Skip to comments.6 congressmen live in house subsidized by religious group
Posted on 04/21/2003 6:45:29 AM PDT by areafiftyoneEdited on 05/07/2004 5:21:14 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
WASHINGTON - Six members of Congress live in a $1.1 million Capitol Hill townhouse that is subsidized by a secretive religious organization, tax records show.
The lawmakers, all Christians, pay low rent to live in the stately red brick, three-story house on C Street, two blocks from the Capitol. It is maintained by a group alternately known as the "Fellowship" and the "Foundation" that brings together world leaders and elected officials through religion.
(Excerpt) Read more at azcentral.com ...
Its tenants dine together once a week to discuss religion in their daily lives. "We do have a Bible study," said DeMint, a Presbyterian who asked to move into the house less than a year ago when there was a vacancy. "Somebody'll share a verse or a thought, but mostly it's more of an accountability group to talk about things that are going on in our lives, and how we're dealing with them."
I did nine years in the big house (Catholic school.)
Id pay $600 a month to not live in this place.
I'm not sure they're getting that much of a price break. If they're happy, who cares?
How about Stephanopoulous's deal that enabled him to purchase a Georgetown townhouse?
OTOH.........A number of congessmen like Dick Armey literally slept in their offices because the Washington area is so expensive.
I'd like Lynn to illustrate how six people of both political parties, comprising 1.1% of the congressional membership, are in any way endangering the Republic. This appears to be a complete non-issue.
And just exactly what is Lynn doing?
I don't know these congressmen, but I know several people very involved with the Fellowship. It is loosely organized for the purpose of ministry, not to influence public policy.
I lived in DC, worked on the Hill and attended church on the Hill for eight years. Pretty much the only way single people can live on the Hill is to share a house (even at Congressional salary levels).
There's no "story" here, other than Lynn's continual quest to stir up trouble.
It's not that hard to contemplate, given that the building is a church. These guys are paying $600/month for a room. Their payments combined probably cover more than half the mortgage cost on the building, and the owners are probably restricted from turning a profit based on their status. This is not the big deal you presume it to be.
It organizes the annual National Prayer Breakfast attended by the president, members of Congress and dignitaries from around the world. The group leaves its name off the program, even though it spent $924,373 to host the event in 2001, according to the most recent available IRS records, and pays travel expenses for foreign officials to attend.
I'd like to see his Statement of Faith. I'd also like to see his ordination papers. If he wrote a thesis, that might be worth a glance. Maybe a sermon or two.
If he's any indication, UCC ordinations must be available in boxes of Cracker Jacks.
Faith baised initiative ring a bell? That is just on the money side. How does this organization feel about it? Do they feel it's a good thing? Or are they like some conservative religious groups who believe that it is an unwelcome marriage between the feds and the church?
There is a money issue here. Opening up federal funds to faith baised ministries, could potentially create a lot of money for a large ministry.
If this was Ford, Microsoft, AT&T or any other group giving subsidized housing to members of congress, the issue would be alot clearer.
I do not like this. I do believe that $600 rent for a room in a $1.1 million spread is subsidized housing, and it needs to stop. I have no problem if these folks actually pay market rate and live there... no subsidies though. It's wrong.
Methodists, indeed any church, should be free to engage in political activities...but not with a tax exemption. This church needs to be audited for compliance with the "no politics" rules for their tax exemption.--NetValueLest anyone should think I was way out of bounds with my final sentence and consider it to be a personal comment or a flame or a personal put-down when, as he may think, all we have is a difference of opinion:
No church should be prevented from speaking on any matter, political or otherwise. Nor should its tax-exempt status depend on this. It never did before until relatively recently when, for political purposes, churches were throttled by making their ab initio tax exemption depend on keeping quiet about political matters. Le[earn] a bit more history on the subject, because in this area your net value is zero.--aruanan
No, I made no personal put-down, attack, or flame. Nor is our difference merely one of opinion. A difference of opinion is merely a difference in tastes--you like expresso roast, I prefer Ethiopian Sidamo--but a difference in matters of fact requires that someone be closer or farther from the truth. I described the content value of your observation in the historical context.
Tax exempt status of churches antedated Lyndon Johnson's successful attack on the First Amendment in 1954 when he introduced a bill requiring that all non-profit organizations refrain from "political speech" to maintain their tax-exempt status. It passed without debate. This was the beginning of the rape of the First Amendment. The recent campaign finance "reform" laws continued the assault. Of course, Johnson's action, like the more recent ones, was simply a politician using the power of government to protect his own personal interests. After his reelection it was discovered that he had done this to shut down a couple of non-profit, anti-communist Texas organizations that were opposing his primary re-election bid.
The sneaky thing in all this is the twisted logic used when folks claim that tax-exemption constitutes a funding of the organization and that whoever does the funding, the government in this case, should control the speech, "Hey, you want to say whatever you want to? Then give up your tax-exempt status." But church tax-exempt status doesn't originate in laws controlling not-for-profit organizations but came from the First Amendment. It was later that tax-exempt status was extended to non-church-related not-for-profit organizations; at first, in addition to churches, tax-exemption was enjoyed by "charitable" organizations that provided service to the poor or relief of poverty. Church organizations usually provided these services. Tax-exempt status was gradually extended to organizations said to be providing a "benefit" to the community.
But church tax-exempt status antedates all this as well as all the laws that were created to define and to govern not-for-profit organizations. Church tax-exempt status is not a creature of these regulations. It exists apart from them in the understanding that the First Amendment prohibition on Congress giving special treatment to one church over others also meant that Congress couldn't screw over one church over others and that the prohibition on Congress with regard to establishments of religion meant that it could neither levy taxes on churches nor prohibit their freedom of practice (which included their freedom of speech).
The attitude referenced above also assumes that free speech is something that one is granted by the government in exchange for the payment of taxes. This has never been the case. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of the church, together with the consent of the governed, have been seen as the necessary conditions, not for a "democratic government", but for a free society. The government exists only for the purpose of protecting that society and for ensuring its continued freedom. This is why the current campaign finance reform laws and why Johnson's sneak attack on the Constitution [as well as the actions of Rev. Barry Lynn, et al] are literally an assault on that society whose liberty the government was instituted to protect.
Your take on the situation appeared to be in ignorance of its historical background. Because the tax-exempt status of churches antedated Johnson's conflating them with other non-profit organizations and because they, as any other organization, profit (as in newspapers) or non-profit (voluntary social action groups), had, ab initio, a First Amendment right to freedom of speech, your suggestion that they could say anything they wanted if they gave up their tax-exempt status was without either historical or Constitutional foundation. As such, it had a net value of zero.