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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/12/2011 :  05:29:29  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here's something I stumbled across during yet another bout of insomnia. It points out that letting the churchs off tax free is subsidizing religion and is a vioation of the Constitution. The Founding Fathers, knowing well the the centuries of strife caused by the official churchs in Europe and England decided that they weren't having that here, and said so in the first sentence in the Bill of Rights.


It was the fervent hope of the founders of our great nation that its government would not tresspass on the province of religion, and that religion would find neither refuge nor condemnation from a secular government. The founders' committment to this idea was unequivocal. The very first words of the Bill of Rights read:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Whether you interpret that statement as an originalist, papist, feminist, or any other -ist, exempting religious organizations from paying taxes is a clear case of our government "respecting an establishment of religion," precisely what the framers intended to prohibit.

This is not to suggest that you abandon your church or your faith. For one thing, any religious organization that lives up to its commitments to its congregation and community would have nothing to fear from filing a tax return, just like every other non-profit. For another, when these institutions pay taxes like every other non-profit, each citizen's tax burden is significantly lessened and consequently he or she maybetter endow a worthy institution with individual support.

It is the flip side of the same coin: as your right to practice a religion must be respected by government, it may not support churches by tax subsidies or any other means.

Which, by definition, turns the churchs into just another scam, ripping off the government and by extension, the general populace.

Because our country is not supposed to be a theocracy. It is not a new idea: tax exemption for religious organizations has been debated since the birth of our great nation. istorically, far from the accepted status quo, the subsidy of religious organizations via carte blanche tax exemptions has troubled patriots and conscientious religious citizens alike. Since our Consititution was written our nation has witnessed an overall upsurge in the deliberate mingling of government with religion, to the point that the two institutions at times have appeared nearly indistinguishable. Perhaps emboldened by the cowardice and arrogance displayed by our nation's highest court and the apathy of so many citizens, religious zealots now hold our highest offices and have infiltrated every single branch of government, upholding biblical views when their taxpayer-funded jobs explicitly require them to uphold the Constitution of the United States instead.

Because it makes no sense. To deny that tax exemption is a meaningful public subsidy is to put forth an absurd proposition: just consider what your personal financial picture would look like if you never paid any taxes. Yet it is exactly this type of ludicrous logic on which religious tax exemptions have been upheld time and again by our courts and congresses. See LAW for more.

"Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal. We have no king but Jesus."
-Fmr. Attorney General John Ashcroft

"[I]ntentional governmental advancement of religion is sometimes required by the Free Exercise Clause."
-Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia

So, how much coin does, oh, say, Keith Copeland take in on a good year? I don't know either and we will never find out because he'll never open his books. Nor will the country's coffers ever see a dime of it, to the determent of everyone.





"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


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Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

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AnthroGeek
New Member

USA
38 Posts

Posted - 06/12/2011 :  05:48:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send AnthroGeek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I thought churches could only claim tax exemption by claiming to be a not-for-profit charity. If that is the case then opening up their books should be a matter of public record.

I, for one, am more than happy to tax churches. The area I live in has been hit hard by rising property taxes and the city's population has dwindled by nearly 20% over the last decade or so due, in large part, to the rising tax burden and collapsing infrastructure.

As I told many a friend, in any ghetto in the US there seems to be no shortage of two things: churches and liquor stores. At least we have the common sense to tax the booze.

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The Rat
SFN Regular

Canada
1342 Posts

Posted - 06/12/2011 :  18:06:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit The Rat's Homepage Send The Rat a Private Message  Reply with Quote

I think a legal case could be made that taxing churches is a form of mixing religion and politics. But since the religious right has made no attempt whatsoever to stay out of politics (in fact as the second quote says they've infiltrated it for nefarious purposes) then I say go all the way and make them pay for the privilege.


Bailey's second law; There is no relationship between the three virtues of intelligence, education, and wisdom.

You fiend! Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul-minded perversity! Have you ever considered a career in the Church? - The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Blackadder II

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AnthroGeek
New Member

USA
38 Posts

Posted - 06/12/2011 :  20:38:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send AnthroGeek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by The Rat


I think a legal case could be made that taxing churches is a form of mixing religion and politics. But since the religious right has made no attempt whatsoever to stay out of politics (in fact as the second quote says they've infiltrated it for nefarious purposes) then I say go all the way and make them pay for the privilege.




I think a case could be made that the entire tax exempt status of churches is a fundamental violation of the establishment clause. I started reading the IRS religious/church pdf that lays out the criteria for tax exemptionhttp://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf

I am not even sure how it is legal to begin with with wording like:
"Rather, beneficiaries of an
organizationís activities must be recognized objects of
charity (such as the poor or the distressed) or the community
at large (for example, through the conduct of
religious services or the promotion of religion)." (page 5 even)


The damn thing says that promotion of a religion is part of the criteria for tax exemption and it seems to me that that is a violation of the Constitution is of itself.

A series of fun one-liners about various pseudoscientific claims and, even better, a concise description of the scientific method - Ken Feder on Skeptic Friends Network from "Frauds, Myths and Mysteries"
Edited by - AnthroGeek on 06/12/2011 20:39:13
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The Rat
SFN Regular

Canada
1342 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2011 :  05:36:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit The Rat's Homepage Send The Rat a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by AnthroGeek

I think a case could be made that the entire tax exempt status of churches is a fundamental violation of the establishment clause.


Oh I don't disagree, I'm just saying that I think a case could be made either way. And if they're paying taxes then it will be even more difficult to tell them to stay out of politics.

Bailey's second law; There is no relationship between the three virtues of intelligence, education, and wisdom.

You fiend! Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul-minded perversity! Have you ever considered a career in the Church? - The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Blackadder II

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Elmo the Clown
New Member

31 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2011 :  11:22:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Elmo the Clown's Homepage Send Elmo the Clown a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Why would giving a tax break to ALL churches be in violation of the First Amendment when the Congress under President Jefferson gave land and money to Christian Churches to convert the heathen? This was a Congress with Founders under a president that was a founder.

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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2011 :  13:08:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just because Jefferson/Congress possibly violated the Constitution doesn't make it right. But what do I know? I'm not American.

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Elmo the Clown
New Member

31 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2011 :  14:36:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Elmo the Clown's Homepage Send Elmo the Clown a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Just because Jefferson/Congress possibly violated the Constitution doesn't make it right. But what do I know? I'm not American.



Also my bad... 4th Congress passed it, George Washington signed it into law, Jefferson renewed it... So that is two Founders and 2 early Congresses... sounds like intent to me.

It still amazes me that so much bologna can come out of that stupid "Wall" statement... Jefferson would turn over in his grave, especially since he also said:
"On every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed"

So... Early Congress, 2 Founders signing off on it, including Jefferson, who also said:

"I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another."

So.. how is allowing churches of any denomination a tax exempt status unconstitutional?

Now personally... I wish they would re-do the way they tax ALL charities, religious or not. A charity like St. Vincent De Paul which has administrative costs of less than 10% could go tax free, while those with 40-50% administrative costs should lose their tax exempt status all together.

They should also be disallowed to be in certain trades, except with specific products. Travel agents should not have to compete against National Geographic Travel for leisure travel products. They can do whatever they want with educational travel products, but no break for strait leisure. (I used to be a travel agent, and that erpped me).

But hey.. there isn't so much difference between the bible and the constitution in some respects. People will try to squeeze it any way they can.

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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2011 :  15:35:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Taxing churches has got a snowball's chance in hell. I hear the catholic church owns Yankee Stadium, is there nothing they won't do to get their hands on children? SS

Edit: Before someone tells me they don't, they don't. I just threw that in because it's rumored they did and I thought it would be funny to throw that in and no one should forget what douchbags they are ;)

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
Edited by - sailingsoul on 06/13/2011 15:50:44
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2011 :  22:22:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Elmo the Clown

Why would giving a tax break to ALL churches be in violation of the First Amendment when the Congress under President Jefferson gave land and money to Christian Churches to convert the heathen? This was a Congress with Founders under a president that was a founder.

Because they were pragmatists first. Those guys would shoot you in the face if you fucked with them. Funding an enemy to eliminate another enemy has been an ongoing trend in US policy for our entire history. We are, in reality, like all people, vicious in defense of what we think of as our own interests. We have always taken a stand behind the letter of our laws when it comes to protecting our self interests. We will use any tool for the job that we can defend politically.

As for the true nature and thinking of our founders, we have to set aside the thinking we have today. Not many people are willing do it, but you have to look at things through the lens of history, to a time when it was considered not just OK, but was expected of you, to pick up a gun and pop a cap in any motherfucker that disrespected you.

Hamilton-Burr anyone?

1838 was the year it became illegal to issue or accept a challenge to a duel in Washington DC, but duels were still going on elsewhere, even Abe Lincoln accepted a duel challenge (that was settled before shots were fired).

Only 20 states have specific laws prohibiting duels, the rest will just charge you with something like unlawful use of a firearm or attempted murder/manslaughter if you engage in a duel. That has only been the practice, legally, since the late 1800s for most of the US.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2011 :  00:43:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Elmo the Clown

Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Just because Jefferson/Congress possibly violated the Constitution doesn't make it right. But what do I know? I'm not American.
Also my bad... 4th Congress passed it, George Washington signed it into law, Jefferson renewed it... So that is two Founders and 2 early Congresses... sounds like intent to me.
They intended to violate the constitution?
Intentional or not, they screwed up seriously since now, a climinal organization like the Church of Scientology can make shit up then pass it as religion in order to collect tax-excemption status. Prima facie evidence that their interpretation of the constitution had unintended bad consequences.

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2011 :  03:32:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't see how the church tax exemption is a violation of the Constitution since, as others have mentioned, it doesn't specially benefit any particular sect or even major religious body. I think that is stretching the interpretation too much, especially given the precedent that was set so long ago.

That said, I agree that most churches should be taxed for other reasons.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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Elmo the Clown
New Member

31 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2011 :  05:06:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Elmo the Clown's Homepage Send Elmo the Clown a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

Originally posted by Elmo the Clown

Why would giving a tax break to ALL churches be in violation of the First Amendment when the Congress under President Jefferson gave land and money to Christian Churches to convert the heathen? This was a Congress with Founders under a president that was a founder.

Because they were pragmatists first. Those guys would shoot you in the face if you fucked with them. Funding an enemy to eliminate another enemy has been an ongoing trend in US policy for our entire history. We are, in reality, like all people, vicious in defense of what we think of as our own interests. We have always taken a stand behind the letter of our laws when it comes to protecting our self interests. We will use any tool for the job that we can defend politically.

Lack of pragmatism is irrelevant. Shows no evidence versus intent. Redefining things and squeezing meaning out.. giving credence to a Constitution that changes with the times is bullshit. How's that working for us?

Originally posted by Dude
As for the true nature and thinking of our founders, we have to set aside the thinking we have today. Not many people are willing do it, but you have to look at things through the lens of history, to a time when it was considered not just OK, but was expected of you, to pick up a gun and pop a cap in any motherfucker that disrespected you.


I am not sure what you are saying. Are you saying we should ignore their intent?

Originally posted by Dude
1838 was the year it became illegal to issue or accept a challenge to a duel in Washington DC, but duels were still going on elsewhere, even Abe Lincoln accepted a duel challenge (that was settled before shots were fired).

Only 20 states have specific laws prohibiting duels, the rest will just charge you with something like unlawful use of a firearm or attempted murder/manslaughter if you engage in a duel. That has only been the practice, legally, since the late 1800s for most of the US.




The times change. The ability to change the constitution was built into it. If 38 states want to get together and change it... kudos. I am all for it. As far as dueling, the states can deal with the issue any way they want, except where the constitution gives the power to the fed, or denies it to the state.

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AnthroGeek
New Member

USA
38 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2011 :  05:14:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send AnthroGeek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

I don't see how the church tax exemption is a violation of the Constitution since, as others have mentioned, it doesn't specially benefit any particular sect or even major religious body. I think that is stretching the interpretation too much, especially given the precedent that was set so long ago.

That said, I agree that most churches should be taxed for other reasons.



I think it is a violation based on how the wording is stated that the act of promotion of the religion itself is part of the reason that a church/religion receives the tax break. I think this has the potential of setting up the government in the nasty position of defining what is or is not a religion.

I wonder if I could get away with setting my self up as the newly founded Church of One of the One True God and get some tax exemption. I think I could run a high enough cost of operation that only minimal amounts of monies would have to be used for actual charity work - kind of like many churches seem to do now

A series of fun one-liners about various pseudoscientific claims and, even better, a concise description of the scientific method - Ken Feder on Skeptic Friends Network from "Frauds, Myths and Mysteries"
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Elmo the Clown
New Member

31 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2011 :  05:21:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Elmo the Clown's Homepage Send Elmo the Clown a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Originally posted by Elmo the Clown

Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Just because Jefferson/Congress possibly violated the Constitution doesn't make it right. But what do I know? I'm not American.
Also my bad... 4th Congress passed it, George Washington signed it into law, Jefferson renewed it... So that is two Founders and 2 early Congresses... sounds like intent to me.
They intended to violate the constitution?
Intentional or not, they screwed up seriously since now, a climinal organization like the Church of Scientology can make shit up then pass it as religion in order to collect tax-excemption status. Prima facie evidence that their interpretation of the constitution had unintended bad consequences.

They didn't violate the Constitution. This silliness over Jefferson's wall on which modern 1st Amendment thought is based is just that silliness.... You can't take one sentence, and ignore all the others PLUS his actions.

Congress can, at any time, change the way things are done in respect to charities. As far as I am concerned, they could have said NO religious charities whatsoever... A charity is no more a person than a corporation. Citizens United versus Federal Elections is a travesty. It is "We the People" for which this constitution was established. Now, with meaning squeezed out, can they truly say no religious charities, or would the religions say that they are having their rights violated, that hey are being discriminated against?

But saying it is unconstitutional is a travesty. Calling it unconstitutional insinuates new meanings, which is how the cancer spreads to other things, and changing definitions, and gives us decisions like Citizens United v.Federal Elections.

How's that working for us?

Here's a novel idea... actually follow the intent of the constitution.

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Elmo the Clown
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31 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2011 :  05:31:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Elmo the Clown's Homepage Send Elmo the Clown a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by AnthroGeek

Originally posted by marfknox

I don't see how the church tax exemption is a violation of the Constitution since, as others have mentioned, it doesn't specially benefit any particular sect or even major religious body. I think that is stretching the interpretation too much, especially given the precedent that was set so long ago.

That said, I agree that most churches should be taxed for other reasons.



I think it is a violation based on how the wording is stated that the act of promotion of the religion itself is part of the reason that a church/religion receives the tax break. I think this has the potential of setting up the government in the nasty position of defining what is or is not a religion.

They are not promoting a religion.

As far as deciding what a religion is... That is a tough one. It is far more important however, no matter what can be invented as a religion, that the freedom be permitted to exercise it (without violating other's rights).

JeffersonOne of the amendments to the Constitution... expressly declares that '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,' thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others. --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. ME 17:382

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