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

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    A church donating money to a political campaign is a much different thing than restricting what a pastor can say from the pulpit.

    Someone saying "This is who I am planning to vote for, and who is going to support our church", is different than saying this is who you must vote for.

    Going to a particular church is voluntary. No one is going to make you go there. No one is also going to force you to vote for a particular candidate. With the union situation you do not have a choice with that other than to quit your job. They are still not forcing you to vote for a candidate, just telling you who they want you to vote for.
    To the bolded, how is that not bothersome to you?

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    For years churches have invited and hosted political candidates (presidential, congressional, state races) in to give speeches *during* services. If you look at the coverage, many of those pastors then introduce the person with something along the lines of "I'm pleased to introduce the next ______ (fill in the office) of the United States (or their state/city.) That, to me, equals endorsement but has been taking place and allowed for decades that I'm aware of. Obviously candidates cannot go to each and every church or other non-profit to give political stump speeches. I would guess that these pastors would point to all of the examples of candidates being endorsed in person during services without repercussions as a part of their defense.

    I also am aware that candidates representing Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents have held speeches in churches *outside* of the normal "service" time as a special event for the town... either because the church offers the largest meeting space or simply by invitation. I think that these give at least an 'implied' endorsement of the candidates to that particular congregation.

    I believe the pastors do risk alienating segments of their congregation by more plainly endorsing a candidate (vs. the examples offered above of giving an explanation of their churches' belief surrounding specific issues within a campaign w/o stating a candidate's name.) It is then up to the individual whether they wish to continue attending/supporting that particular church.

    There are a number of non-profits which offer Voter Guides -- each slanted to present those items that they support by showcasing whomever they believe should be the candidate of "choice." (Again, I can think of examples from both left and right leaning organizations.)

    I would not feel comfortable with my church allowing a political candidate to speak during our Mass / service -- even if it was a candidate that I otherwise support. Ours does discuss matters of faith that at times cross paths with issues involved within campaigns, but like Jessica's experience, we have not had a specific endorsement. I do though understand though the point that Lillie makes -- in that in some instances it can seem like a game of semantics to say everything but "one that shalt not be named." LOL

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica80 View Post
    To the bolded, how is that not bothersome to you?
    I am not sure exactly what you mean? What I was saying is that, churches are not the only organisation that has influence over people that recommend who to vote for. Just as a union recommends to their members who would best represent the union, a church should have equal right to recommend to their members who would best represent the church.

    I was not saying that it should be illegal for a union to do this, but that a church should also be aloud to do it. The government should not be allowed to make laws regulating what a pastor can say from the pulpit. Period. If what the pastor or church is saying bothers you, then don't go. Find one of the other millions of churches that would suit your needs better. If it would personally bother you or you would find it distasteful is different than saying it should be illegal.

    ~Bonita~

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    Quote Originally Posted by ethanwinfield View Post
    How so? If I donate money to a church or other charity, I write it off as a donation and don't pay taxes on it. Maybe my barcket is higher/lower than yours? Or maybe because I itemize?
    Some of the money can be written off, but not all. There are plenty of people that don't itemize that are paying taxes on that money, plus there are people who donate over the limit, and people who donate that don't keep track of the money to itemize. I know I don't keep track of every time I donate $5 to something so I can put it on my tax return.
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    I think churches and preachers should preach religion, not politics. Preach about how you believe abortion is wrong, but don't preach about supporting a particular proposition. Preach about how you believe your town/state/country is being led in the wrong direction and give your reasons why, but don't speak about a particular candidate. I've never heard about churches inviting candidates to speak, and I think that is a flagrant abuse of the law. And churches should not be using their money to support any kind of political campaign or candidate, and should lose their 501(c)3 status if they do.

    Preachers are free to speak out about who they support and what propositions they support, when they are speaking as themselves and not as the pastor of a church. For example, if you are friends with Pastor John & invite him over for dinner & the conversation turns to the election, he's perfectly free to say he supports Obama because he believes health care is a human right and not a privilege of the rich. He does NOT have the right to say from the pulpit as a representative of the church that he supports Obama. He CAN say that he believes God would want everyone to have health care because Psalm 82 places direct responsibility for the well-being of the needy onto the rulers.
    Last edited by Spacers; 10-11-2012 at 02:35 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    Some of the money can be written off, but not all. There are plenty of people that don't itemize that are paying taxes on that money, plus there are people who donate over the limit, and people who donate that don't keep track of the money to itemize. I know I don't keep track of every time I donate $5 to something so I can put it on my tax return.
    If people choose not to itemize or to not meet the minimum, that's fine, that's their choice. However, if I donate $25K to my favorite politician and have to pay taxes on it, and then you donate $25K to your favorite politician but don't have to pay taxes on it because you funnelled it through your church, I'm going to call that unfair. I don't see how it could be anything but?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacers View Post
    I think churches and preachers should preach religion, not politics. Preach about how you believe abortion is wrong, but don't preach about supporting a particular proposition. Preach about how you believe your town/state/country is being led in the wrong direction and give your reasons why, but don't speak about a particular candidate. I've never heard about churches inviting candidates to speak, and I think that is a flagrant abuse of the law. And churches should not be using their money to support any kind of political campaign or candidate, and should lose their 501(c)3 status if they do.

    Preachers are free to speak out about who they support and what propositions they support, when they are speaking as themselves and not as the pastor of a church. For example, if you are friends with Pastor John & invite him over for dinner & the conversation turns to the election, he's perfectly free to say he supports Obama because he believes health care is a human right and not a privilege of the rich. He does NOT have the right to say from the pulpit as a representative of the church that he supports Obama. He CAN say that he believes God would want everyone to have health care because Psalm 82 places direct responsibility for the well-being of the needy onto the rulers.
    This is your opinion. It is not an opinion that everyone shares. The government should not and can not legislate what is preached from the pulpit.

    ~Bonita~

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    This is your opinion. It is not an opinion that everyone shares. The government should not and can not legislate what is preached from the pulpit.
    And that's your opinion. That's what's so great about the DEBATE BOARD, we all have opinions and are happy to share them. The government is giving churches a free ride by not collecting taxes on the church income, so the government should have a right to say, stay out of politics. Preach religion all you want, stay out of politics. Or pay taxes. Seems like it should be a simple choice.

    ETA: I've actually never encountered a church that preached for or against any particular candidate. Maybe that's because I attended churches that believed their followers could make their own educated decisions about such things and didn't feel the need. Or perhaps I attended churches that actually followed the law? ITA with the PP who said she wouldn't attend a church that did that. I attended church to learn about God and how to be a better person, not whom to vote for.
    Last edited by Spacers; 10-11-2012 at 03:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ethanwinfield View Post
    How so? If I donate money to a church or other charity, I write it off as a donation and don't pay taxes on it. Maybe my barcket is higher/lower than yours? Or maybe because I itemize?
    Just want to add if 70% of taxpayers don't itemize than everything those 70% of people donate has been taxed once already.

    More taxpayers claim the standard deduction than itemize: Tax Policy Center estimates that about 70 percent of taxpayers will claim the standard deduction on their 2010 tax returns.
    Who Itemizes Deductions?
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    A church donating money to a political campaign is a much different thing than restricting what a pastor can say from the pulpit.

    Someone saying "This is who I am planning to vote for, and who is going to support our church", is different than saying this is who you must vote for.

    Going to a particular church is voluntary. No one is going to make you go there. No one is also going to force you to vote for a particular candidate. With the union situation you do not have a choice with that other than to quit your job. They are still not forcing you to vote for a candidate, just telling you who they want you to vote for.
    What about like if a husband told his wife who he expected her to vote for, or parents told their young (but old enough to vote) kids who to vote for? Sure, the wife in this scenario can vote for whoever she wants once she's in the voting booth and no one will ever know, but I still think it's gross for someone to try to use their power over you to basically turn your vote into an extra vote for themselves.

    Again, I think pastors should be allowed (legally) to say whatever they want.....but it still seems like an abuse of power to me.
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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