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

79 posts / 0 new
Last post
Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427
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?

Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

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.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

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.

Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

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.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 8 months ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

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.

smsturner's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 3 months ago
Joined: 05/11/09
Posts: 1303

I think churches should pay taxes unless they can prove with their financial records that their money is going to charitable works.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

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.

mom3girls's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

Pastors should be able to preach on whatever they feel led to

mom3girls's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

"smsturner" wrote:

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.

Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

"wlillie" wrote:

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.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I was actually going to say that it seems like churches should be able to say whatever they want, although I do think it's hypocritical that churches want government to stay out of their business, but want to be involved in government business by influencing voting.

However, I just read an interesting argument that makes more sense to me. What they said is that since churches are tax exempt, and you actually get tax credit for donating to them, in effect if churches are allowed to get involved in politics, that is a way that people could donate to political campaigns tax free and even receiving credit for doing so. From there, they speculated that politicians could in essence set up their own "churches" that are basically just a front for getting the biggest bang for their donation buck. The whole thing gets messy fast. So that makes sense to me. It's not fair that my political contributions are not tax deductible since I don't go to church, but other people's political contributions would be as long as they funneled it through a church. I know you can say that I could still donate to a church that backs my political choice, but it just seems weird and messy to put churches in the middle of that anyway, and I also don't necessarily want to give my money to a church that may use part of it towards the political campaign and part of it to fund activities that I may not agree with as a non-religious person just so I can get a tax write off.

Also, can I just say that it seems like a bit of an abuse of power for a church leader to use their authority over people to try to influence who they will vote for. I'm not saying I think that should be against the law, but it does seem unethical to me. I stopped donating money to the ACLU (who I do think does a lot of good) because they called me to tell me who I should vote for in 2008. I agreed with everyone they said and already planned to vote that way, but it grossed me out that anyone felt like they could call me and tell me who I needed to vote for. I feel the same way about churches, only even more so because I feel like pastors probably have a lot more influence over their "flock" than the ACLU had over me.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

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.

FTR, this precedent IS set, it has been the law since 1954. It's just that some preachers choose to ignore it, and most of the time the IRS looks the other way.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

What about unions? My mother is a part of a union and they regularly send letters out saying what candidate is going to support their cause. If there is a candidate that is going to cut funding or not be in support of that union's policies, they tell there people who they want them to vote for all the time.

It is the same thing. If there is a candidate that is going to limit freedom of religion, not be in support of the family, and be in support of killing babies, then I think it is only reasonable that a pastor should be able to tell the people of their church who is going to go against the church.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

My understanding is that unions have to pay taxes on political contributions. Maybe that would be a good compromise - churches are tax exempt except for any political contributions?

Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

To me, it is one thing to say we do not support x, y, z in this church and another saying "HEY! I suggest you vote for Obama/Romney/Paul because I think they are the best candidate. Does not sit well with me.

I don't like it when unions do it (my dad always ignores his whether he votes for that candidate or not) or any other organization. No one should be swaying your vote except the candidate.

mom3girls's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

FTR, this precedent IS set, it has been the law since 1954. It's just that some preachers choose to ignore it, and most of the time the IRS looks the other way.

The 1954 law was written so that no church could fund a campaign, not to inhibit pastors for making recommendations on candidates or issues.

mom3girls's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

FTR, I would not ever attend a church that the pastor stood up and told me how to vote. I think they can remind us of the biblical references to issues, but then they need to stop. The only thing my pastor has ever done is to remind us to vote and speak to our youth group about the responsibility that comes with voting

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

My understanding is that unions have to pay taxes on political contributions. Maybe that would be a good compromise - churches are tax exempt except for any political contributions?

Political contributions? It is a different thing to say "These are the candidates that will support and back us and our values, these are the candidates that will be against us", then it is to give money to a campaign or be a part of a campaign.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Political contributions? It is a different thing to say "These are the candidates that will support and back us and our values, these are the candidates that will be against us", then it is to give money to a campaign or be a part of a campaign.

Yes. I agree. My thought on it is that if churches are doing political contributions, they should be taxed on those like anyone else would be. Otherwise, they should be able to say what they want from the pulpit.

I will reiterate that I think it is unethical for pastors to use their position of authority to try to influence people's vote. But unethical or not, I'm willing to leave that up to the church goers themselves and whether they are willing to put up with that. I wouldn't, but that's not a big surprise is it? LOL

GloriaInTX's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4229

"smsturner" wrote:

I think churches should pay taxes unless they can prove with their financial records that their money is going to charitable works.

Why should donated money be taxed? It has already been taxed once on the person who donated it why should it be double taxed?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Why should donated money be taxed? It has already been taxed once on the person who donated it why should it be double taxed?

The problem is that money donated to churches is elligible to be tax deductible (assuming you itemize your deductions and go over the minimum.) Money donated to political campaigns is not elligible for a tax deduction. Which is why it would be smart and easy to funnel campaign money through churches to get the biggest bang for your buck. I don't think that is sensible or fair, which is why I think that it's a good compromise that churches (like labor unions) could maybe be tax exempt except for political contributions.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

See, now I do not have a problem with this. What I do have a problem with, is limiting what a pastor can preach on or say from the pulpit.

GloriaInTX's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4229

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

The problem is that money donated to churches is elligible to be tax deductible (assuming you itemize your deductions and go over the minimum.) Money donated to political campaigns is not elligible for a tax deduction. Which is why it would be smart and easy to funnel campaign money through churches to get the biggest bang for your buck. I don't think that is sensible or fair, which is why I think that it's a good compromise that churches (like labor unions) could maybe be tax exempt except for political contributions.

Political contributions is a whole separate issue. I don't think donations from churches should go to support political candidates. I think if the donations are not for a candidate but for a specific issue like the legality of marriage or abortion or something the church stands for it should be allowed. As far as supporting a candidate, I don't think there should be a problem with a pastor saying that they think a specific candidate seems to have values that are more in line with the beliefs shared by the church.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 8 months ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

"Jessica80" wrote:

To me, it is one thing to say we do not support x, y, z in this church and another saying "HEY! I suggest you vote for Obama/Romney/Paul because I think they are the best candidate. Does not sit well with me.

I don't like it when unions do it (my dad always ignores his whether he votes for that candidate or not) or any other organization. No one should be swaying your vote except the candidate.

\

Then we should keep previous presidents and anyone else that's government funded from expressing their opinions on who to vote for. Along with Planned Parenthood and any other charity and ESPECIALLY the ones that are assisted by the government financially. If a Preacher can't say what he wants about the candidates and stay tax exempt, then those that are actually directly funded by the government and of course those who are tax exempt shouldn't be able to say anything political either. So anyone commenting on the current President in regards to the upcoming election or his current policies should lose any federal funding. Wink Sounds like a terrific plan (seriously) to me. Smile

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Yes. I agree. My thought on it is that if churches are doing political contributions, they should be taxed on those like anyone else would be. Otherwise, they should be able to say what they want from the pulpit.

I will reiterate that I think it is unethical for pastors to use their position of authority to try to influence people's vote. But unethical or not, I'm willing to leave that up to the church goers themselves and whether they are willing to put up with that. I wouldn't, but that's not a big surprise is it? LOL

Right. If you don't like the message, there is no government mandate making you go. Freedom of Religion is actually in the Constitution.

Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

I don't ever remember Planned Parenthood coming up to me and telling me who to vote for. I do agree on the tax exemption as well.

Again, I'm fine with a pastor explaining why they feel a certain way on a political issue. I am not okay with a pastor (or union or anyone really) advising you on who to vote on.

wlillie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 8 months ago
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

There is no difference (at least when it comes to the current presidential debate). Pro Life means vote for Romney. Pro Choice means vote for Obama. and so on. It's silly to pretend like one is OK and the other isn't since they are the same thing.

Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Why should donated money be taxed? It has already been taxed once on the person who donated it why should it be double taxed?

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?

Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

If I am understanding the argument correctly:
If I donate $1mil to No on 8, I can't take a write off for the donation - still pay taxes on it.
If I donate $1mil to the Morman Church, which then funds a No on 8 campaign, I get my tax write-off and they don't pay taxes on my donation because they are tax exempt even though the money is going to a political campaign.

Thus politicians could start churches or allign with churches to circumvent the laws about campaign donations?

Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

"wlillie" wrote:

There is no difference (at least when it comes to the current presidential debate). Pro Life means vote for Romney. Pro Choice means vote for Obama. and so on. It's silly to pretend like one is OK and the other isn't since they are the same thing.

Because my priest can state that the Catholic Church stands for pro life but it doesn't mean that I personally am pro life (and I'm pro choice). I don't agree with the Church's stance and if I attend service I'm prepared to hear that and respect it while I'm there. I do not expect my priest to say..."You must vote for X". Too much influence.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Thus politicians could start churches or allign with churches to circumvent the laws about campaign donations?

A church donating money to a political campaign is a much different thing than restricting what a pastor can say from the pulpit.

"Jessica80" wrote:

Because my priest can state that the Catholic Church stands for pro life but it doesn't mean that I personally am pro life (and I'm pro choice). I don't agree with the Church's stance and if I attend service I'm prepared to hear that and respect it while I'm there. I do not expect my priest to say..."You must vote for X". Too much influence.

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.

Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2256

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

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?

MissyJ's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 1 day ago
Joined: 01/31/02
Posts: 3289

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

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"Jessica80" wrote:

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.

GloriaInTX's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4229

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

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.

Spacers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

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.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

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?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"Spacers" wrote:

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.

Spacers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

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.

GloriaInTX's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4229

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

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?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

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_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I bet they would itemize the heck out of it if groups found a way to donate money to their political causes tax free. Smile How fast would those Super-Pacs find partner churches to partner with?

Anyway, just because people might not take advantage of it doesn't mean that it's fair. Gloria, do you really think it would be fair to allow political donations to be tax free if funnelled through a church? Is that really what churches are for?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

So because you would not personally go to such a church, no one can?

"Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It is clearly unconstitutional to make laws limiting what a pastor or church can or can not preach on.

I just did some more looking, and it appears that you can lose your tax exempt status for endorsing a particular candidate. I think this is very wrong and unconstitutional. I think it would be better to just say if the tax exempt status is going to make the government think they have the right to tell a church what to preach on, then they should take it away. I mean from everyone including the United Way and any other organization.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Bonita - if you're talking to me, I didn't say that no one can go to such a church. I've actually said explicitly that I think pastors should be legally allowed to say whatever they want, and that it's up to the church goers to decide if they want to put up with what they have to say.

There are a lot of things that I think are wrong but I still think should be legal.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

Sorry, no I was not talking to you. We must have been typing at the same time because your post was not there when I started typing. I actually agree with your stance.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

I must have taken a long time in my post, because there are actually several posts after I started writing mine.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Gotcha - that happens! Smile

Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Just want to add if 70% of taxpayers don't itemize than everything those 70% of people donate has been taxed once already.

Who Itemizes Deductions?

Can I ask how we "know" that Republicans donate more than Democrats if 70% of donations aren't itemized?

GloriaInTX's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4229

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Can I ask how we "know" that Republicans donate more than Democrats if 70% of donations aren't itemized?

Not 70% of donations, 70% of taxpayers. I don't know what percentage of donations aren't itemized, I doubt anyone could figure that out. But I guess we only "know" for the one's that do itemize. It would be pretty hard to track data they don't have unless they just take people at their word.

One limitation on the study is that it is based only on IRS data for those earning $50,000 or more and who itemize deductions. This leaves out a lot of taxpayers and many lower income and lower middle class people. In Milwaukee, traditionally, giving has been more broad-based and not as dominated by large individual gifts. In that sense, the rankings may punish Milwaukee and understate its generosity.

Murphy

Spacers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Again, I think pastors should be allowed (legally) to say whatever they want.....but it still seems like an abuse of power to me.

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

Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Not 70% of donations, 70% of taxpayers. I don't know what percentage of donations aren't itemized, I doubt anyone could figure that out. But I guess we only "know" for the one's that do itemize. It would be pretty hard to track data they don't have unless they just take people at their word.

Murphy

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).

AlyssaEimers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6803

"Spacers" wrote:

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

If you already said this and I missed it, I apologize. Do you also think unions and other organisations should not be allowed to tell their members who they think would best represent them? I do not understand what the difference is.

How and why do you draw the line? Church means different things to different people. I do not want anyone telling me what kind of a church I can go to, or what can be taught at said church. I also have never personally heard of a church that gives money to a campaign. I can agree that campaign money should be taxed.

ETA - With a union, I would guess it would be possible that someone could fear being fired if they did not vote the way the union wanted. I do not think that would ever happen as no one goes to vote with you. I would also say that is the same as saying a homeless person would not be helped unless they voted a certain way. That is just not going to happen. Even if it was, that is what would need to be addressed, not what a pastor preaches from the pulpit.

Pages