Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ministers Vow to Violate 501(c)(3) Restriction

Coming on the heels of The Villages/Mitch Daniels ad controversy, I can't help but flag this story.

Tomorrow, thirty-three ministers will lead a protest called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," during which the ministers will endorse political candidate from the pulpit and then send videotapes of the sermons to the IRS.

The protest was organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a consortium of Christian lawyers that fight for conservative religious and social causes. From the New York Times:

Organizers said they wanted a range of clergy of various faiths and political persuasions to join the protest, but acknowledged that the participants might be "weighted” toward the conservative end of the spectrum and more likely to support the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, than the Democrat, Senator Barack
Obama
.

Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, said: “This is not something these churches want to do in secrecy and hiding. In fact, they don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong. They don’t believe they’re violating the law.

“What they’re doing is talking to their congregations about biblical issues related to candidates and elections, and they believe they have the constitutional right to do that.”

This will end up in federal court where it will be determined that, indeed, these pastors have the right to speak favorably for a particular candidate as the spirit moves them. They just don't have the right to avoid paying taxes while doing it. Am I wrong, though, that any church that REALLY felt like its divine mission requires involvement in politics would just pay the taxes as a necessary evil to have unfettered pulpit freedom? Aren't those pastors suspect who bristle because paying taxes means there will be less in the church's building fund a bit suspect?


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7 comments:

J. Hagedorn said...

I wouldn't mind one way or another if hadn't seen firsthand so many times just how pervasive the inability to think individually permeates through evangelical congregations. My secretary, who is fairly intelligent, finally let slip the other day that she believed that Barack Obama was a Muslim. I asked her what led her to believe such a thing, and she said her pastor told her. Of course I gave her a few websites to look at and she said she'd speak to her pastor about it. At that point, she was convinced that Obama was indeed a Christian.

She came back a few days later and said that she believed her pastor. I asked her if she believed her pastor when he told her that God created everything in the universe in six days and that the world was only a few thousand years old, or when her pastor quotes passages from the Bible that indicate that her husband would be justified in locking her up while she's menstruating, and she said he never discussed those things. I told her to ask him about those things. She said she would do so.

I can't wait to hear the lame-brained crap that he gives her on those issues. And since she's actually fairly smart, I weep for our nation to think of the effect that churches have on the masses of weak-minded congregants....

Ken said...

It's simple, remove all special tax exempt status from all religious organizations. If God wants His organization to be funded, He is surely powerful enough where He can easily do so with out me and an unnecessary decrease in federal and local revenues, possibly through supernatural manipulation. Why does God need a Congress? More importantly, aren't donations supposed to be a form of sacrifice? Why am I being forced to participate in this sacrifice and why are Churches asking to have this sacrifice weakened? Is this not like back in the day when the Ancient Hebrews practiced animal sacrifice for them to be asking for a leg back? "I want to give to my God to show my love and devotion, but I also want a little of that back from everyone else's pocket." Isn't that what tax exempt status is? It just shows the weakness of the whole God thing in my opinion. Christians should be out there demanding tax exempt status be lifted from them like a burden pointing out the weakness of God and His followers.

Finally, politicians come under the heading of Earthly Princes, and I don't think that it is wise to take sides when it comes to endorsing one of these, in fact the Bible clearly says not to.

About J. Hadedorn's post, If Barack Obama is in fact a Christian, this is very bad. Your secretary's pastor is not only clearly breaking the 9th commandment, but he is doing so against a fellow Christian brother and he is doing so in order to defame both Sen. Obama and the Muslim religion. This seems so reprehensible that it does not make me weep, it boils my blood. This is not for the sake of my support for Sen. Obama, it is because we have given her Pastor money through the tax code in order to support his career and he doesn't appear to have the theological underpinnings to deserve that support. I wonder how many of the Pastors who are going to violate a contract they signed with the Federal government to obtain their tax exempt status will follow suit. Their proper response would have been to permanently revoke their tax exempt status so that they could share their measured opinions from the pulpit changing their sermons into earthly op/ed pieces.

J. Hagedorn said...

Ken,

Unfortunately, I know her pastor, and he's no Biblical scholar. He's a stereotype come to life in every respect.

His rants are well known around here, and he yearns for influence in politics, so much so that he's gotten into the habit of trying to pass himself off as some type of local political figure, although the local Republicans, to their credit, have at least tried to publicly shy away from him.

It's the fact that these charlatans have influence over their "flock" that bothers me, especially since many members of the flock will usually do as they are told without a second thought.

True Conservative said...

I think we can all agree this is not a republican/democrat issue. IPOPA, I have not read any posts protesting the use of churches by Obama or the reported church buses delivering people to the pools to vote in the primary. I think it is fine they do so, so long as my tax money doesn’t support their choice. I am so tired of hearing which candidate is more religious. Quite frankly I truly believe that most candidates, by the time they get to the national level, do not believe what their “church” preaches.

I have seen churches turn in to major businesses. One of which I am familiar now has a health club disguised as an outreach program. I am sure this is property tax free and so is the income. Another area is the religious hospitals such as Methodist, St. Vincent’s and St. Francis. They do not pay taxes. Let us separate church and state. Treat them all alike tax them just like a business. Otherwise the government gets in to determining which religion is a real religion. Much like a local judge who ruled that a couple’s children could not be reared as wiccans. How many businesses do they compete with that have to pay taxes? How many health clubs may go under and leave empty buildings when more churches start health clubs?

Well I will stop my rant now.

Anonymous said...

All churches are businesses. All churches should pay taxes.

Anonymous said...

Regarding churches and 501c3 status. It would be wise for all christian churches who are 501c3 to repent and ask God to forgive them for signing over their authority to the U.S. Government. The only authority in the Christian church is Jesus Christ. And if the church wants to follow Christ it would follow his teaches. In Matthew 17:24-27 it says "When they had come to Capernaum,those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.”
And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”
Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” So the Lord taught that the church (who is the body of believers) should pay tax. Unfortunately, most churches do not realize or ignore the 501c3 document which is a legal and binding document which the church submits to the government and looses the freedom of speech to a binding document. Plus, all churches are already tax exempt by order of the constitution. It may be due to the tax right off for staff and members that make them become 501c3. We christians need to wake up and pray for discernment and become obedient to the Lord and not compromise. Jesus did warn that the "love of money, was the root of all evil" and for His people to come out from among them. The church answers to Jesus Christ and not to the U.S. Government. It is interesting that since 1954 when the 501c3 was instituted that the years that followed were a time of moral change in this country as well as Vietnam and other significant historical facts. As the bible says "If MY PEOPLE who are called by MY NAME will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." If you are reading this and have not come to repentance and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I pray that you will read a bible (Book of John) and seek God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, and put your faith in Christ the Messiah. Jesus died for our sins that we would be saved from the righteous wrath of God on a sinful people. God loves you. Repent and Believe. John 14:6 "Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through him. He came so that we may have life, life eternal......Peace to all

Anonymous said...

I believe that pastors should be allowed to talk with their congregation about the stands that candidates take. I do not believe that they should have license to actually promote a particular candidate- none of them are 100% perfect or moral.
As far as taxes go... no churches should not be taxed. To be taxed would reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of the ministries that they do. Too much good that people take for granted comes from churches and the funding they receive from tithes. If people are going to be taxed you'd probably end up with tax evasion of churches or some other nonsense or conversely you have a large number of services for the needy suddenly gone.