Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

Moderators: Zamfir, Hawknc, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Lazar
Landed Gentry
Posts: 2151
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm UTC
Location: Massachusetts

Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Lazar » Sun Sep 26, 2010 8:14 am UTC

From ABC News:

Nearly 100 pastors across the country planned to take part in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an in-your-face challenge Sunday to what the government says can and cannot be said in church.

The pastors, along with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based nonprofit Alliance Defense Fund, are reacting to a law stating that churches are not allowed to support politicians from the pulpit, according to the ADF.

The growing trend is a challenge to the IRS from the churches, and may jeopardize their all-important tax-exempt status. But some pastors and church leaders said they are willing to defy the law to defending their right to freedom of speech.

Federal tax law, established in 1954, prohibits churches and tax exempt entities from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

...

"We believe that a pastor has a right to speak whatever he believes without fearing the government will somehow censor what he says or threaten to take away his tax exemption," ADF spokesman Erik Stanley said.

Emphasis mine for critical logic failure - they want to engage in political advocacy, and they want an arbitrary privilege which depends on their not engaging in political advocacy. For my part, I think churches should be able to endorse whichever candidates and policies they like, and I think they should be taxed like everybody else.
Exit the vampires' castle.

User avatar
Lucrece
Posts: 3558
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:01 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Lucrece » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:00 am UTC

With their income, churches should not be tax exempt. Much less so when they're getting special treatment while preaching the screwing over of certain contingents in the U.S. population they don't like/approve of.
Belial wrote:That's charming, Nancy, but all I hear when you talk is a bunch of yippy dog sounds.

User avatar
Gelsamel
Lame and emo
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:49 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:33 am UTC

Is there any good argument as to why they shouldn't pay taxes?
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

User avatar
Diadem
Posts: 5654
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:03 am UTC
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Diadem » Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:15 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Is there any good argument as to why they shouldn't pay taxes?

Because the constitution explicitly forbids it?

Wait, that's a reason against. Let me try again. Because the US is a theocracy?
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
- Bernard Woolley in Yes, Prime Minister

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Vaniver » Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:37 pm UTC

So, a church deserves a tax exemption as much as most of the other non-profits that get one. At most it should be bumped from 501(c)(3) to 501(c)(7).

I think the government has a legitimate purpose in subsidizing non-profit organizations; I don't think the government has a legitimate purpose in restricting the political speech of anyone but its employees. Under current law, the church should be able to (and have to) pick between political advocacy and tax exemption, but those laws do not strike me as appropriate laws.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

Zauderer
Posts: 96
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 6:47 pm UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Zauderer » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:32 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:So, a church deserves a tax exemption as much as most of the other non-profits that get one.


And what about for-profit churches, like Scientology?

User avatar
Gelsamel
Lame and emo
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:49 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:50 pm UTC

What, exactly, is the definition of profit? Don't most churches get heaps of money, and some even larger ones sell DVDs of seminars and other stuff (or even merchandise).
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

User avatar
Robert'); DROP TABLE *;
Posts: 730
Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:46 pm UTC
Location: in ur fieldz

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Robert'); DROP TABLE *; » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:56 pm UTC

I think the distinction of profit vs. non-profit is where the money goes rather than generating it at all. A non-profit does not give money to any sort of shareholder, and has to re-invest it all in the business. (Your Laws May Vary)

And it looks like he's trying to have a cake and eat it too. I don't really see any reason for granting tax exemptions to religious organizations specifically.
...And that is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped.

Bright Shadows
Posts: 645
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:56 pm UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Bright Shadows » Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:18 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:What, exactly, is the definition of profit? Don't most churches get heaps of money, and some even larger ones sell DVDs of seminars and other stuff (or even merchandise).

<_< Uh. You clearly have a skewed image of church income, man. A lot of churches, including the one I attend, are small, have practically no money, and are at best keeping up with the rent. Cathedrals and megachurches are not all there is to church.

Average church budget according to some magazine and the people who receive it is $380,000 a year. With staff, rent, utilities, etc, that amounts to pretty much jack.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/yc/200 ... 7.136.html

If it's off, as such things are wont to be, even if we go with $450,000, it's not exactly like they're rolling in money.
Image

User avatar
netcrusher88
Posts: 2166
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:35 pm UTC
Location: Seattle

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby netcrusher88 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:46 pm UTC

Zauderer wrote:And what about for-profit churches, like Scientology?

Last time we tried to tax them they launched a campaign of blackmail and espionage. I wish I was exaggerating but I am if anything understating their tactics. Scientology is a movie mafia-grade criminal organization when they want to be.

Speaking of criminal organizations, given there hasn't even been so much as a whisper about the Mormon church losing tax-exempt status for their illegal politicking in the Yes on 8 campaign I don't see anything happening to a bunch of individual ministers engaging in some civil disobedience. Some further fishing through wikipedia and such seems to indicate politicking from the pulpit to be a kind of legal gray area so long as you aren't referring to individual candidates... maybe someone could clarify that?
Sexothermic
I have only ever made one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it. -Voltaire
They said we would never have a black president until Swine Flu. -Gears

PeterCai
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby PeterCai » Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:59 pm UTC

shouldn't we just consider churches non-profit interest groups and be done with it? if other interest groups are taxed, then tax churches, if not, then what are the legal basis for taxation here?

User avatar
Levi
Posts: 1294
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:12 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Levi » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:23 pm UTC

I've not thought enough about it to make up my mind, but I don't think it would be possible to change it any time soon. There'd be huge outrage. The church would trot out the "They're persecuting us!" card and it would probably work. This is my expert layman's assessment.

User avatar
netcrusher88
Posts: 2166
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:35 pm UTC
Location: Seattle

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby netcrusher88 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:25 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:shouldn't we just consider churches non-profit interest groups and be done with it? if other interest groups are taxed, then tax churches, if not, then what are the legal basis for taxation here?

There are very tight limits on politicking performed by any 501(c)(3) organization. PACs exist under § 527, not 501.
Sexothermic
I have only ever made one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it. -Voltaire
They said we would never have a black president until Swine Flu. -Gears

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Vaniver » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:48 pm UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:Speaking of criminal organizations, given there hasn't even been so much as a whisper about the Mormon church losing tax-exempt status for their illegal politicking in the Yes on 8 campaign I don't see anything happening to a bunch of individual ministers engaging in some civil disobedience. Some further fishing through wikipedia and such seems to indicate politicking from the pulpit to be a kind of legal gray area so long as you aren't referring to individual candidates... maybe someone could clarify that?
Restrictions on politicking all come from campaign-finance legislation. Merely discussing politics or current issues ("I'm sorry, you can't mention evolution or creationism while being a non-profit") would go so far beyond the already flagrantly unConstitutional laws that no one has tried it.

What law did you think the Mormon church was breaking, again?

[edit]I should be clearer- I'm primarily aware of electoral campaign finance law. There may be laws about referenda I am unaware of, and would like to know about if they exist.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

jareds
Posts: 436
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:56 pm UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby jareds » Sun Sep 26, 2010 8:10 pm UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:There are very tight limits on politicking performed by any 501(c)(3) organization. PACs exist under § 527, not 501.

Exactly. The interesting issue isn't whether the churches are tax-exempt: practically any organization other than an actual business can be tax-exempt. It's 501(c)(3) status in particular that places stringent limits on political activity, and the great advantage of 501(c)(3) status over all others is that donors can deduct contributions from their income as charitable contributions.

Churches can certainly be political advocacy organizations and benefit from tax exemption. They can even be organized as separate but affiliated organizations, like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, both tax-exempt but only the former tax-deductible, where donations to the former do not support the latter. What they cannot do is have a single organization act as both a political advocacy organization and a charitable organization. It's all quite reasonble.

engr
Posts: 322
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 3:08 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby engr » Sun Sep 26, 2010 8:17 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:Emphasis mine for critical logic failure - they want to engage in political advocacy, and they want an arbitrary privilege which depends on their not engaging in political advocacy.


If anything, it's the opposite now. There are tax-exempt organizations which are allowed to engage in political advocacy. Churches, though, cannot do that.
Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions. Gilbert K. Chesterton

User avatar
aleflamedyud
wants your cookies
Posts: 3307
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:50 pm UTC
Location: The Central Bureaucracy

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby aleflamedyud » Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:44 pm UTC

Robert'); DROP TABLE *; wrote:And it looks like he's trying to have a cake and eat it too. I don't really see any reason for granting tax exemptions to religious organizations specifically.

To stop the government from using taxes to favor or disfavor religions.
"With kindness comes naïveté. Courage becomes foolhardiness. And dedication has no reward. If you can't accept any of that, you are not fit to be a graduate student."

User avatar
Lazar
Landed Gentry
Posts: 2151
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm UTC
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Lazar » Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:54 pm UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:To stop the government from using taxes to favor or disfavor religions.

But the government is using tax policy to favor religions over other things.
Exit the vampires' castle.

User avatar
BlackSails
Posts: 5315
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:48 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby BlackSails » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:15 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote:To stop the government from using taxes to favor or disfavor religions.

But the government is using tax policy to favor religions over other things.


How so? Nonreligious nonprofits are also tax exempt

User avatar
aleflamedyud
wants your cookies
Posts: 3307
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:50 pm UTC
Location: The Central Bureaucracy

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby aleflamedyud » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:54 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote:To stop the government from using taxes to favor or disfavor religions.

But the government is using tax policy to favor religions over other things.

You misunderstand. I didn't mean religions versus other nonprofits. I meant one religion over another.

If you ban buildings that are so-and-so high with such-and-such an architectural style for interfering with your city's aesthetic, after all, have you really discriminated against Muslims? YES!
"With kindness comes naïveté. Courage becomes foolhardiness. And dedication has no reward. If you can't accept any of that, you are not fit to be a graduate student."

Le1bn1z
Posts: 832
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:27 pm UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Le1bn1z » Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:23 am UTC

The reasons for no taxes on churches and the reasons for no politics and chruches are the same:

Seperation of church and state.

In 1776, in the dying days of relgioius strife, the wars of religion were still fresh in the mind of legislators and ordinary people alike. It was the practice of some states to use taxes as a means of preventing churches from functioning. Before the formal revocation of the Edict of Nantes, for example, restrictive taxes and regulations were used to extinguish protestant worship in swaths of France. Britian in 1776 was still using punitive taxes against Catholics, particularily the Church in Ireland.

Americans, in particular, would have been cogniscant of the English Civil War, which was the great historical elephant in the way that WWII is for us today. The horrors of Cromwell's Protectorate and the dangers of allowing churches to become political and, when they did exercise real power, to use the state to persecute other churches, was still fresh in everyone's mind.

The compromise eventually reached was that states would butt out of the business of messing with churches. For their part, churches vowed to stop trying to overthrow the state, institute international theocracies or otherwise use the pulpit for political ends.

Hence the compromise which exists today.

Ironically, the anti-clerical movement's demand that churches relinquish tax exemption is proof of the relatively beneign political nature of contemporary religion, rather than an attack against real power.

Doubly ironically, the fundies seem to lack understanding as to why they aren't allowed to preach politics from the pulpit. Its not to protect the state, but the church, to prevent one church from becoming dominant and attacking the others. One-church pastors would be wise to remember that point.
Krong writes: Code: Select all
transubstantiate(Bread b) {
Person p = getJesusPersonInstance();
p.RenderProperties = b.RenderProperties;
free(b);
}

User avatar
22/7
I'm pretty sure I have "The Slavery In My Asshole" on DVD.
Posts: 6475
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 3:30 pm UTC
Location: 127.0.0.1

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby 22/7 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:42 am UTC

It's my understanding that churches gained their current tax-exempt status (in the US, of course) essentially in exchange for keeping their mouths shut when it came to politics. Seems to me like a pretty good deal and very much in keeping with the Constitution. I'm sure someone honestly believes that that's an infringement on their first amendment rights, but lots of people believe things that aren't true, why should people who believe that something they can't see, hear, smell, taste or feel is an integral part of their life be any different?
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

User avatar
Lucrece
Posts: 3558
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:01 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Lucrece » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:07 am UTC

Except it's been a pretty long time since they've kept their mouths shut around politics. The Religious Right s thriving now more than ever.
Belial wrote:That's charming, Nancy, but all I hear when you talk is a bunch of yippy dog sounds.

The Mighty Thesaurus
In your library, eating your students
Posts: 4399
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:47 am UTC
Location: The Daily Bugle

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:26 am UTC

The Religious Right isn't representing Christianity in an official capacity. These pastors want to pontificate from the pulpit.
LE4dGOLEM wrote:your ability to tell things from things remains one of your skills.
Weeks wrote:Not only can you tell things from things, you can recognize when a thing is a thing

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam

User avatar
Gelsamel
Lame and emo
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:49 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:48 am UTC

Bright Shadows wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:What, exactly, is the definition of profit? Don't most churches get heaps of money, and some even larger ones sell DVDs of seminars and other stuff (or even merchandise).

<_< Uh. You clearly have a skewed image of church income, man.


Maybe, I suppose. For more than half of my life I went to very small church but everyone was encouraged to give tithes and denigrated if you didn't, even if you were poor (hell, sometimes even moreso since it was considered fairly 'Jesus-like' to give despite needing the money). They had a fairly decent 'profit' margin and I figured it was the same for most other churches, but maybe mine was unique?
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

User avatar
Plasma Man
Posts: 2035
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:27 am UTC
Location: Northampton, Northampton, Northampton middle England.

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Plasma Man » Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:07 pm UTC

So, what happens if people set up the God Party, Jesus Party and The Lord party? Churches would have a pretty hard time trying to carry on without expressing support for any of those.
Please note that despite the lovely avatar Sungura gave me, I am not a medical doctor.

Possibly my proudest moment on the fora.

johnny_7713
Posts: 555
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:31 pm UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby johnny_7713 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:41 pm UTC

Plasma Man wrote:So, what happens if people set up the God Party, Jesus Party and The Lord party? Churches would have a pretty hard time trying to carry on without expressing support for any of those.


The Netherlands has three Christian parties, and churches over here seem to get on fine without telling people to vote for one of them. There's also a big difference between preaching certain values (that happen to coincide with those of a political party) and preaching that you will go to hell if you don't vote for candidate X or party Y.

Роберт
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Роберт » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:53 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:It's my understanding that churches gained their current tax-exempt status (in the US, of course) essentially in exchange for keeping their mouths shut when it came to politics. Seems to me like a pretty good deal and very much in keeping with the Constitution.

Free speech isn't exactly free if you have to pay more money to get it.
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.

User avatar
Dauric
Posts: 3989
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:58 pm UTC
Location: In midair, traversing laterally over a container of sharks. No water, just sharks, with lasers.

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Dauric » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:56 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
Bright Shadows wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:What, exactly, is the definition of profit? Don't most churches get heaps of money, and some even larger ones sell DVDs of seminars and other stuff (or even merchandise).

<_< Uh. You clearly have a skewed image of church income, man.


Maybe, I suppose. For more than half of my life I went to very small church but everyone was encouraged to give tithes and denigrated if you didn't, even if you were poor (hell, sometimes even moreso since it was considered fairly 'Jesus-like' to give despite needing the money). They had a fairly decent 'profit' margin and I figured it was the same for most other churches, but maybe mine was unique?


Nope not unique in that regard. My dad grew up poor in Florida and one weekend at the insistence of his fire-and-brimstone grandmother attended one with a similar financial ethic, that Sunday as he puts it they "stole his lunch money", rather literally since all the money he had was to buy lunch that week, and he's been an atheist ever since.
We're in the traffic-chopper over the XKCD boards where there's been a thread-derailment. A Liquified Godwin spill has evacuated threads in a fourty-post radius of the accident, Lolcats and TVTropes have broken free of their containers. It is believed that the Point has perished.

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26516
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:00 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:
22/7 wrote:It's my understanding that churches gained their current tax-exempt status (in the US, of course) essentially in exchange for keeping their mouths shut when it came to politics. Seems to me like a pretty good deal and very much in keeping with the Constitution.

Free speech isn't exactly free if you have to pay more money to get it.
Well.. not exactly, no.

See, as far as I know at least, the Pastor's allowed to be involved in whatever political rallies he or she wants to be involved in. They're allowed to put signs in their yard, and to tell whomever, even their parishioners, that they're voting for Candidate X because of Y. What they're not allowed to do is state such things while also performing in their profession as Religious Leader.

And you can still say a whole hell of a lot in your capacity as a Religious Leader without explicitly ever saying "Vote for Candidate X."

They want to be able to say "Vote for Candidate X."

Fuck them. Last thing I want to hear is how Candidate Y is dragging our God Fearin' Nation straight to Hell.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

The Mighty Thesaurus
In your library, eating your students
Posts: 4399
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:47 am UTC
Location: The Daily Bugle

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:05 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:Free speech isn't exactly free if you have to pay more money to get it.

Free as in freedom, not as in beer.
LE4dGOLEM wrote:your ability to tell things from things remains one of your skills.
Weeks wrote:Not only can you tell things from things, you can recognize when a thing is a thing

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam

Роберт
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Роберт » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:21 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:...
Good point. :)
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.

H2SO4
NOCTUNICUS, LORD OF SLEEP
Posts: 931
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 6:36 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby H2SO4 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:51 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:Speaking of criminal organizations, given there hasn't even been so much as a whisper about the Mormon church losing tax-exempt status for their illegal politicking in the Yes on 8 campaign I don't see anything happening to a bunch of individual ministers engaging in some civil disobedience. Some further fishing through wikipedia and such seems to indicate politicking from the pulpit to be a kind of legal gray area so long as you aren't referring to individual candidates... maybe someone could clarify that?
Restrictions on politicking all come from campaign-finance legislation. Merely discussing politics or current issues ("I'm sorry, you can't mention evolution or creationism while being a non-profit") would go so far beyond the already flagrantly unConstitutional laws that no one has tried it.

What law did you think the Mormon church was breaking, again?

[edit]I should be clearer- I'm primarily aware of electoral campaign finance law. There may be laws about referenda I am unaware of, and would like to know about if they exist.

Last I heard, someone tried trying the LDS Church about their funding of Prop 8 and it got shut down. Also, as far as I know, all the LDS Church claimed it donated was a couple thousand dollars in kind, which was in the form of flying a high-ranking official to California to talk to a congregation about it.

Also, something I will point out, except in extreme moral cases like the one above the LDS Church never tells its members to vote X or Y. The most they say is "Vote for what you feel is right."
But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

Kyrn
Posts: 937
Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:55 pm UTC
Location: The Internet

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Kyrn » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:48 am UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:
Роберт wrote:Free speech isn't exactly free if you have to pay more money to get it.

Free as in freedom, not as in beer.

Yeah, freedom for those who have money!
I am NOT a snake.

Opinions discussed are not necessarily the opinions of the people discussing them.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Vaniver » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:38 pm UTC

Kyrn wrote:Yeah, freedom for those who have money!
You don't need money to use your lungs, vocal cords, and mouth.

Oh, you wanted mass speech? Well, that costs money because it takes effort to do. And that's fair and sensible.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

Levelheaded
Posts: 185
Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Levelheaded » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:30 pm UTC

Plasma Man wrote:So, what happens if people set up the God Party, Jesus Party and The Lord party? Churches would have a pretty hard time trying to carry on without expressing support for any of those.


What makes you think that all churches would accept that the 'God' or 'Jesus' or 'The Lord' party represents them and their religion?

When I was a kid, the various Christian churches in my town had enough trouble working together to decide where to hold their annual interfaith services. Throw in politics and you will quickly see that different churches (even within the same denomination) don't see eye to eye.

I would guess there would quickly be a 'Baptist God Party', a 'Methodist Jesus Party', a 'Lutheran The Lord Party', etc...and then in the process of determining the parties position you would end up with a 'Baptist God Party' a 'Reformed Baptist God Party' a 'Southern Baptist Reformed Jesus Party', etc.

Since each of these parties would steal votes from the Republican party (at least, steal more votes than from Democrats) the whole idea would be counterproductive.

For bonus points, picture the 'Catholic Party', the 'Jewish Party', or (for real fun) the 'Islam Party' winning a few elections to promote their religious agenda. This definitely isn't the first time that outcome was considered - and it wasn't considered humorous. Heck, people said that the election of JFK would basically make the agenda of the United States the agenda of the Catholic Church just because he was catholic.

Not that this hasn't happened in the past. Read up on the Mormon Wars. Basically, the Mormons formed an influential party that voted as a bloc. If you can't guess from the whole Mormon 'Wars' thing, people didn't like that much and drove them out to Utah.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Vaniver » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:49 pm UTC

Levelheaded wrote:What makes you think that all churches would accept that the 'God' or 'Jesus' or 'The Lord' party represents them and their religion?
Plasma Man's point, as I understood it, was that if, say, Jesus Christ were to run for office, Christian churches would have to omit use of his name during the campaign season, which would be troublesome.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
sourmìlk
If I can't complain, can I at least express my fear?
Posts: 6393
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:53 pm UTC
Location: permanently in the wrong
Contact:

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:01 pm UTC

To me this seems like yet another attempt by religious fundamentalists to abolish the separation between church and state. In other words: they can keep whining, but it doesn't really bother me as the constitution directly and explicitly forbids what they're whining about.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Vaniver » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:27 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:To me this seems like yet another attempt by religious fundamentalists to abolish the separation between church and state. In other words: they can keep whining, but it doesn't really bother me as the constitution directly and explicitly forbids what they're whining about.
Have you... read the Constitution?

Because insomuch as it discusses the issue, it directly and explicitly forbids what the government is doing- abridging the freedoms of speech, press, and petition. Both methods- campaign finance laws that prevent non-registered groups from spending significantly on "political speech" and taxation laws that do not tax groups that sell their ability to speak politically- are problematic.

(Though, as said before, there is a legitimate argument for not taxing non-profit groups, taxing groups that are non-profit but speak politically is an abridgment of those rights.)
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

Роберт
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Re: Pastors want free speech and tax exemptions

Postby Роберт » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:40 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:To me this seems like yet another attempt by religious fundamentalists to abolish the separation between church and state. In other words: they can keep whining, but it doesn't really bother me as the constitution directly and explicitly forbids what they're whining about.
Have you... read the Constitution?

Maybe he is viewing the rulings of certain courts, which allegedly interpret the laws and constitution rather than making things up, as more valid interpretations than how an average person would interpret the constitution?
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.


Return to “News & Articles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 16 guests