Conservative Alert Issue

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by I Am Blessed 24, May 20, 2003.

  1. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    CONSERVATIVE ALERT ISSUE: Ever heard of the First Amendment? Apparently, it doesn't apply if you're in church.

    There are limits to what your preacher can say from the pulpit -- limits placed there by the government. Now, a bill introduced in Congress seeks to change the law.

    If a church speaks out on issues that the IRS deems to be too political, it risks losing its tax-exempt status. But the "Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act" (H.R. 235) would repeal the authority of the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax status of a church, temple, or mosque whose clergy speak out.

    Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who introduced the bill, explained how the problem of churches speaking out on political issues arose.

    "Lyndon Johnson in 1954 put an amendment on a revenue bill that stifled the ministers, priests and rabbis from being able to speak of moral and political issues," Jones said. "That's not what
    America's about. America's about freedom. And we've got to have freedom in the churches."

    He said Johnson's amendment has had a chilling effect that fails to define where their speech is actually protected. He also contended the restrictions have not been impartially enforced.

    "I think all churches should be treated the same," Jones said. "They should have freedom to talk about these issues."

    ACTION ITEM: All houses of worship SHOULD be treated the same. They should have freedom to talk about any issues affecting any aspect of society -- including politics. Anything else is simply un-American.

    As Rep. Jones stated, "This legislation goes beyond party lines and theological debates. We must not allow a government institution to have this kind of chilling effect over America's
    churches."

    Rep. Jones' bill is supported by religious leaders from all faiths, and he now has over 120 co-sponsors on this simple straightforward legislation that will finally give back to
    churches and other houses of worship what was unjustly taken from them 49 years ago: the freedom to speak however they feel led to speak, whether the issue is construed as political or not.

    Go to our site below to ask your Representative to support H.R. 235, the "Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act":

    CLICK HERE

    [​IMG]
    Sue
     
  2. PJ

    PJ
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    Thanks for sharing, Sue. That's news to me!
    PJ [​IMG]
     
  3. stubbornkelly

    stubbornkelly
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    Churches have all the free speech they want. If they choose tax exempt status, they have to abide by the rules, just like all other 501c3 organizations. Such rules do not gag the churches or clergy from speaking on political topics. However, if they start with too much lobbying, they can lose their status, just like all other 501c3 organizations.

    Tax exempt status is a benefit, not a right, and churches don't have to choose to take it.
     
  4. InHim2002

    InHim2002
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    But those rules only apply if the church has charitable status ie if they get a tax break from the government - if they do not have charitable status they can do whatever they like.

    If the government is effectively providing them with a subsidy I see no reason why they can't also require certain standards of behaviour.
     
  5. j_barner2000

    j_barner2000
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    but does the gag order apply equally to all tax-exempt orgs. including planned parenthood etc... I can tell you that planned parenthood is eligable under the 501c3 and they are very politically active.
     
  6. bobfrgsn

    bobfrgsn
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    PP promotes its agenda. Planned parenthood, abortion education, contraceptive education, etc ... in other words it does what it is set up to do ... Name me one church that has been prevented from preaching the gospel by the government. Promoting ones purpose is not politcal per se.
     
  7. Rev. Joshua

    Rev. Joshua
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    Planned Parenthood (like Focus on the Family) has a 501c3 educational arm and a 501c4 advocacy arm.

    Joshua
     
  8. Johnv

    Johnv
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    There's a bit of confusion here. This is not a free speech issue.

    First, a church is not required to file any sort of tax exempt status. It automatically receivs such from the IRS. In order to do so, it must operate as a place of worship.

    When a church begins to engage in political issues, such as endorsement of candidates, organization of lobbying, etc, it ceases to be a church and becomes a political organization. In order to keep its exempt status, it will need to file for 501c3 tax exempt status as a charitable not-for-profit organization. This is true of all not-for-profits. Many churches I've attended have a 501c3 charitable status, even though they technically don't require one. My bank (credit union) is a non-profit org, and they have to do the same thing.

    An example of this is the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army Church, which is a house of worship, is not required to file any sort of tax exempt status. However, the folks with the red buckets that you see, they fall under the Salvation Army Charities, which has filed as a 501c3 chartiable organization, not a church. Your donations to the red bucket don't go to supporting the Salvation Army Church. They go to supporting the Salvation Army Charities, which outreach the community.

    Habitat for Humanity is another example. They're a religious organization, but not a church. Therefore, they must file for 501c3 exempt status.

    Rev Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church is a church are does not require filing of a tax exempt status to be tax free. However, the Old Time Gospel Hour is not a church, it's a not-for-profit televised program, which requires a 501c3 filing.

    Am I beating a dead horse yet??
     
  9. stubbornkelly

    stubbornkelly
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    Beat me to it. [​IMG]

    And actually, no one has to file for 501c3 status. It's not required. A not-for-profit could choose not to file. Being a not-for-profit company has nothing to do with tax status, and everything to do with how financial operations are handled.
     

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