IRS crackdown on campaigning churches

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by rbell, Jul 18, 2006.

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  1. rbell

    rbell
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    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/C/CA_IRS_CHURCHES?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-07-18-07-36-43

    I'll be interested to see if the IRS is consistent in their application of the rules. This article seems to indicate they will go after both groups who have been transgressing:

    -the primarily white suburban churches who promote republican candidates under the guise of "issues statements" and "voter guides."
    -the primarily urban black congregations whose "services" often resemble a democratic fundraiser...sometimes even having the candidates themselves deliver speeches.

    Like I say...I just hope there is consistent application of the law. Let's handle both ends of the spectrum.
     
  2. carpro

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    They should go after the NAACP for the same reasons.

    That is, if they want to apply the law evenly.
     
  3. rbell

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    agreed. I just would like to see consistent enforcement (though I'm not an IRS fan).
     
  4. Daisy

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    The NAACP is not a church - what's the basis for bringing them into this thread?
     
  5. carpro

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    They also enjoy tax exempt status while actively campaigning for democrats.
     
  6. El_Guero

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    Consistency would be nice.

    But, I still think that if lying, cheating, thieving reporters can claim freedom of the press because Baptist pastors and congregations held the line - then Baptist preachers should still be able to preach thunder from the pulpit - WITHOUT FEAR OF THE STATE RUN RELIGION.
     
  7. El_Guero

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    And the 'freedom of the press' clause came after the 'freedom of religion' clause and they BOTH came about because some stubborn Baptists held the line.
     
  8. Martin

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    Personally I believe these IRS laws, in regards to churches, are unconstitutional. The federal government does not have a right to tell churches what they can/cannot preach; providing that they are not causing harm to people.

    It amounts to government control of churches.
     
  9. StefanM

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    It's a trade-off. You agree to refrain from being political in exchange for tax-exempt status. If you agree to pay taxes, you can campaign from the pulpit all day long.
     
  10. genesis12

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    Where's the ACLU, trumpeting separation of church & state?
     
  11. Magnetic Poles

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    There you go...tax exemption for churches is state support for said churches. Give up tax exemption and you may be politically active as a church, however I don't think that is the purpose of a church.
     
  12. Hope of Glory

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    Theoretically, you can preach against right and wrong, as long as you don't campaign for an individual. However, recent rulings have determined that abortion is a political issue and not a moral issue, so churches are being threatened with loss of tax exempt status for preaching against abortion. (Homosexuality too.)

    As someone here has already pointed out, black churches are ignored by the IRS when they let democrat candidates stump from the pulpit. This needs to be consistently enforced, but issues should be able to be preached.
     
  13. Martin

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    good point

    ==That is correct. Like I said it is an unconstitutional federal control of churches.
     
  14. StefanM

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    What is unconstitutional about it? The government cannot censor or control the churches; it can only revoke tax-exempt status.
     
  15. Martin

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    They are using the IRS to censor churches free speech rights. If a church wishes to sponser a candidate, or promote a candidate, it is that church's right to do so. Any attempt by the "federal" government to censor church speech is unconstitutional.
     
  16. StefanM

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    Any church can simply choose to forego tax-exempt status and exercise its full constitutional rights. The current regulations are based on voluntarily refraining from exercising their full rights in exchange for tax-exemption.

    IMO, there would only be a constitutional violation if the government prevented the speech altogether. The option is: stop the political speech or pay the taxes you would otherwise owe.
     
  17. James_Newman

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    What taxes does a church owe?
     
  18. carpro

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    Property tax, for one. That would be a biggie for most churches.
     
  19. Revmitchell

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    There is an assumption on the part of some that money is owed to the government. Or that the government has a right to some of our monies. This is in fact not the case.

    The government does not own or control our money. Our representatives whom we elect make decisions about what to do with taxes collected in order to fund the needed and mostly not needed programs of this country.

    Non-profit organizations have been given a non-tax status because they provide a public service to the community. The money that would have been otherwise collected for taxes on the property of the tax exempt organization does not belong to the government. it belongs to that community without ownership or interference from the governement.

    The idea that a particular tax exempt organization has to speak or not speak in any certain way is an infringement on the free speech civil rights of Americans.

    Again the monies not collected from a tax exempt organization do not belong to the government. They belong to that community and those people who choose to take part in the services provided by that tax exempt organization.

    Therefore, this regulation that tax exempt organizations are limited in speech is an infringement on free speech. This is a herendous civil rights violation.
     
  20. StefanM

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    1) The law of the land decrees that taxes must be paid unless the revenue is exempted by law. You may not believe that the government has a right to some of your money, but the law says it does. If you fight the law, the law will win.

    2) Non-profit organizations are allowed to be tax-exempt as long as they are not political. If churches were allowed to be political, what would prevent the GOP or Democratic Party from establishing itself as a church?

    3) You are correct in saying that the tax-exempt money does not belong to the government. However, the money is only tax-exempt if certain conditions are met. If a church does not want to have any limitation on political speech, it is free not to pursue tax-exempt status and to pay the taxes that non-exempt organizations pay.

    4) We are actually very lucky that churches are tax-exempt. Honestly, I'm surprised that churches haven't been required by the SCOTUS to pay taxes on the grounds that giving religious institutions a tax exemption could violate the establishment clause.

    BOTTOM LINE: You cannot renege on the deal with the government over tax-exempt status. Either you play by the rules and refrain from politics, or you pay your taxes. IMO, this is perfectly constitutional because the tax-exempt status is voluntary, and the taxes would not be punitive (i.e. they would be calculated in the same way as taxes for any other non-exempt organization).
     
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