Pastors want more say, from pulpit, in 2012 election

From CNN’s Belief Blog:

Garlow’s sermon was part of a wider effort by the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization that since 2008 has hosted Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a day when they encourage and promise to protect pastors who willfully violate the Johnson Amendment and endorse from the pulpit.
The movement is growing. While it started with 33 churches in 2008, 539 churches participated in 2011.

“We basically see Pulpit Freedom Sunday as a means of protecting a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing government censorship in any way,” said Erik Stanley, ADF’s senior legal counsel and organizer of Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

Because making your tax-free status contingent on you not interfering in politics is so onerous as to amount to censorship. Right. More people who want to benefit from the social contract of participatory democracy without having to actually pay in to it. They’re the real parasites on society, you know — the people who use loopholes to avoid paying in to benefit from the same services as everyone else.

And so far, the effort has received little to no response from the IRS. Though the agency did not respond to CNN’s request for specific numbers, according to Stanley, the majority of the messages go unnoticed and only a handful of pastors receive letters.

So, the law exists to keep non-profit orgs who receive federal grants and who are not taxed by the government from endorsing specific political parties. The religious organizations engaged in endorsing politicians from the pulpit want more rights to continue doing so.

I say give it to them.

But close that loophole first, in the most final and unequivocal way possible — make it so no religious institution is tax-exempt. There’s no reason any organization that exists today only to shape people’s minds toward a specific political party’s power (and admit it — godliness and conservatism are highly correlated) should be untaxable. The only argument you could ever make is that these religious organizations do charitable works. Make it so they cannot. Make it so they have to form a separate charitable arm and that the money can only ever flow in one direction from the earnings of the church, after tax, to the charity directly.

If no church is tax-exempt, then there’s no loophole and no need to look like the bad guy when the IRS decides to actually enforce the amendments that already exist that are being flouted so grievously. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

Pastors want more say, from pulpit, in 2012 election
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5 thoughts on “Pastors want more say, from pulpit, in 2012 election

  1. 2

    I’ve never quite understood why churches are tax-exempt anyway. I understand the practical reasons, a bunch of clergy told their sheeple to get the politicians to give churches tax exemptions. But I’ve never had explained to me the justification why the LDS Church, the largest property owner in Utah, shouldn’t pay taxes.

  2. 3

    Reclassify them as businesses and tax them accordingly

    Then you could sue them for false advertising when they can’t prove their product does what they claim

  3. 4

    Several cities are looking at rescinding the tax-exempt status of nonprofit institutions; universities in particular are being asked to make “voluntary” payments that happen to be equal to the amount of property taxes they would normally pay. The budget crunch being what it is, formalizing this arrangement is an attractive option to city planners.

    Now, I’ve worked for a university in a city that was considering this, and I was willing to have my institution pay its fair share. But what really pissed me off was that the proposed legislation rescinded the property tax exemptions for all nonprofit institutions — *except churches*.

  4. 5

    So, one of the core principles of civil disobedience is that the protesters peacefully submit to the current legal consequences of their violation of the law, since the idea of civil disobedience is to show how disproportionate the sanctions are with the action.

    So, I’m all for these pastors violating the tax regulations, and getting levied taxes as a result, and letting the public (and more importantly juries) decide if that’s a good trade-off.

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