Skip to comments.IRS Threatens Political Speech
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 organizationsincluding churchesregarding 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 amendments 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 governments 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.
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.
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.
Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?
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!!!
Explain why that's relevant.
It's okay - the American left assured me that the Constitution was never intended for Conservatives. Just themselves.
>Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?
>Explain why that is relevant.<
Explain why it is not.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
What he said.
The IRS is flippin' evil.
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.
Seems resonable to me. Church wants its rights under the constitution, give up the right not to be taxed and they've got 'em!
"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!
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.
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:
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.
Let me guess, you work at the IRS, right?
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.
The most invasive, unconstitutional agency ever created, threaten our liberties?! Who'd a thunk it?
"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 organizationsincluding churchesregarding 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.
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.
Uh, no. But nice try. Tax-exempt status is granted for charitable works.
You are absolutely correct. There would not be this power grab by the government over religion if there were no income tax.
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.
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.
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.
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?
That is not the traditional and historical view that our government and populace have had toward houses of faith.
Why should it change now?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"
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.