Should Churches Have To Stay Out of Politics to Remain Tax Exempt - Page 7
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Thread: Should Churches Have To Stay Out of Politics to Remain Tax Exempt

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    It is telling them what they can preach on. And it is what is happening here. These pastors are saying "I don't care if you take my tax exemption away, I don't care if you arrest me, but you can not tell me what to preach."

    It is not that anyone is saying you must vote for so and so and if you don't we are going to break your arm. What they are saying is "Here are the candidates that are running for office. This is what each candidate believes on each issue. This is what we believe on this issue. Candidate A will not support our mission but Candidate B will."
    It is NOT telling them what to preach. It is simply saying you cannot advise your congregation on who to vote on while performing a service.

    Now, for example, if I was to go visit my local priest, say invite him for dinner because I had some moral questions for him and wanted his opinion on it and how it relates to my vote then it is okay. He's speaking to me and answering on his own accord and helping me form a decision. I still wouldn't expect him to say well you need to vote for X.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    It is telling them what they can preach on. And it is what is happening here. These pastors are saying "I don't care if you take my tax exemption away, I don't care if you arrest me, but you can not tell me what to preach."

    It is not that anyone is saying you must vote for so and so and if you don't we are going to break your arm. What they are saying is "Here are the candidates that are running for office. This is what each candidate believes on each issue. This is what we believe on this issue. Candidate A will not support our mission but Candidate B will."
    Then fine, give up the tax exempt status and continue doing that. But what you say in the second paragraph is not preaching. It's influencing voters, which is not a church's or pastor's job.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacers View Post
    Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in what kind of political activities they may conduct. That's the law, and it's the right law. It's intended to prevent such abuse of power as telling the homeless you feed lunch, to go vote for your candidate or you won't feed them anymore. As a charitable service organization, you provide a service to those in need with no expectation of anything in return; the "in return" is that the organization gets tax-exempt status.

    Churches can't talk, it's the people who do the talking. And when a person is acting as the official representative of that church, i.e. when they are preaching or using church facilities to hold a fundraiser dinner or using church letterhead to write a newsletter, then they absolutely should be restricted to religion, not politics. When that same person is acting as Joe Blow, plain old human being, that's when he can say anything he wants or support anyone he wants. And it's not just churches, any other 501(c)3 organizaton is held to the same standard. A professor at USF was recently disciplined for using his position in a statement supporting a candidate, and Stanford University got an ad about Proposition 37 pulled off the air, partly because it featured a photo of the University. Here's some information from the IRS website: The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations
    Yes, I get that it's currently the law. I just don't understand why it is currently the law. Yes, I do think that pastors who tell their congregation who/what to vote for are abusing their power...but I don't know that it's the government's job to protect people from their own religious institutions, unless they are doing something really harmful like swindling them out of money or sexual abuse or something like that. Someone just telling you who they think you should vote for is irritating, and I wouldn't put up with it, but that doesn't mean that another adult can't sit and listen if they are interested.

    Here's the thing, I see churches as a free and voluntary gathering of people. If I wanted to throw a free political rally where I stand up and tell everyone there that I think they should vote for Candidate A and against Candidate B, who would stop me? Who should stop me? As long as I'm not collecting or donating money, tax law doesn't have anything to do with what I'm doing. That's how I see the churches too. As long as they aren't donating money to political causes, their politics don't really have much to do with the tax law IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    As long as they aren't donating money to political causes, their politics don't really have much to do with the tax law IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ethanwinfield View Post
    Sorry, I typed that wrong, but even better...if 70% of TAXPAYERS don't itemize, then we have no way of ever knowing accurately at. all. What was interesting about the article you posted is that if they take out religious donations some of the states catapult to the top (PA from 40 to 4; NY from 18 to 2).
    Of course the results will be skewed if they take out religious donations. That is crazy. I give more to my church than to other organizations because they have a community outreach program and I KNOW where my money and donations are going. No one is paid to run it they are all volunteers. I expect a lot of people who donate to their church do so for the same reason and I don't see how you could not count those donations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacers View Post
    Then fine, give up the tax exempt status and continue doing that. But what you say in the second paragraph is not preaching. It's influencing voters, which is not a church's or pastor's job.
    I disagree. It is a pastor's job to influence the church to act in a way that reflects their faith. If a pastor tells their church that a candidate stands for taxpayer funded abortion and therefore they should not vote for them if they value life that is completely in line with what a church should be teaching. The founding fathers were concerned about the government interfering with the church not the other way around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    Of course the results will be skewed if they take out religious donations. That is crazy. I give more to my church than to other organizations because they have a community outreach program and I KNOW where my money and donations are going. No one is paid to run it they are all volunteers. I expect a lot of people who donate to their church do so for the same reason and I don't see how you could not count those donations.
    I actually disagree with this. I think they donate to their church because they are religiously loyal, not because they actually 'know' where the money goes because the fact is religious institutions in the US don't HAVE to disclose that information, and i can guarantee you the majority of church donaters can't give you any actual statistics on how their church spends their money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KimPossible View Post
    I actually disagree with this. I think they donate to their church because they are religiously loyal, not because they actually 'know' where the money goes because the fact is religious institutions in the US don't HAVE to disclose that information, and i can guarantee you the majority of church donaters can't give you any actual statistics on how their church spends their money.
    I agree. On top of that, I have to guess that a lot of that money that people donate to their church goes (as it should!) to the actual church (as in paying for the building/land, maintenance, keeping the lights on, paying the pastor and admin staff, et cetera.) I don't think that should count as a charitable donation though, because as a member of your church you are directly reaping the benefits. It's more like belonging to a club and paying club membership dues, you know?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    I agree. On top of that, I have to guess that a lot of that money that people donate to their church goes (as it should!) to the actual church (as in paying for the building/land, maintenance, keeping the lights on, paying the pastor and admin staff, et cetera.) I don't think that should count as a charitable donation though, because as a member of your church you are directly reaping the benefits. It's more like belonging to a club and paying club membership dues, you know?
    And other charities don't pay a large portion of their donations to administrative costs? Think again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    I disagree. It is a pastor's job to influence the church to act in a way that reflects their faith. If a pastor tells their church that a candidate stands for taxpayer funded abortion and therefore they should not vote for them if they value life that is completely in line with what a church should be teaching. The founding fathers were concerned about the government interfering with the church not the other way around.
    In fairness, I think it goes both ways. Religious institutions shouldn't get to make laws that are purely religious, and the government shouldn't get to make laws about religion. You can't really have freedom of religion if another religion can come in and make laws that you have to follow simply because it is their religion, not yours. You know? What if the majority religion thought that it was against their religion for people to worship on Sundays, so they made a law that you couldn't go to church on Sundays, you just have to pick some other day. That would be a violation of your religious freedom It has to swing both ways (religion stays out of government and government stays out of religion) for it to truly be free.

    Having said that, I think that pastors simply talking about politics is NOT a violation of the separation of church and state.
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