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6 congressmen live in house subsidized by religious group
Arizona Republic ^ | 4/21/03

Posted on 04/21/2003 6:45:29 AM PDT by areafiftyone

Edited 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 ...

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: biblestudy; christian; conspiracy; crook; fellowship; misleading; phoney
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1 posted on 04/21/2003 6:45:29 AM PDT by areafiftyone
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To: areafiftyone
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.)

I’d pay $600 a month to not live in this place.

2 posted on 04/21/2003 6:48:51 AM PDT by dead
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To: areafiftyone
One of the most amusing things I've heard was the absolute demolition of Barry Lynn by James White on a debate about homosexuality.
3 posted on 04/21/2003 6:49:27 AM PDT by wideawake (Support our troops and their Commander-in-Chief)
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To: dead
LOL! Actually, as memory serves, $600 a month for a room in a private home is about the going rate in the Capital, isn't it? There's a bit of a cottage industry renting out basements and so forth there.

I'm not sure they're getting that much of a price break. If they're happy, who cares?

4 posted on 04/21/2003 6:52:48 AM PDT by TontoKowalski
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To: areafiftyone
Hey, not everyone is Hillary Clinton and therefore capable of commanding an 8 million dollar book advance and a 'loan' from Terry McCaulife to purchace a couple of houses, let alone furnish them with articles from the White House.

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.

5 posted on 04/21/2003 6:53:17 AM PDT by DoctorMichael ("Communists are Liberals in a hurry". ~Eleanor Roosevelt)
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To: areafiftyone
What a good idea! All for it. Only today in our upside down world would anyone consider such an arrangement "scandalous". Substitute: Brothel and subsidized by Playboy - and nobody would bat an eye....
6 posted on 04/21/2003 6:55:23 AM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: TontoKowalski
$600 per month per room in a $1.1 million place? Yeah, they are getting a price break. I encourage you to try to find a room for rent in a place that costs that much, for $600 a month.
7 posted on 04/21/2003 6:56:14 AM PDT by dogbyte12 (.)
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To: areafiftyone
"What concerns people is when you mix religion, political power, and secrecy," Lynn said.

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.

8 posted on 04/21/2003 6:56:32 AM PDT by Mr. Bird
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To: areafiftyone
"What concerns people is when you mix religion, political power, and secrecy," Lynn said.

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.

9 posted on 04/21/2003 7:01:46 AM PDT by Corin Stormhands (HHD, FRM, RFA)
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To: dogbyte12
I encourage you to try to find a room for rent in a place that costs that much, for $600 a month.

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.

10 posted on 04/21/2003 7:02:01 AM PDT by Mr. Bird
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To: DoctorMichael
Personally I couldn't care less where the congressmen sleep. They can sleep in a homeless shelter for all I care. It is this part that irks me!

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.

11 posted on 04/21/2003 7:02:09 AM PDT by areafiftyone (The U.N. needs a good Flush!)
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To: dead
My school wasn't Catholic, but it was private and religious.

I'm with you.
12 posted on 04/21/2003 7:03:21 AM PDT by Cathryn Crawford (Winning isn't everything, but losing is nothing.)
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To: areafiftyone
Rev. Barry Lynn, a United Church of Christ minister

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.


13 posted on 04/21/2003 7:03:44 AM PDT by BibChr (LIBERALISM = choices without consequences)
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To: Mr. Bird
Here is my issue. I have no problem whatsoever with the religious faith of these congress members. However, issues relating to faith come up before congress.

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.

14 posted on 04/21/2003 7:04:56 AM PDT by dogbyte12 (.)
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To: areafiftyone
Dear areafiftyone,

If I'm reading this right, the congressmen's rents are not being subsidized.

The townhouse has three floors, the first two of which are used by the organization that owns the house. The congressmen all appear to live in rooms on one floor.

The value of the home is placed at $1.1 million, by the author of the article. Housing prices in the Washington, DC area have risen dramatically in the past few years, and it would be fair to assume that the purchase price of the house was something less than $1.1 million. But for the sake of argument, let's say the current owners paid $1.1 million, and financed the entire amount (unlikely, but it is the worst case). Assuming an interest rate of 7.5% (I did a no-doc refinance in the fall for around 6.5%), the monthly mortgage amount here is about $7,700 per month. Property taxes are probably about $1,000 per month or less.

Thus, the owners of the property are receiving rent in the amount of $3,600 for one-third of a property costing about $8,700 per month. The break-even point for that one-third of the property is about $2,900 per month. The property's owners, even assuming the worst-case facts, have a positive cash flow on the part of the property that they rent out. If they have owned the property for a little while, then they likely paid substantially less, meaning that their positive cash flow is even greater. On this basis, it's hard to say that these rents are "subsidized". Thus, the underlying premise of the article is false.

15 posted on 04/21/2003 7:09:16 AM PDT by sitetest
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To: areafiftyone
Didn't Barney Frank have to rent out some of his rooms a few years ago?
16 posted on 04/21/2003 7:12:24 AM PDT by ladyjane
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To: areafiftyone
That secrecy is unsettling to the Rev. Barry Lynn, a United Church of Christ minister who heads the watchdog group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

The AUSCS is as scabrous a group as Pax Christi and Barry Lynn manipulates history to serve his own ends. Since this is related to what I posted on another thread, I'll post it here:
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.--NetValue

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

Lest 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, 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.

17 posted on 04/21/2003 7:13:32 AM PDT by aruanan
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: sitetest
Thus, the underlying premise of the article is false.

How dare you bring truth into a matter as important as the so-called Constitutional separation of church and state?
19 posted on 04/21/2003 7:16:00 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: dogbyte12
Shall we look at each Congressman's Washington accomodations to make sure he's not paying lower-than-market-value rent to a well-heeled landlord. $600 may seem low but I can see where that might be reasonable given the potential lack of privacy that might be involved in such a house. (These don't sound like fully-furnished one or two bedroom apartments. Also, $1.1 million is not too much for assessed value, given that there are 6 tenants on a single floor.)
20 posted on 04/21/2003 7:17:48 AM PDT by AmishDude
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