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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26004 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2008 :  20:13:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Mycroft

I call bullshit. This is about ideology. This is about intolerance of differing opinions. This is about being an asshat who wants to reach out and harm someone for holding the wrong opinion.
You've described Ray Comfort to a T. But that's not who you meant.

The fact is that Ray could have chosen to start another blog (they're free, you know) and post his "dissent" there without calling it a part of his ministry, and this wouldn't have even been a question. In other words, it's not what he said, it's the mechanism through which he said it.

Pastor on a street corner, extolling the virtues of McCain: not illegal.

Pastor in his church, extolling the virtues of McCain: illegal.
Or...do you all feel the same sense of moral duty about eliminating the tax exempt status of this church?
Gee, yeah, Mycroft. Kil's "I doubt if there is a case..." is a real gung-ho rallying cry for shutting up Ray Comfort, isn't it? Ohnoes! Kil and Ig want to stifle dissent by being unsure if something crosses a legal line! What a couple of asshats!
Joy Rings Out at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church
The election is over. Don't you get it? Show us where the joyous revellers were being evangelized to write their Congresspeople or to vote for Obama again in four years, and I'll report them myself.

Perhaps, Mycroft, you just missed out on all the fun of Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  10:36:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
You've described Ray Comfort to a T. But that's not who you meant.


Ray Comfort is certainly motivated by his ideology, as is anyone who gets involved in any discussion, but I haven't seen Ray Comfort discussing trying to personally harm the people who disagree with him. If he did, he would also earn my contempt.


Originally posted by Dave W.
The fact is that Ray could have chosen to start another blog (they're free, you know) and post his "dissent" there without calling it a part of his ministry, and this wouldn't have even been a question. In other words, it's not what he said, it's the mechanism through which he said it.

Pastor on a street corner, extolling the virtues of McCain: not illegal.

Pastor in his church, extolling the virtues of McCain: illegal.


The legality is not in dispute. The issue is the motivations in pressing the legal issue.

Tell me, would you be so ardent to enforce the law in the issues I cited earlier? If the issue were not political ideology but homosexuality, marijuana use, or paying income taxes from a garage sale, would you still be standing up for the person reporting the law-breaker to the authorities?



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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26004 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  11:22:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Mycroft

Ray Comfort is certainly motivated by his ideology, as is anyone who gets involved in any discussion, but I haven't seen Ray Comfort discussing trying to personally harm the people who disagree with him. If he did, he would also earn my contempt.
He's sure they're all going to hell. Ray's imaginary friend will not only harm them, but harm them for eternity. That's not enough to earn your contempt?
The legality is not in dispute. The issue is the motivations in pressing the legal issue.
But the legality is important, since if Ray's actions hadn't come anywhere close to the legal line, this question would not have come up. Like the celebrations at the church, it's really a non-issue, so there would be no case pressed and no legal dispute.
Tell me, would you be so ardent to enforce the law in the issues I cited earlier? If the issue were not political ideology but homosexuality, marijuana use, or paying income taxes from a garage sale, would you still be standing up for the person reporting the law-breaker to the authorities?
Homosexuality is no longer illegal, and when it was it was only in 12 states (if I remember correctly). And so far as I know, the first two garage sales one has per year are tax-free per IRS rules.

Marijuana use is the interesting one, if only for settling further what my motivations would be if Ray were actually violating the law. By not paying taxes, Ray and other 501(c)3 groups get the social services they receive (emergency services, roads, etc) at my (and your) expense. Tax exempt groups should (as I said before) be held to a different standard for that reason. Pot smokers, not so much. Can't make the same case for them.

And that's independent of the fact that I consider the filth Ray spews to be patently dangerous to a rational society. If someone were smoking pot around my kid (for example), I'd call 911 on the spot.

Now, tit-for-tat, Mycroft: what harm would be done to Ray for just reporting this to the IRS, since this particular case likely wouldn't get farther than an unofficial review?

Or, say Meals-on-Wheels took millions of dollars of previous donations and held a pro-Obama parade through D.C., would you still be against reporting them to the IRS? I'd be hunting for an IRS hot-line phone number faster than it took to write this sentence.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  11:38:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hey Mycroft. Since you keep bringing it up, perhaps you could find an example of a preacher or a church leader endorsing a candidate to his parishioners in church as part of a church service and not been called into question about it.

We all know how Ray feels. We all know how Martin Luther King felt. But did King stand up in church and endorse a political party or did he say that blacks lack the same civil rights as white people do, and need to do something about it. Do you see that kind statement as an endorsement of one particular side up for election?

I have ignored this red herring so far, but since you insist, go find me where complaints about civil rights by a pastor resulted in a blatant endorsement of a political candidate that the parishioners should vote for.

Find me an example of a tax exempt organization that has not put there tax exempt status in jeopardy by making partisan endorsements. I know it has happened, and I also know that there are churches that have lost their tax exempt status...


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  21:47:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Originally posted by Dave W.
He's sure they're all going to hell. Ray's imaginary friend will not only harm them, but harm them for eternity. That's not enough to earn your contempt?


As far as I can tell, Ray has never sought to harm anyone who disagrees with him. He may well be an asshat in many other ways, but believing something bad will happen is very different from making it happen.

Originally posted by Dave W.
And that's independent of the fact that I consider the filth Ray spews to be patently dangerous to a rational society. If someone were smoking pot around my kid (for example), I'd call 911 on the spot.


Interesting. I don't see Ray or the pot smoker as being any kind of threat to society or my children.
Originally posted by Dave W.
Now, tit-for-tat, Mycroft: what harm would be done to Ray for just reporting this to the IRS, since this particular case likely wouldn't get farther than an unofficial review?


Well, if you stipulate that no harm is done, then no harm is done.

The issue, for me, is how you deal with people who disagree with you. Do we challenge those people's ideas in free debate where you're able to point out the flaws in their thinking, confident that your superior reasoning will sway more opinions? Or do you circumvent the debate entirely by finding ways to persecute them until they shut-up?

I believe a pluralistic society demands tolerance for a wide variety of opinion and beliefs.

Originally posted by Dave W.
Or, say Meals-on-Wheels took millions of dollars of previous donations and held a pro-Obama parade through D.C., would you still be against reporting them to the IRS? I'd be hunting for an IRS hot-line phone number faster than it took to write this sentence.


A political organization doing the same thing would be tax exempt too, so the issue here isn't if the IRS got their fair share or not, but that those people that donated to Meals-on-Wheels were misled on how their money would be spent.
Edited by - Mycroft on 11/06/2008 21:53:39
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26004 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2008 :  23:43:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Mycroft

As far as I can tell, Ray has never sought to harm anyone who disagrees with him. He may well be an asshat in many other ways, but believing something bad will happen is very different from making it happen.
Then you haven't studied Scripture.
Interesting. I don't see Ray or the pot smoker as being any kind of threat to society or my children.
Really, you would let your seven-year-old child hang out with a guy who smoked pot with your kid in the same room? Where I live, such negligent "child endangerment" is a crime. Hell, I don't even let my boy eat too much candy!

Ray, on the other hand, seeks to make the whole world stupid. The danger he presents is more immediate and deadly to a pluralistic, tolerant society.
Well, if you stipulate that no harm is done, then no harm is done.
No harm has been done, nor will be done, because Ig isn't reporting anyone to anyone. He only posed the question, but he's an asshat for doing so, apparently.
The issue, for me, is how you deal with people who disagree with you. Do we challenge those people's ideas in free debate where you're able to point out the flaws in their thinking, confident that your superior reasoning will sway more opinions? Or do you circumvent the debate entirely by finding ways to persecute them until they shut-up?
Are you kidding? You're flipping 180 degrees by now saying that the issue is the mechanism, and not the dissent itself.

There are a zillion forums in which Ray and those who disagree with him could debate the issues with no questions of legality whatsoever. Ray chose the one place to post "dissent" that is very close to the legal line. Again: had Ray chosen a different venue, there wouldn't be a legal question at all. And the fact is that these issues had been debated (perfectly legally) a million times already before the election (with nobody being sanctioned for it), but Ray is impervious to "superior reasoning."

I find it extraordinarily hard to believe that you, Mycroft, were first exposed to the homophobic, anti-choice and other old, old ideas expressed in Ray's post, but the suggestion you've made that proponents of such ideas must be engaged as if they're the only ones offering or capable of a "free debate" on the subject really does point to such a conclusion.

But the fact of the matter is that guys like Ray are a dime a dozen, and even if they all lost their tax-exempt status, they'd still be spouting their nonsense and refusing to engage in rational, free debate. Heck, Kent Hovind is currently serving a ten-year jail sentence for tax evasion, but he's still writing and publishing his same-old crappola. The idea that punishing these sorts of people for breaking secular law will stifle their irrational religious "dissent" is utterly ludicrous, and simply displays a complete ignorance of the real issues at hand.
I believe a pluralistic society demands tolerance for a wide variety of opinion and beliefs.
The amount of tolerance that the typical skeptic has for dissenting opinions tends to be largely based upon how well argued those opinions are. "God said it, I believe it, that's the end of it" is about the worst argumentation there is, but that's about the extent of the "logic" exhibited by folks like Ray. In other words, the benefits provided by vigorous debate between highly informed proponents of differi

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Hittman
Skeptic Friend

134 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2008 :  19:19:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hittman's Homepage Send Hittman a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So you would be for turning in criminals if their crime is consensual sodomy? How about smoking marijuana? Would you feel this urgent moral imperative if your neighbor failed to report income from a garage sale to the IRS?

Nope. The first two have no effect on me. The last one has no measurable effect on me, because the amount is trivial. (It's also not illegal if they made less than $600, which is likely.) But a dirtbag preacher who doesn't pay any taxes does increase my taxes especially when you consider all the preachers who are breaking the law this way. And in every case I'm aware of they are advocating for removing my rights, or the rights of friends.
As far as I can tell, Ray has never sought to harm anyone who disagrees with him. He may well be an asshat in many other ways, but believing something bad will happen is very different from making it happen.

Ah, but there's the rub. He is trying to make something happen. Something political that serves his religious agenda.


When a vampire Jehovah's Witness knocks on your door, don't invite him in. Blood Witness: http://bloodwitness.com

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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2008 :  21:25:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Mycroft

Are you really so threatened by dissent that you need to personally harm people who disagree with you?!

That is so messed up!




Under the provisions of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the organization may not engage in political advocation as part of it's business or advertize such on it's buildings or lands.

Break the rules, lose your tax perks.

This is not the stiffling of dissent voices from the adherents, just restricting the organization's voice on something completely unrelated to it's stated primary function.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
Edited by - Valiant Dancer on 11/07/2008 21:28:33
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26004 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2008 :  11:06:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
More legal proselytizing.

By the way, last night someone set off some fireworks in my neighborhood, setting a pine tree on fire (about 15' from my house). Obviously, whoever did it has a different ideological outlook on fireworks at 1:30 AM than I do, but if I ever get a name (or names), you'd better believe that I am going to "personally harm" the perp(s) by reporting that data to the police.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2008 :  11:21:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Hittman
Nope. The first two have no effect on me. The last one has no measurable effect on me, because the amount is trivial.


So for you the issue is if it has a personal effect on you?

Originally posted by Hittman
And in every case I'm aware of they are advocating for removing my rights, or the rights of friends.


Which, again, tells me that for you the issue is about ideology, not about enforcing the law.


Originally posted by Hittman
Ah, but there's the rub. He is trying to make something happen. Something political that serves his religious agenda.


In a democracy we're all supposed to advocate for change. If you disagree with someone's opinion you're supposed to make a cogent argument against them, not pull dirty-tricks to silence them.

Edited by - Mycroft on 11/09/2008 11:26:36
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Mycroft
Skeptic Friend

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2008 :  11:30:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Mycroft a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
More legal proselytizing.


I disagree with what they say, but I respect their right to say it.

How about you?

Originally posted by Dave W.
By the way, last night someone set off some fireworks in my neighborhood, setting a pine tree on fire (about 15' from my house). Obviously, whoever did it has a different ideological outlook on fireworks at 1:30 AM than I do, but if I ever get a name (or names), you'd better believe that I am going to "personally harm" the perp(s) by reporting that data to the police.


Neither you nor I believe the actions of these people are comparable to Ray Comfort.
Edited by - Mycroft on 11/10/2008 23:15:27
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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2008 :  11:30:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
While I am not for reporting anybody to anybody unless there are actual risks of significant harm; I certainly would not characterize helping in the application of the law as 'pulling a dirty trick'.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2008 :  11:55:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This was on written by the church under the church letterhead:
We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to
assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to
preserve the sacred institution of marriage.

I think it is a violation of the law with regard to tax exemption. Will the law be enforced in this case? I doubt it...

What Ray did is small potatoes in comparison. I don't think there is a case there.

And yes Mycroft, they have a right to their opinion. But that opinion must be expressed in a way that is within the law. A law that you seem to have little regard for.

So let me ask you. What would a tax exempt church or organization have to do before you consider it over the legal line?


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2008 :  12:10:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Mycroft
In a democracy we're all supposed to advocate for change. If you disagree with someone's opinion you're supposed to make a cogent argument against them, not pull dirty-tricks to silence them.
It's not a dirty trick. One of the primary reasons churches are able to enjoy tax-exempt status is that they agree not to directly engage in politics. That's the agreement they make when they submit their taxes every year. If a church or pastor breaks that agreement then they are in violation of the law. The only "dirty trick" here would be a church that immorally tries to go back on their agreement and cheat the system, or the frauds that would defend such dishonesty.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2008 :  12:30:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Originally posted by Mycroft
In a democracy we're all supposed to advocate for change. If you disagree with someone's opinion you're supposed to make a cogent argument against them, not pull dirty-tricks to silence them.
It's not a dirty trick. One of the primary reasons churches are able to enjoy tax-exempt status is that they agree not to directly engage in politics. That's the agreement they make when they submit their taxes every year. If a church or pastor breaks that agreement then they are in violation of the law. The only "dirty trick" here would be a church that immorally tries to go back on their agreement and cheat the system, or the frauds that would defend such dishonesty.


Right. Actually, it would be a dirty trick if the church clearly broke no laws, but some disgruntled person or persons reported them anyway, in hopes of messing with them by way of the IRS.

I will be giving up on Mycroft getting the concept that the laws were written for a reason. If the LDS makes a partisan endorsement under their letterhead, all he sees is that those who complain about it, and especially those who are on the other side of the issue, the only people likely to complain, are just being petty to point out the law regarding tax exempt organizations.

At this point, I think he is just being stubborn. (I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.)


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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