Should Churches Have To Stay Out of Politics to Remain Tax Exempt
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Thread: Should Churches Have To Stay Out of Politics to Remain Tax Exempt

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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Default Should Churches Have To Stay Out of Politics to Remain Tax Exempt

    What Happens When a Bunch of Preachers Decide To Get Political? - Slate Magazine

    The article is too long to post here, but I encourage you to read it.

    Snipped from the article:

    Today, Oct. 7, is the fifth annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday. At least 1,500 pastors will give sermons about politics. This is raw politics, premeditated violations of the IRS's tax exemption guidelines. Their message: Come and get us. Go on. Sue us. See what happens.

    Calvary Chapel's pastor, Robert Hall, was one of the first guys into the pool. In 2008, he joined 30 other pastors and gave a political sermon. Nothing happened. (He'd given $700 to Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign, but was otherwise on the campaign sidelines.) In 2009, the number of pastors expanded, and Hall gave another sermon. Nothing. Every year he'd talk, and the IRS would ignore him. Finally, on "the Monday before Easter" this year, the IRS sent him notice it was "looking into it."

    Hall offers me the drink he usually gets after a sermon -a salted caramel mocha from the chapel's cafe, served in a Tigger mug - and pronounces the threat to be ineffective. "I just laughed at the subtlety. That's almost harassment. But apart from that they've never said a word to me."

    That's the beauty and the problem of Pulpit Freedom Day. Churches, by long-standing tax law and constitutional tradition, are tax-exempt 501c3s. They don't even have to apply for 501c3 status. They don't have to file 990 tax returns. The Obama administration has not shaken down churches; literally none of them have been prosecuted for political speech since Obama took office, since the IRS dropped a case against a pastor in Rep. Michele Bachmann's district.

    But pastors argue that the 1954 "Johnson amendment" has had a silencing effect, as Lyndon Johnson intended when he changed the law governing tax-exempt organizations. The amendment threatened revocation of status for institutions that "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." That didn't stop religious leaders from barreling into politics. One year after the amendment passed, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was leading a bus boycott in Montgomery. But today's conservative pastors pine for a time when they could mobilize their congregations without any sort of end-runs or careful wording
    .

    So what do you think; should churches be able to get involved in politics while retaining their tax exempt status?
    Last edited by Alissa_Sal; 10-10-2012 at 11:50 AM.
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  2. #2
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    I don't think it is there place and it appears it is not something they can do without possible change in their charitable status. I think they are walking a fine line.

    I don't go to church to hear them tell me who they think I should vote for just as I don't want my government to tell me what spiritual/religious practice I must practice.

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    I think Pastors should be able to preach about whatever they feel led to Preach about and that it is not the Government's business to legislate what can be said from the pulpit. If churches can not go into schools and other public places, the the government has no place telling a pastor what he can preach on.

    Let me give you an example. A pastor is preaching on "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and goes onto say that includes an unborn baby. He has EVERY right to preach that message. What most pastors I know would say at that point is "It is very important for you to vote for people who are not in support of killing innocent babies. You know who that is". Without naming a specific candidate. If that is a message that bothers you, than that is probably not the church for you.

    It is a very dangerous and unconstitutional path to start telling Pastor's what that can and can not preach about.
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    And see I think it is unconstitutional for a pastor or other authority figure (employer, mayor etc) to suggest and influence voting patterns.

    I will maintain they have the right to speak on standpoints such as prolife/pro choice whether or not I agree but not to suggest who to vote for. To me, especially for Christians that is anti-Jesus and anti-God and NOT what they would want.

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    That makes absolutely no sense. If they weren't able to influence voting patters, we wouldn't have political campaings.

    The last sentence makes even less sense. Are you trying to say that Jesus and God wouldn't want religious leaders to influence who they vote for? Cause that also doesn't make any sense.

    You should try reading the Bible or the Constitution before making such statements; it'll be easier than getting the information second hand from the Huffington Post.

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    I think churches should pay taxes unless they can prove with their financial records that their money is going to charitable works.
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    In my opinion, it is a separate debate if churches should be tax free or not. It does not and should not determine what a pastor can or can not preach about. There are many controversial topics that pastors preach about that could be limited if this precedent is set. Churches should have the right to preach anything at all without the worry that someone is going to come in and say they are going to close their doors.

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    Pastors should be able to preach on whatever they feel led to
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    Lisa
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    Mega Poster mom3girls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smsturner View Post
    I think churches should pay taxes unless they can prove with their financial records that their money is going to charitable works.
    Should charities then have to pay taxes? A lot of them have very high overhead and only a small percentage goes into the actual publics hands.
    Lisa
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    Quote Originally Posted by wlillie View Post
    That makes absolutely no sense. If they weren't able to influence voting patters, we wouldn't have political campaings.

    The last sentence makes even less sense. Are you trying to say that Jesus and God wouldn't want religious leaders to influence who they vote for? Cause that also doesn't make any sense.

    You should try reading the Bible or the Constitution before making such statements; it'll be easier than getting the information second hand from the Huffington Post.
    First off, do not assume you know what I know, what I read, have read etc. I do not read Huffpo on a regular basis so get of it and it is also not where or how I form my opinion. I am not a biblical scholar and I'll admit to it but I also think it is mostly a bunch of junk and stories and not the word of God so I choose not to read it in depth. I think if they want the government to stay out of their churches and not pay taxes then their pulpits are not the place to sway voters. It is not and should not be a political rally when you attend services. I find that disgusting.

    And yes, I do not think that those that are there (pastors, priests etc.) to help us in our religious faiths, spiritual journies what have you should be speaking about God/Jesus/religious figures from a sacred ground such as a church and also in the same token rally for a particular politician. It cheapens the word of God and his love.

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