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IRS Threatens Political Speech
US House ^ | 24 Jul | Congressman Ron Paul

Posted on 07/27/2006 8:20:43 AM PDT by xzins

Five years ago, I wrote about threats made by the Internal Revenue Service against conservative churches for supposedly engaging in politicking. Today, the IRS is again attempting to chill free speech, sending notices to more than 15,000 non-profit organizations—including churches—regarding its new crackdown on political activity.

But what exactly constitutes political activity? What if a member of the clergy urges his congregation to work toward creating a pro-life culture, when an upcoming election features a pro-life candidate? What if a minister admonishes churchgoers that homosexuality is sinful, when an initiative banning gay marriage is on an upcoming ballot? Where exactly do we draw the line, and when does the IRS begin to violate the First amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion?

I agree with my colleague Walter Jones of North Carolina that the political views of any particular church or its members are none of the government’s business. Congressman Jones introduced legislation that addresses this very serious issue of IRS harassment of churches engaging in conservative political activity. This bill is badly needed to end the IRS practice of threatening certain politically disfavored faiths with loss of their tax-exempt status, while ignoring the very open and public political activities of other churches. While some well-known leftist preachers routinely advocate socialism from the pulpit, many conservative Christian and Jewish congregations cannot present their political beliefs without risking scrutiny from the tax collector.

The supposed motivation behind the ban on political participation by churches is the need to maintain a rigid separation between church and state. However, the First amendment simply prohibits the federal government from passing laws that establish religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion. There certainly is no mention of any "separation of church and state," yet lawmakers and judges continually assert this mythical doctrine.

The result is court rulings and laws that separate citizens from their religious beliefs in all public settings, in clear violation of the free exercise clause. Our Founders never envisioned a rigidly secular public society, where people must nonsensically disregard their deeply held beliefs in all matters of government and politics. They certainly never imagined that the federal government would actively work to chill the political activities of some churches.

Speech is speech, regardless of the setting. There is no legal distinction between religious expression and political expression; both are equally protected by the First amendment. Religious believers do not drop their political opinions at the door of their place of worship, nor do they disregard their faith at the ballot box. Religious morality will always inform the voting choices of Americans of all faiths.

The political left, however, seeks to impose the viewpoint that public life must be secular, and that government cannot reflect morality derived from faith. Many Democrats, not all, are threatened by strong religious institutions because they want an ever-growing federal government to serve as the unchallenged authority in our society. So the real motivation behind the insistence on a separation of church and state is not based on respect for the First amendment, but rather on a desire to diminish the influence of religious conservatives at the ballot box.

The Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom must not depend on the whims of IRS bureaucrats. Religious institutions cannot freely preach their beliefs if they must fear that the government will accuse them of "politics." We cannot allow churches to be silenced any more than we can allow political dissent in general to be silenced. Free societies always have strong, independent institutions that are not afraid to challenge and criticize the government.


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1stamendment; churchandstate; elections; firstamendment; freeexercise; freespeech; govwatch; irs; scotus; taxes
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1 posted on 07/27/2006 8:20:45 AM PDT by xzins
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To: P-Marlowe; jude24; OrthodoxPresbyterian; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands; Alamo-Girl; PatrickHenry
Speech is speech, regardless of the setting. There is no legal distinction between religious expression and political expression; both are equally protected by the First amendment. Religious believers do not drop their political opinions at the door of their place of worship, nor do they disregard their faith at the ballot box. Religious morality will always inform the voting choices of Americans of all faiths.

Starting to get to the heart of the issue.

The heart of the issue is that the government shouldn't be in the business of taking anything that belongs to God.

2 posted on 07/27/2006 8:23:20 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: xzins
The supposed motivation behind the ban on political participation by churches is the need to maintain a rigid separation between church and state

If that's the case, then why are the IRS regs re: electioneering applicable to all 501(c)(3) non-profits, not just churches?

There is no "right" to tax-exempt status. If you accept it, you know full well what you're getting yourself into.

There's a real simple solution to all of this for churches -- abandon their tax-exempt status & electioneer as much as they want. Some conservative churches have done just that so they don't have to serve two masters.

3 posted on 07/27/2006 8:28:51 AM PDT by gdani
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To: gdani

Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?


4 posted on 07/27/2006 8:29:59 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: Taxman; ancient_geezer; Principled; EternalVigilance; rwrcpa1; phil_will1; kevkrom; n-tres-ted; ...
Actually, I think the best manner to remove his weapon from the arsenal of the left is NOT to legislate specifically against it, but to remove their power to discriminate using the tax laws.

Passing the FairTax into law for taxation would eliminate their ability to use this threat since income - no matter the source - would not be taxed; only consumer consumption. Churches would then be free to have free speech under the Constitution as originally intended (and not now practiced).

It's time for the FairTax!!!

5 posted on 07/27/2006 8:31:53 AM PDT by pigdog
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To: xzins
Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?

Explain why that's relevant.

6 posted on 07/27/2006 8:33:57 AM PDT by gdani
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To: xzins
"I agree with my colleague Walter Jones of North Carolina that the political views of any particular church or its members are none of the government’s business. "
Perfect. Then abolish the tax-exempt status of that [and other] church[es] and charitable tax exemption for its members and other individuals - and everyone will live happily ever after. [the government would still have a legitimate interest in the activities of places similar to Finsbury mosque in England, though]
7 posted on 07/27/2006 8:34:30 AM PDT by GSlob
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To: xzins
If the church were to organize political volunteers to work on a campaign, I can see an issue. What is said in church should never be a concern of the government.
8 posted on 07/27/2006 8:35:55 AM PDT by pgyanke (Christ embraces sinners; liberals embrace the sin.)
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To: gdani
There is no "right" to tax-exempt status. If you accept it, you know full well what you're getting yourself into.

There's a real simple solution to all of this for churches -- abandon their tax-exempt status & electioneer as much as they want. Some conservative churches have done just that so they don't have to serve two masters.


I disagree.

I think there is a distinct difference in a PAC and a church, and that the pastor/preacher/minister/rabbi has a right, indeed a duty, to call it as he/she sees it.

The tax exempt status is related to churches being charitable organizations. It should not be used for a muzzle and leash.

I do not believe the church should be going door-to-door or manning the phone lines to influence the vote for a candidate, but have not seen that happening either.
9 posted on 07/27/2006 8:37:37 AM PDT by NonLinear (He's dead, Jim)
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To: xzins


It's okay - the American left assured me that the Constitution was never intended for Conservatives. Just themselves.


10 posted on 07/27/2006 8:38:07 AM PDT by Tzimisce (How Would Mohammed Vote? Hillary for President! www.dndorks.com)
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To: gdani

>Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?
>Explain why that is relevant.<

Explain why it is not.


11 posted on 07/27/2006 8:41:16 AM PDT by Paperdoll
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To: NonLinear
I think there is a distinct difference in a PAC and a church

You're correct. PACs - because of they way they are set up & run - are not subject to these same IRS regs. And nothing to my knowledge prevents a church from reincorporating as a PAC.

12 posted on 07/27/2006 8:41:18 AM PDT by gdani
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To: gdani
There's a real simple solution to all of this for churches -- abandon their tax-exempt status & electioneer as much as they want. Some conservative churches have done just that so they don't have to serve two masters.

As if it were that easy to get out of serving your government master. The government owns you. You are their slave, regardless of which church you attend. Did you think this was a free country or something?

The real answer is for the citizenry to wake up and reclaim their birthright of liberty. Ditching the 16th amendment and abolishing the IRS would be part of that. UNtil that happens, we're just houseslaves, some more happy than others.

13 posted on 07/27/2006 8:42:44 AM PDT by MichiganConservative (Government IS the problem.)
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To: gdani

Why it's relevant?

Who gave the right to free exercise of religion? The IRS?? What did churches do between 1789 and whenever the IRS showed up....apply for 501 status because they just sensed it would come about some day in the future?

The point is, of course, that none of your rights are granted you by men. They come from God. If they didn't, they'd just revoke the 1st amendment some day, and you'd be left talking to your dog for security purposes.

Another question: If I'm giving a hundred bucks as my worship of God, and you beat me up and take half of it away, was I able to worship God as MUCH as I wanted to?


14 posted on 07/27/2006 8:47:09 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: gdani
You're correct. PACs - because of they way they are set up & run - are not subject to these same IRS regs. And nothing to my knowledge prevents a church from reincorporating as a PAC.

I see, life isn't so bad. Our political masters and the overseer class, the bureaucrats, have set up classifications with regulations for our own good. But there are procedures for applying to change your classification so your speech falls under a different set of regulations. Follow their procedures and life is easy and you can say what you want inside the correct classifications, as long as it follows the corresponding regulations of speech. Seems like freedom to me.

15 posted on 07/27/2006 8:48:17 AM PDT by MichiganConservative (Government IS the problem.)
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To: xzins
One of the disappointments of helping to elect PUBS in the executive and legislative branches has been their willingness to support and pass new laws limiting our freedoms. CFR is just the tip of the iceberg.

It is especially frustrating to see the selective enforcement that the career bureaucrats practice.
16 posted on 07/27/2006 8:48:33 AM PDT by wmfights (Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The WAY!)
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To: xzins
Having been a lobbyist I know the difference between overt political influencing and simply sermonizing. While it is OK to talk about issues in the pulpit from a religious perspective, a church hosting a partisan campaign rally or openly campaigning for or against candidates is not permissible. This is true for all 501(c)(3) tax exempt non profits whether they are churches or other organizations.

This part of the tax exempt code is for CHARITIES and the organization must be doing some kind of charitable work to qualify ...hence donations made to 501(c)(3) organizations are deductible from personal income tax.

Note there are some other tax exempt organizations that CAN legally lobby particularly those approved under 501(c)(6)...for example industry trade associations. If an organization wants to lobby and remain exempt from federal income tax they can, but donations to that organization are not tax deductible.

17 posted on 07/27/2006 8:51:15 AM PDT by The Great RJ ("Mir wölle bleiwen wat mir sin" or "We want to remain what we are." ..Luxembourg motto)
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To: gdani
Actually, there's an even better solution as pointed out earlier. Get rid of the present income tax system that allows such control or, alternatively, penalizes those who do not agree with such control.

Pass the FairTax bill as the tax law for the country!! It eliminates the sort of controls mention in the first paragraph of this post. It will also increase purchasing power for almost every taxpayer AND it will greatly boost the economy of the country as well.

18 posted on 07/27/2006 8:53:32 AM PDT by pigdog
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To: gdani

What he said.


19 posted on 07/27/2006 8:54:56 AM PDT by 6ppc
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To: xzins

The IRS is flippin' evil.


20 posted on 07/27/2006 8:55:22 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: NonLinear
"The tax exempt status is related to churches being charitable organizations. It should not be used for a muzzle and leash."

The power to tax is the power to control behavior.
__________________________________________
"I do not believe the church should be going door-to-door or manning the phone lines to influence the vote for a candidate, but have not seen that happening either."

Why not?

If your a Christian and someone is running for office that opposes prayer in schools for example shouldn't you have the right to promote opposition to that candidate. The secular humanist's have the right to organize to promote candidates that find GOD to be toxic.
21 posted on 07/27/2006 8:55:44 AM PDT by wmfights (Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The WAY!)
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To: xzins
"I agree with my colleague Walter Jones of North Carolina that the political views of any particular church or its members are none of the government’s business."

Any government that opposes religious speech to the extent of outlawing the clerics' non-violent political speech does so because they fear religion and view it as competition. And what you end up with, basically, is Communism. Communism too allows Churches to stand and people to attend, but only in a government controlled system, and at a great risk of the loss of freedom to all who oppose their corrupt system of government. America is absolutly drifting in that direction, but I believe our Constitution will prevent it from happening to the extent our government would like to have it.

In any case, regardless of whether or not the government will yank the tax-free status of any Church that opposes its evil, corrupt "laws" like abortion and homosexual 'marriage', or prosecutes the clerics, the Church will never be under the foot of government for long, because its authority and power comes from God. As our Lord and Master proved 2,000 years ago, even when you kill the Church and put it in its grave, it rises again.

22 posted on 07/27/2006 8:57:36 AM PDT by TheCrusader
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To: xzins
The IRS can't take free speech from anyone. They can, however, take the tax exempt status from churches that engage in political speech and political messages. The whole tax exempt thing is based around that. If a church wants to discuss politics and have candidates campaign for office from the pulpit then they have to give up tax exempt status.

Seems resonable to me. Church wants its rights under the constitution, give up the right not to be taxed and they've got 'em!

23 posted on 07/27/2006 8:58:07 AM PDT by calex59 (The '86 amnesty put us in the toilet, now the senate wants to flush it!)
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To: xzins

"The heart of the issue is that the government shouldn't be in the business of taking anything that belongs to God."

Remove their tax exemption and they can say what they want.

Until then no fair!


24 posted on 07/27/2006 8:59:38 AM PDT by dalereed
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To: MichiganConservative
"...you can say what you want inside the correct classifications, as long as it follows the corresponding regulations of speech. Seems like freedom to me."
____________________________

Man! You are spot on the target!

I want my freedom. My freedom of worship. My freedom of assembly. My freedom of speech. My freedom from and overbearing nanny state govt. that wants to control all parts of my life "for my own good".
25 posted on 07/27/2006 9:01:22 AM PDT by wmfights (Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The WAY!)
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To: xzins
A Taxreform ping for you all.

There is no clause of the Constitution mandating a freedom of government from religion. Quite the contrary!!!

"The ONLY foundation for...a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be NO virtue,and without virtue there can be no liberty,and liberty is the OBJECT and life of all republican governments."
---Benjamin Rush...Founding Father

If anyone would like to be added to this ping list let me know.

John Linder in the House(HR25) & Saxby Chambliss Senate(S25) offer a comprehensive bill to kill all federal income, SS/Medicare payroll, and gift/estate taxes outright replacing them with with a national retail sales tax administered by the states.

H.R.25,S.25
A bill to promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national retail sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.

Refer for additional information:


26 posted on 07/27/2006 9:02:42 AM PDT by ancient_geezer (Don't reform it, Replace it.)
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To: gdani
Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?

Explain why that's relevant.

God help you then, if you think it's not relevant. And do us a favor and don't run for office.
27 posted on 07/27/2006 9:04:27 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: dalereed

Why do they need tax exemption in the first place?

Do away with the IRS and do away with most of the domestic terrorism in the US. The IRS is a much bigger threat to the common American than any rag head terrorist. Make them cease to exist. Put their liberal employees out on the street to make an honest living like everyone else.

Support the Fair Tax.


28 posted on 07/27/2006 9:04:30 AM PDT by Concho ((I'd rather be hunting.))
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To: gdani

Let me guess, you work at the IRS, right?


29 posted on 07/27/2006 9:07:26 AM PDT by Concho ((I'd rather be hunting.))
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To: pigdog
Pass the FairTax bill as the tax law for the country!!

The IRS is the only govt organization that can arrest you and seize your property without warrants or due process of law. The sooner we are rid of the IRS the better off we'll be.
30 posted on 07/27/2006 9:08:30 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: calex59
Church wants its rights under the constitution, give up the right not to be taxed and they've got 'em!

Where do you think churches get their money, and to whom does the individual attender give it, and for what purpose?

A church is individuals....that's what the word means.

My $100 bucks to God is in worship of God. If you take even a dime of it, you have told me I'm not allowed to worship God as much as I wanted to.

31 posted on 07/27/2006 9:08:40 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: xzins

The most invasive, unconstitutional agency ever created, threaten our liberties?! Who'd a thunk it?


32 posted on 07/27/2006 9:09:11 AM PDT by vpintheak (All other ground is sinking sand.)
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To: xzins

"Five years ago, I wrote about threats made by the Internal Revenue Service against conservative churches for supposedly engaging in politicking. Today, the IRS is again attempting to chill free speech, sending notices to more than 15,000 non-profit organizations—including churches—regarding its new crackdown on political activity. "

I don't think clergymen should be preaching politics from the pulpit.

For every conservative clergyman out there ignored by the popular media, there is a pack of Methodist, Prebyterian and Episcopalian anti-war, anti-gun, pro-illegal alien, pro-sodomite "Christian" revisionists sqealing like so many swine from the pulpits and given mass coverage by the media.

Tax 'em if they politicize - but tax 'em equally.

The conservatives will come out ahead.


33 posted on 07/27/2006 9:09:57 AM PDT by ZULU (Non nobis, non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: TheCrusader
Any government that opposes religious speech to the extent of outlawing the clerics' non-violent political speech does so because they fear religion and view it as competition.

Of course they do. Govt wants you to bow down and call it master. They don't like Christians because we have a different Master and they don't like it.
34 posted on 07/27/2006 9:10:01 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: GSlob
"Then abolish the tax-exempt status of that [and other] church[es] and charitable tax exemption for its members and other individuals - and everyone will live happily ever after."

Back when people still had brains, they gave the Churches tax-free status to help them go about their business of feeding and housing the poor so that government wouldn't have to burdon the taxpayers with this massive expense. Government also recognized that religion was necessary to the morality, honesty and decency of its people, and was a strong ally of government's own laws. But that was back before the government and the Courts began instituting evil "laws" like abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornographer's "rights" and thought crimes, ('hate' crimes). It was back when government respected peoples' rights and didn't see itself as a seperate entity from the people; and back when brains and reason still reigned over idiocy and insanity.

35 posted on 07/27/2006 9:10:07 AM PDT by TheCrusader
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To: xzins
My $100 bucks to God is in worship of God. If you take even a dime of it, you have told me I'm not allowed to worship God as much as I wanted to.

Uh, no. But nice try. Tax-exempt status is granted for charitable works.

36 posted on 07/27/2006 9:10:30 AM PDT by dirtboy (Glad to see the ink was still working in Bush's veto pen, now that he wisely used it on this bill)
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To: ancient_geezer

You are absolutely correct. There would not be this power grab by the government over religion if there were no income tax.


37 posted on 07/27/2006 9:10:49 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: MichiganConservative
Follow their procedures and life is easy and you can say what you want inside the correct classifications, as long as it follows the corresponding regulations of speech. Seems like freedom to me

A true lack of freedom would be if churches were forced to be non-profits & therefore abide by these IRS regs. They are not forced. When they accept non-profit status, they accept the limitations.

The Govt has given them an out. Whether a church chooses to exercise that option is completely up to the church.

38 posted on 07/27/2006 9:11:19 AM PDT by gdani
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To: dirtboy

No...what???

Either 100 bucks goes for God's work or it doesn't?

If the government takes even one red cent, then they are interfering in my gift to God. Period.


39 posted on 07/27/2006 9:12:14 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: GSlob

Perfect. Then abolish the tax-exempt status of that [and other] church[es] and charitable tax exemption for its members and other individuals -

Bull!!! Abolish all attempts to regulate the free speech of any tax-exempt organization.

Congress has no power whatsoever to make any law in this area abridging free speech, whether such be religous or political!!!

Tax law is no exception to the prohibitions on government in the 1st Amendment.

Constitution 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.


40 posted on 07/27/2006 9:12:49 AM PDT by ancient_geezer (Don't reform it, Replace it.)
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To: pgyanke

So you would be OK with a priest saying that if you don't volunteer or at least vote for a certain person or party they will then deny you sacraments?

I have no problem with churches speaking out on moral issues, but when they equate being faithful to God with supporting a party or person (or appear to do so) they cross the line, the same line that keeps the government from establishing a state church. Do you want a state religion?


41 posted on 07/27/2006 9:14:05 AM PDT by Grig
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To: calex59

That is not the traditional and historical view that our government and populace have had toward houses of faith.

Why should it change now?


42 posted on 07/27/2006 9:14:24 AM PDT by Praxeus
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To: dalereed
Remove their tax exemption and they can say what they want.

What if the IRS comes up with some rule that you can't engage in political speech and keep your mortgage deduction?

Give it up, and you can say what you want. In the meantime, they're giving you a benefit, so you better shut up.

43 posted on 07/27/2006 9:14:36 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: dirtboy
Uh, no.

Actually, yes, but you clearly don't understand that, so I'll quite wasting my time.
44 posted on 07/27/2006 9:14:53 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: The Great RJ
a church hosting a partisan campaign rally or openly campaigning for or against candidates is not permissible. This is true for all 501(c)(3) tax exempt non profits whether they are churches or other organizations.

Of course, we have seen in recent years that some animals are more equal than others. Bubba, Jesse, Al, and that ilk routinely held what can only be called partisan campaign rallies in ostensible houses of worship.

As long as the "right" people benefit, the practice will continue.

45 posted on 07/27/2006 9:16:01 AM PDT by thulldud ("Para ingles, oprima el dos.")
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To: JamesP81
God help you then, if you think it's not relevant

The only way that it's relevant is that most churches have voluntarily decided to cede what would otherwise be a constitutional right to free speech in order to be tax-exempt. Once again, no one forces them to do so.

Sounds like your beef should be with those churches, not me.

46 posted on 07/27/2006 9:16:24 AM PDT by gdani
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To: ZULU
I don't think clergymen should be preaching politics from the pulpit.

It's nice that you are allowed to think that.

But what if it IS THERE RELIGION to comment on politics from the pulpit?

That was the religion of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, all the other prophets, John the Baptist, and Jesus.

47 posted on 07/27/2006 9:16:36 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: gdani
Sounds like your beef should be with those churches, not me.

My beef is with so-called conservatives that seem to think using the IRS to railroad churches into not saying stuff it doesn't like is just peachy.

I'm not as big of a fairtax acolyte as some, but this is exactly why we need a national sales tax. This would not be an issue if we didn't have the IRS and the 30,000 page, arcane, and completely confusing tax code.
48 posted on 07/27/2006 9:19:19 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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To: xzins

They didn't have income taxes back then, or my guess is they would have been taxed if they preached politics - which I'm not sure all of them did anyway.

Remember, its only the SECOND oldest "profession"


49 posted on 07/27/2006 9:19:36 AM PDT by ZULU (Non nobis, non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: MichiganConservative
If we were to bring the FairTax into being as our tax law, the income and payroll taxes and appropriate portions of the tax code would be eliminated along with gift taxes and estate taxes.

In addition, the IRS would be eliminated (and for good measure defunded), the income tax records would be required to be destroyed and the 16th amendment is identified as being something that should be repealed (the FairTax bill is a tax bill and cannot also be a constitutional amendment repeal bill). There is, however, such a repeal bill before the House at present.

50 posted on 07/27/2006 9:19:46 AM PDT by pigdog
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