. (This includes his fellow Justices.)

I've met the man. Disdain just oozes from him. He's not going *anywhere*.

And some men just don't retire well. My father was one of them. If he didn't get to put on the robe and sit on the bench every day he would not have known what to do with himself. He had no hobbies, wasn't a putterer (he couldn't change the wiper blades on his car, for goodness sake) but he sure ran a tight courtroom. (For the record, he was a ALJ for FERC til the day he died.)
2012-11-15 04:34:08 PM  
1 votes:
There is a group of pastors that have recorded themselves specifically endorsing a candidate and sent the recordings to the IRS. They, like the FRRS, are trying to trigger an enforcement, but for very different reasons. They're pretty confident that they can get the prohibition against political speech nullified on constitutional grounds and if I understand their argument right, they may actually pull it off.
2012-11-15 04:30:03 PM  
1 votes:
Still don't understand why religious organizations are tax-exempt anyway. They abuse the system so regularly it isn't even funny. Good on this lawsuit!!
2012-11-15 04:27:21 PM  
1 votes:

eagles95: All i know is for the weeks leading up to the election my church (which is very conservative) didn't mention politics once. But this past week had a sermon on how the country is going to hell because we here in Wisconsin elected a dirty smelly lesbian to serve in the Senate and how this is the downfall of America. We were then told that gay people are just really straight people that are confused and our pastor has helped dozens of people in our congregation lead healthy straight lives when they told them they had gay thoughts. It was the same song and dance about how God doesn't hate gay people but they are going to hell unless they suppress the gay. It makes me want to send a link to the sermon to the IRS since our church puts all the sermons online for shut-ins to watch.


See, that stuffs ok by the law.

Saying "Vote for X because if you don't you'll burn in hell" is not ok. It's coercion at best, and if you believe it there is a hell and your pastor speaks for God, well, do you risk your immortal soul to vote for who you want to or vote for who your pastor says God wants you to vote for?

And that in a nutshell is why we don't allow electioneering from the pulpit.
2012-11-15 04:24:07 PM  
1 votes:
This is pretty brilliant. The government cannot make the first move against a bunch of churches because of the political atmosphere, but an outside group can force the government to do it. Churches should have to file. If they do charity, they can file for that portion of their business that is a non-profit charity. Otherwise, a church is a business. It's ridiculous that large land-holding churches don't have to pay a cent of property tax. It's absurd that pastors who build mansions for their rectory and have stretch hummers that get everything tax free. This would be a great way to raise revenue.
2012-11-15 04:23:35 PM  
1 votes:

Delawheredad: The other problem wit this law is the question of favoritism. Are you going to go after politically active inner city churches like Obama's church or are you only going after redneck southern churches? What about Louis Farrakhan calling on the U.S. to stop supporting Israel and to stop voting for candidates that support Israel? He does and has done that.

Do you take the tax exemption away from the Society of Fiends for telling its congregants to vote for anti-war candidates or pacifist issues? What if the help soldiers defect to Canada?

To enforce this law fairly you practically have to have someone attending and monitoring every church, mosque, and synagogue and NO ONE want's that.


"Society of Fiends"? Cute. Of course, the Society doesn't tell its members to do anything, since there are no priests or preachers, much less bishops among the Quakers.

How about we just blanket-enforce the prohibition on partisan political activism against ALL religious organizations in this country, period? Or they can pay their taxes -- the way all churches in countries like France pay taxes. Works for me.
2012-11-15 04:19:32 PM  
1 votes:

TrollingForColumbine: As long as they include the black churches that marched there congregations to the booths. I don't have a problem with it.


Encouraging voting =/= persuading or threatening someone to vote for a political candidate.

A simpler explanation could only be made with crayons.
2012-11-15 04:19:15 PM  
1 votes:
encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com

Approves.
2012-11-15 04:17:36 PM  
1 votes:
As long as they include the black churches that marched there congregations to the booths. I don't have a problem with it.
2012-11-15 04:14:08 PM  
1 votes:
How about we get some common sense and stop allowing anything religious tax-exempt status? It's not constitutional, and it was an implicit deal that LBJ came up with to get churches out of politics. They didn't honor their end of the deal, and it's high time they actually did something contributory.
2012-11-15 04:13:24 PM  
1 votes:
i.telegraph.co.uk

I will stop
I will stop at nothing
Say the right things
When electioneering
I trust I can rely on your vote

When I go forwards you go backwards and somewhere we will meet

Riot shields
Voodoo economics
It's just business
Cattle prods and the IMF
I trust I can rely on your vote

When I go forwards you go backwards and somewhere we will meet
2012-11-15 04:13:07 PM  
1 votes:

Loadmaster: Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?

So that the the State cannot be deemed to be establishing a (any) religion. Religious exercise does not fund (via taxes) the State. (At least that's the story I was told in school many years ago.)


The real reason is because Christians aren't so hot on the 1st amendment when it comes to stopping them from forcing THEIR religion on others. And any time a bill that might benefit Christians in this country comes along, it's basically political suicide to go against it because they will call you a communist muslim loving devil-worshiper if you do.
2012-11-15 04:12:12 PM  
1 votes:
Something else that needs to be looked into is the practice of churches (at least some of the "Hate-the-Earth" ones around here) forcing their charity cases to work as menial labor for contractors for as little as $3.00/hour.
2012-11-15 04:11:25 PM  
1 votes:
To be fair, this is more a matter of discretion than one of favoritism. The IRS tends to focus on cases where a large quantity of government revenue lies in the difference between what an organization should be paying and what it is paying. If we're talking megachurch pastors, sure, that's worth an auditor's time and revoking the exemption, but most of the offending churches are two-bit operations that don't make a profit anyhow, really.

I mean, by making them deal with real business paperwork and shiat you're punishing them for being douchebags and petty criminals, but it won't actually get the government any more money, really, and in a budget shortfall I kind of expect them to prioritize money.
2012-11-15 04:08:30 PM  
1 votes:

Spanky_McFarksalot: coeyagi: Sue the churches though, sue the churches until they're (further) back in the stone ages.

well, I'm not anti-religious even though I don't have a particular faith, I just want government and religion to leave each other alone.


I'm not anti-religious (though one might call me anti-organized religion), I just think they should be made to suffer for violating that which they know to be part of American jurisprudence and yet ran the risk of getting caught for the past 3-4 decades.

Time to pay the piper, asshats.
2012-11-15 04:07:55 PM  
1 votes:
For those late to the party (like me), the basic thrust of it is that the IRS can't enforce this particular rule without it being seen as punishing political opponents, and nobody circles the wagons like churches do. A Nixon would be vicious enough to do this, but Obama's too intent on the politics of it to really mind the effect one way or another.

Besides, he won.
2012-11-15 04:06:19 PM  
1 votes:

pute kisses like a man: Doc Daneeka: ShawnDoc: A) Does this group even have standing to sue?

The FFRF is also a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that must abide by rules against electioneering.

I think that gives them standing. Since the federal government is essentially treating them unequally, saying that tax-exempt nonprofits can't be involved in political campaigns, except for churches, since we're not going to enforce our rules when it comes to churches.

they're not treated unequally until they suffer some state action. so far, they've suffered nothing from the state


Maybe what the FFRF needs to do is get directly involved in political campaigns, endorsing candidates and so on, in order to provoke IRS action against them. Then they can argue that since churches do the same thing without penalty, the law is enforced unfairly.
2012-11-15 04:05:37 PM  
1 votes:
Why do we give religious institutions tax exemption?
2012-11-15 04:05:07 PM  
1 votes:
In another space and time, Frank Zappa nods and smiles.
2012-11-15 04:03:34 PM  
1 votes:

Delawheredad: While there are violations of this law all the time enforcing it opens a can of worms. If one rogue pastor in a local Episcopal church breaks this rule who is responsible for the fine? The pastor violated the edicts of his parent organization so it would be unfair to hold them responsible. You also can't fine the local church because the statement was the opinion of the pastor and not necessarily the church. What do you end up with a fifty dollar fine on the rogue pastor?


Nope. The church loses 501c(3) status. No fines necessarily. Probably turn it into a 501c(7) -- they won't pay taxes, but donations aren't tax deductible anymore.
2012-11-15 04:00:45 PM  
1 votes:
Isn't the Freedom From Religion Foundation also a tax exempt organization?
What are they doing getting involved in political matter like this?
2012-11-15 03:59:12 PM  
1 votes:

Delawheredad: While there are violations of this law all the time enforcing it opens a can of worms. If one rogue pastor in a local Episcopal church breaks this rule who is responsible for the fine? The pastor violated the edicts of his parent organization so it would be unfair to hold them responsible. You also can't fine the local church because the statement was the opinion of the pastor and not necessarily the church. What do you end up with a fifty dollar fine on the rogue pastor?


If their tax-free status is revoked, there is no fine or punishment - they just have to pay their taxes.
2012-11-15 03:57:58 PM  
1 votes:

kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.


Plenty of such precedents exist, where the exercised discretion ends up violating equal protection. For example, cops can't exercise their discretion and let all white folks go with a warning while ticketing all black folks.
Here, at least according to the complaint, the IRS is enforcing the prohibition against non-religious non-profits, but not enforcing it against religious non-profits, and that that's discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Frankly, I don't think it's going to be a successful suit, but at least it's a reasonable theory.
2012-11-15 03:56:17 PM  
1 votes:

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


I could be wildly wrong, but I always viewed it as the original tax break. As in "Listen, you agree to be cool and stay out of politics in this new country, and we'll be cool and not pass laws against you or tax you to operate here. Everybody just be cool."

But they're not being cool, anymore.

usernameguy: Unfortunately I think what will happen is that the electioneering statute will be ruled unconstitutional.


And then we repeal their tax break, and they can start paying in to the system they want so desperately to stick their grubby arms into.
2012-11-15 03:55:44 PM  
1 votes:

Bashar and Asma's Infinite Playlist: Doesn't matter. Even if a church ran the most transparently political campaign in history, the IRS wouldn't go near it with a ten-foot pole. You want to see the "war on religion" rhetoric amp up to eleven? You remove the tax exempt status of even one church, and you will see old people of all races rioting as fast as their Rascal scooters will let them. It would make the Tea Party seem like a fond memory with how much derp it would create.


That's why the IRS is perfect. Everyone already hates and fears them. They're not the agency America wants, but they just might be the agency America deserves.
2012-11-15 03:54:32 PM  
1 votes:
About Goddamn time
2012-11-15 03:54:28 PM  
1 votes:
meh. the Constitution does not provide for freedom from religion or freedom from being offended.

how about they sue the IRS for not getting Buffet to have his companies pay the 10 years of back taxes. That would have a bigger impact on the budget.
2012-11-15 03:50:04 PM  
1 votes:

usernameguy: Unfortunately I think what will happen is that the electioneering statute will be ruled unconstitutional.


That's still better than only churches being exempt.
2012-11-15 03:48:12 PM  
1 votes:
Good
Take the IRS's toys away, and lock them up.
And tax the churches until we all get a check from those skywizard worshipping dickwads.
You want to believe in invisible people and vote? PAY ME, assholes.
We dont' let retards vote. We don't let crazies vote.
What part about you must be of sound mind to vote do you not understand?
Tax the fark out of them and go retrofarkingactive.
Pave our highways with the gold of the stupid and nutless.
2012-11-15 03:46:58 PM  
1 votes:

halfof33: My recollection is that the US Supreme Court invalidated the IRS's audit procedures and these audits have been held in abeyance pending the establishment of new rules.


[citation needed]

They ruled recently that the limit for auditing is three years. Maybe that's what you're thinking of.
2012-11-15 03:26:30 PM  
1 votes:
They should be given the option of either paying taxes or being burnt alive in the public square.
2012-11-15 02:23:35 PM  
1 votes:

Vodka Zombie: It's pretty astounding and sick that we have to sue these morons to get them to do their jobs.


I'm guessing it's not about incompetence but rather a fear of backlash. The IRS is already hated and then to be blamed as attacking religion (which they certainly aren't)... I'm guessing they think it's not worth the headache.
2012-11-15 02:11:27 PM  
1 votes:

namatad: Weaver95: if church pastors violated the law...then there SHOULD be an investigation and face sanctions for their actions.

look, there's a process here. if the law wasn't broken, then the pastors will have a chance to prove that fact. but you can't just ignore the rules. either the IRS rules apply to everyone or they apply to none of us.

this this more THIS and only farking THIS


Doesn't matter. Even if a church ran the most transparently political campaign in history, the IRS wouldn't go near it with a ten-foot pole. You want to see the "war on religion" rhetoric amp up to eleven? You remove the tax exempt status of even one church, and you will see old people of all races rioting as fast as their Rascal scooters will let them. It would make the Tea Party seem like a fond memory with how much derp it would create.
2012-11-15 01:23:21 PM  
1 votes:

Three Crooked Squirrels: Ginsburg is ancient, 2


And was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years ago (but seems to have responded pretty well to surgery). Whether or not she lives a while longer, I suspect you're right that she won't be sticking around on the Supreme Court for very long. In fact, if it had looked like Obama was not going to be reelected, I'll bet she would've already quit.
2012-11-15 01:17:00 PM  
1 votes:

The Stealth Hippopotamus: Bashar and Asma's Infinite Playlist: It's estimated that one to three justices will retire, so you're right on that front. No hard evidence as of yet, but it's assumed that he's going to get a couple more picks. However there is evidence that he would pick liberal justices, considering he's had two picks already and they were more like Ginsburg than Scalia.

Scalia is going to wait to see how 2014 turns out but either way he's out after that.

Just my guess only


Here are SCOTUS's ages:

Link

Ginsburg is ancient, but should feel free to step down comfortably anytime in the next 4 years, and will probably do so in the next 2. I'm guessing Kennedy steps down if the Senate gets a little more conservative in 2 years. That would suit his never ending desire to be in the middle. Scalia will hold out 4 years or die trying. In fact, regardless of who is president, I have a feeling Scalia is going to die on the bench. I'm guessing Breyer will step down if he sees any swing in the electorate toward the right to avoid having to do so in an election year or under a GOP president.

/My $0.02
2012-11-15 01:11:46 PM  
1 votes:

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: I believe that would be a "Writ of Mandamus".


Mandamus is not applicable to discretionary acts, only ministerial.
2012-11-15 01:05:45 PM  
1 votes:

kronicfeld: I don't know that I want to see a precedent set whereby one can sue the government for its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.


For argument's sake, I'll say, "One man's prosecutorial discretion is another man's unequal application of the law."
2012-11-15 12:53:21 PM  
1 votes:

GAT_00: Religious organizations can apply to be non-profits. Almost none should be granted one.


I think that the problem you have is likely within the process.  They all do apply to be non profits, but there's a special streamlined application for them, and almost all are granted one immediately.  Also, they don't have the same burden of proof that others do.
2012-11-15 12:52:11 PM  
1 votes:

GAT_00: Bashar and Asma's Infinite Playlist: usernameguy: Unfortunately I think what will happen is that the electioneering statute will be ruled unconstitutional.

Would depend on how long it takes to work it's way through the courts, if it has standing. Obama is going to flip the Supreme Court sometime in a few years.

You have no proof that anyone will retire and no evidence that Obama will nominate a liberal to the bench.


It's estimated that one to three justices will retire, so you're right on that front. No hard evidence as of yet, but it's assumed that he's going to get a couple more picks. However there is evidence that he would pick liberal justices, considering he's had two picks already and they were more like Ginsburg than Scalia.
2012-11-15 12:47:04 PM  
1 votes:
img9.imageshack.us

AMEN!!
2012-11-15 12:32:48 PM  
1 votes:

usernameguy: Unfortunately I think what will happen is that the electioneering statute will be ruled unconstitutional.


Would depend on how long it takes to work it's way through the courts, if it has standing. Obama is going to flip the Supreme Court sometime in a few years.
2012-11-15 12:21:32 PM  
1 votes:

Slaxl: What's the function of exempting religion from taxes?


Prevents your local priest from also being your tax collector?
 
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