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Sat Nov 22, 2014, 09:51 PM

Should Churches Be Taxed?

So I finally got Star membership and thought I'd celebrate by uploading my own avatar (same one use on everything) and creating my first poll in ages.

Simple question: Should churches be taxed?
92 votes, 1 pass | Time left: Unlimited
Yes
62 (67%)
No
15 (16%)
Yes, but exempt their charitable actions (i.e. soup kitchens)
14 (15%)
I like clicking things
1 (1%)
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Disclaimer: This is an Internet poll

159 replies, 10554 views

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Arrow 159 replies Author Time Post
Reply Should Churches Be Taxed? (Original post)
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 OP
QuebecYank Nov 2014 #1
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #2
joeglow3 Nov 2014 #16
QuebecYank Nov 2014 #30
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #40
Munificence Nov 2014 #77
Emelina Nov 2014 #75
Wella Nov 2014 #3
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #4
Wella Nov 2014 #5
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #6
Wella Nov 2014 #8
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #12
Wella Nov 2014 #14
TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #90
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #94
TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #95
cbayer Nov 2014 #124
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #143
cbayer Nov 2014 #146
cbayer Nov 2014 #123
branford Nov 2014 #7
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #10
branford Nov 2014 #17
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #21
branford Nov 2014 #23
Major Nikon Nov 2014 #68
TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #91
cbayer Nov 2014 #125
Niko Nov 2014 #9
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #11
Niko Nov 2014 #15
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #18
Niko Nov 2014 #34
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #37
MADem Nov 2014 #52
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #53
MADem Nov 2014 #55
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #56
branford Nov 2014 #60
MADem Nov 2014 #61
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #88
MADem Nov 2014 #93
Oktober Nov 2014 #62
stone space Nov 2014 #80
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #87
Niko Nov 2014 #65
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #86
trotsky Nov 2014 #107
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #108
trotsky Nov 2014 #109
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #110
trotsky Nov 2014 #111
el_bryanto Nov 2014 #131
trotsky Nov 2014 #132
el_bryanto Nov 2014 #138
trotsky Nov 2014 #141
Niko Nov 2014 #147
el_bryanto Nov 2014 #148
Niko Nov 2014 #150
el_bryanto Nov 2014 #151
Maedhros Nov 2014 #137
cbayer Nov 2014 #127
Oktober Nov 2014 #59
sarcasmo Nov 2014 #81
branford Nov 2014 #20
Niko Nov 2014 #29
branford Nov 2014 #32
Niko Nov 2014 #35
branford Nov 2014 #38
hrmjustin Nov 2014 #74
Niko Nov 2014 #82
hrmjustin Nov 2014 #83
Post removed Nov 2014 #106
cbayer Nov 2014 #126
el_bryanto Nov 2014 #130
Niko Nov 2014 #149
el_bryanto Nov 2014 #152
ismnotwasm Nov 2014 #134
branford Nov 2014 #140
flvegan Nov 2014 #13
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #19
branford Nov 2014 #22
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #25
flvegan Nov 2014 #24
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #26
flvegan Nov 2014 #28
branford Nov 2014 #27
Arugula Latte Nov 2014 #136
branford Nov 2014 #139
Arugula Latte Nov 2014 #142
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #158
Oktober Nov 2014 #63
Logical Nov 2014 #97
Droning Predator Nov 2014 #31
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #33
Jamastiene Nov 2014 #36
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #39
branford Nov 2014 #45
Initech Nov 2014 #41
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #42
Initech Nov 2014 #43
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #44
branford Nov 2014 #46
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #49
branford Nov 2014 #58
Tierra_y_Libertad Nov 2014 #47
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #48
Tierra_y_Libertad Nov 2014 #54
BeanMusical Nov 2014 #50
MADem Nov 2014 #51
pnwmom Nov 2014 #57
NancyDL Nov 2014 #64
hrmjustin Nov 2014 #66
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #144
bigwillq Nov 2014 #67
hrmjustin Nov 2014 #69
Lars39 Nov 2014 #70
hrmjustin Nov 2014 #71
Lars39 Nov 2014 #72
hrmjustin Nov 2014 #73
LWolf Nov 2014 #76
truebluegreen Nov 2014 #78
northoftheborder Nov 2014 #79
branford Nov 2014 #84
SoCalDem Nov 2014 #85
TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #89
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #92
TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #96
ScreamingMeemie Nov 2014 #98
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #99
davidpdx Nov 2014 #100
Notafraidtoo Nov 2014 #101
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #103
ileus Nov 2014 #102
demwing Nov 2014 #104
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #105
Calista241 Nov 2014 #112
ProfessorGAC Nov 2014 #113
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #114
ProfessorGAC Nov 2014 #116
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #118
ProfessorGAC Nov 2014 #121
hifiguy Nov 2014 #115
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #117
Xithras Nov 2014 #119
Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #120
cbayer Nov 2014 #122
spanone Nov 2014 #128
upaloopa Nov 2014 #129
branford Nov 2014 #133
Iggo Nov 2014 #135
savalez Nov 2014 #145
louis-t Nov 2014 #153
branford Nov 2014 #155
louis-t Nov 2014 #156
branford Nov 2014 #157
PDJane Nov 2014 #154
SylviaD Nov 2014 #159

Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 10:27 PM

1. Hell, yes!

We've seen how the Mormons threw their weight around concerning Proposition 8 in California. There's been more mixing of politics and religion with the Right-wing parties, then in the past. I can envision seeing a candidate (religious leader), representing the Tea Party, running for President. I can also see the US, getting involved in a religious war. There seems to be a panicked, desperate shift by religious leaders, to imprint their beliefs onto the GOP and TP. Common sense, has evaporated. Threats of violence, racist and homophobic insults, and even redefining the text of the Constitution. All of this and more done to support their hatred, their intolerance, their need to basically create a Christian version of Shari'a law, among other things. It needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, the topic of religion seems to be a forbidden one, when it comes to the media.

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Response to QuebecYank (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 10:47 PM

2. Does that call for them ALL to be taxed though?

Or should taxation be used as a punishment for playing at politics? And yes, I know teh IRS doesn't do it's job, I'm speaking as a hypothetical.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:59 PM

16. Churches can play politics. Just can't endorse or oppose individual candidates.

 

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:38 AM

30. Tax 'Em All!!!

The Catholic Church owns lots of real estate, throughout the world. Not only that, they are also one of the top proprietors of hospitals in the USA. With them owning hospitals, they can enforce their beliefs (such as no abortions), onto their patients. Religion, is a business. Movies, are a business. Their product is films. With religion, their product is faith, a chance in the afterlife. No matter the business, all it's customers, must pay a price. We live in a society where we're afraid to discuss not just religion. But religion, as a business. The preachers of all the different faiths, are living the lives of Hollywood celebrities. Bentleys, mansions, jewelry, furs, etc. They've amassed fortunes by manipulated the poor, the handicapped, the lonely, etc. Preachers are nothing but snake oil salesmen peddling a spiritual fix-all that cures nothing. While draining the bank accounts of the elderly, and the downtrodden. Religion, like all businesses enlarge themselves on power (which = $$$), through corruption and greed. And in order to get more power, they hop into bed with politicians. Religious leaders want to dictate laws to the politicians, and get them to have schools used as places to indoctrinate children. Creating Christian Soldiers, who are willing to fight their fellow Americans. All the more reason to tax them.

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Response to QuebecYank (Reply #30)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:13 AM

40. Rather a broad bursh, I think

There are religions that don't even have preachers, for example. I would suggest you're conflating fundamentalism (which is a menace, I agree) with religion in general. Fundies don't really exist here (UK).

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Response to QuebecYank (Reply #30)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:52 AM

77. Wait

Did you just describe "The Church" or our government?

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Response to QuebecYank (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:47 AM

75. Keep the government out of churches and synogogues

The last thing we need is one more part of the culture becoming a slave to the NSA apparatus.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:27 PM

3. I think a lot depends on the church and what percentage of its holdings go to charity

 

and to education.

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Response to Wella (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:30 PM

4. What would you consider an acceptable percentage?

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:36 PM

5. Not totally sure. I'd have to have more info on general operating expenses

 

I think it's important, though, to look at the good works these churches are doing and sniff out the greedy and the fraudulent.

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Response to Wella (Reply #5)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:41 PM

6. That's fair enough

That's why I included option 3.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:45 PM

8. I saw that, but it leaves out education

 

And I thought a percentage measure was probably a more accurate way to assess what the church was actually doing. Some churches run orphanages and schools in poor areas across the world. One Lutheran church I know had a large focus (money and time) on an orphanage in Mexico. Many church members had actually done some time down there, helping build the place or helping the kids with clothing, food, teachers, education, etc. Those are good people and we don't want to discourage that kind of activity. It truly derives from the Gospel.

On the other hand, you've got very wealthy preachers who are busy making personal financial empires and doing very little for the needy. They are "false prophets" if you want to get Biblical about it. These people abuse religion and their earnings need to be taxed like any business.

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Response to Wella (Reply #8)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:51 PM

12. I can't get Biblical about it

Being a Luciferian, I don't have teh room to do a No True Scotsman about things. I get what you're saying though.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #12)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:54 PM

14. Fair enough.

 

.

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Response to Wella (Reply #8)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:34 PM

90. Anyone paid a salary is taxed already

And, personally, I don't see how people support and pay these wealthy pastors.

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Response to TexasMommaWithAHat (Reply #90)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:38 PM

94. Tithes generally

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #94)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:46 PM

95. I meant from a "moral" perspective

My family attended a somewhat wealthy church in the 'burbs for a while (maybe 2,000 members?), but the pastor was not paid an inordinate amount of money. Nice building, nice playground, nice assets - all paid for by the members pooling their resources together. There was no "profit" involved. People gave money to support the church, and apparently got something out of it. And they did do a fair amount of charitable work, including a sister church in the inner city.

It wasn't for me (although I am a non-denominational Christian), but I don't see why they should be taxed when they are not making a profit.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #6)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:13 PM

124. Option three is not a good option, because that is the status quo.

Of course no one seems to know that and just vote from their emotional base.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #124)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:07 PM

143. Being British, I didn't know how US tax law works.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #143)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:12 PM

146. See #122 for an overview.

Being British isn't the issue. Most people from the US get this completely wrong, and that's evident in the thread.

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Response to Wella (Reply #3)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:13 PM

123. Well, that's good because that is what happens currently.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:45 PM

7. Churches are usually tax exempt because they are non-profit.

 

Moreover, although non-profits are not supposed to directly campaign, they are certainly entitled to hold strong opinions on a variety of political issues.

It would most assuredly be unconstitutional to permit tax-exemptions for non-profits, but carve-out religious organizations.

They proper question to ask is whether any group that even remotely engages in what can be construed as politics should lose their tax exemption. However, if such a rule or law passed, a great number of notable liberal and progressive organizations would easily fall under its rubric and be devastated, including left-wing churches.

Be very careful what you wish for.

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Response to branford (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:49 PM

10. I was under the impression that was already the law

As I understood it, churches which play at politics are supposed to lose their tax-exempt status (if the IRS bothered enforcing that law, which they don't).

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:01 AM

17. The area of law is a little wobbly, and not my personal area of expertise.

 

It is my understanding that non-profits cannot engage in campaigning, but that does not mean they cannot hold positions on issues of political importance such as abortion, same sex marriage, foreign policy, etc. The distinction between these types of activities is more than a small nuance.

Moreover, as a practical matter, when non-profits sometimes "inadvertently" campaign, it usually is politely ignored by the authorities. The reason is simple, strict enforcement would hurt everyone, regardless of political persuasion. For instance, if the authorities tried punish the Mormons, politically active liberal groups like Planned Parenthood and numerous environmental groups would invariably suffer a similar and unpleasant fate. Think of the current state of affairs as a sort of mutually assured destruction.

I would also note that a number of non-profits actually maintain a related, yet legally separate entity, for campaigning and lobbying purposes. The most prominent example is the NRA. While the actual NRA is still meticulously a shooting sports and gun safety organization, it's NRA-ILA political arm is a political powerhouse, yet not tax exempt.


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Response to branford (Reply #17)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:05 AM

21. Sure but...

...I'm thinking of things Like Freedom Sunday when preachers (exclusively Republianity preachers) deliberately violate the law by endorsing politicians in the pulpit, videotape it and mail it to teh IRS, daring them to enforce the law.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #21)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:12 AM

23. As I said, mutually assured destruction.

 

It really isn't too difficult to find officers and agents of liberal non-profit groups discussing candidates or interacting with preferred politicians and campaigns, including actual endorsements and fundraisers.

There's a reason why Planned Parenthood and the WWF are not demanding action by the IRS concerning their opponents.

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Response to branford (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 09:57 AM

68. Non-profit does not mean tax exempt

Non-profit organizations, including churches, must meet specific requirements in order to be tax exempt. I'm on the board of a non-profit that does not have tax exempt status and can't qualify for it. The federal requirements are laid out in sections 503-505 and each state has their own requirements.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/subtitle-A/chapter-1/subchapter-F/part-I

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Response to branford (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:35 PM

91. +1

nt

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Response to branford (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:14 PM

125. This is the right answer. I'm glad you get it.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:48 PM

9. Churches shouldn't even be legal

 

Selling an invisible product. On every other occasion, that's called fraud and people are prosecuted for it.

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Response to Niko (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:50 PM

11. And that's just extremist nonsense n/t

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #11)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:56 PM

15. Want to know what's extremist?

 

Teaching children to believe in factual falsehoods to such a psychologically damaging extent that it continues into adulthood, only so those adults can continue the cycle by teaching their children the same, while people collect billions in revenue from those factual falsehoods and don't even have to pay taxes to boot.

I'd highly recommend The God Delusion if you're willing to help yourself by freeing yourself from the shackles.

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Response to Niko (Reply #15)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:03 AM

18. Yes, yes, you've fulfilled your proselytizing quota

Proselytizing atheists are just as tiresome as proselytizing believers. Your kind of atheist is just as bad as the fundie, you're all convinced that not only do you have The Truth (tm) but you have to share it with others. Oh, and claiming to have "factual" anything is just a lie. You have probabilities and opinions, not facts.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #18)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:52 AM

34. Atheists can't proselytize

 

There's facts, and there's fiction. And religion is fiction, period.

The conversion of beliefs from fiction to fact is not proselytization, it's education.

It is a LIE that Earth is 6000 years old. It is a LIE that humans lived with the dinosaurs. It is a LIE that a virgin gave birth. It is a LIE that a man can be raised from the dead. It is a LIE that a man built a boat and put 2 of every animal on it. It is a LIE that humanity started from one man and one woman who didn't evolve from any common ancestor.

The claims of religion are scientifically falsifiable. They are not my "opinions". If you want to go on believing falsehoods, you have every right. I draw the line at people taking money by perpetuating those falsehoods, and indoctrinating children into those falsehoods.

Thankfully, some people grow out of it, but those are too few and far between, and it's arguably the most dangerous force on the planet right now in an age where humanity has the ability to destroy itself. If not through war, then through climate change, or the depletion of resources to the point of mass starvation, all because humanity can't get past it's infancy that is religion.

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Response to Niko (Reply #34)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:03 AM

37. Bullshit

Of course you can proselytize and are doing so right here.

It is a LIE that Earth is 6000 years old. It is a LIE that humans lived with the dinosaurs. It is a LIE that a virgin gave birth. It is a LIE that a man can be raised from the dead. It is a LIE that a man built a boat and put 2 of every animal on it. It is a LIE that humanity started from one man and one woman who didn't evolve from any common ancestor.


Yes, all lies I agree. But your claim that it is a fact that there is no god is also a lie. It's not a fact, it's your opinion. Your sneering contempt for believers is duly noted but I'm afraid it wins you no points. Your proselytizing is pointless.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #37)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:29 AM

52. I agree with you. I went and googled and I was shocked at the number of articles

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Response to MADem (Reply #52)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:34 AM

53. It's actually not all that common

Most atheists are perfectly happy to just ignore us believers, it's only the militant ones like the one above that proselytize.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #53)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:42 AM

55. The trend towards atheism as a faith is growing, as well.

That is usually met with howls as well, but it is happening. There are atheist churches, the IRS recognizes them, and they're "in the mix" with the rest of the congregators.

They've even created sects--regular atheists v. new atheists, for example...this guy has a POV about that:

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/21/reza_aslan_sam_harris_and_new_atheists_arent_new_arent_even_atheists/

One can certainly be both an atheist and an anti-theist. But the point is that the vast majority of atheists – 85 percent according to one poll – are not anti-theists and should not be lumped into the same category as the anti-theist ideologues that inundate the media landscape. (A diverse community being defined by its loudest voices? Imagine that). In fact, let’s stop calling New Atheism, “atheism,” and start calling it what it is: anti-theism.




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Response to MADem (Reply #55)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:51 AM

56. Atheism isn't a faith

You can't call not collecting stamps a hobby and you can't call not believing in god a faith. There's no deity they pray to and no set of belief structures, both of which would be required to be a faith.

That aside, anti-theists bug me. I dislike people trying to convert me to any belief system, I already have one I'm entirely happy with.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #56)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:08 AM

60. That's not really true as a legal matter.

 

A set of things you don't or will not believe in sure sounds pretty religious to me. "Religion" as a legal construct is very, very broad, and atheists and agnostics are protected the same as Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Quakers, Mormons, and everyone else.

Moreover, the legal protections for those who choose not to believe are no different that for religious adherents. The free exercise of religion also guarantees the right not to partake of any religion without government interference or sanction.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #56)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:22 AM

61. So then faiths without supreme beings wouldn't be regarded as faiths, either...?

I think if you have a POV about spiritual issues and gather together in numbers, that's a faith. Atheists BELIEVE, just like Muslims, Jews or Christians believe. The difference is their belief is that there's nothing out there. Some people believe in supreme beings, some people believe in reincarnation, but there's believing going on no matter where a person sits on the spectrum.

And I'm no fan of "converters" either. I think LIVE and LET LIVE is a good way to go through life. I really don't care about a person's faith or lack thereof. I think it's a personal and cultural aspect of an individual. How they apply that belief system in their daily lives can make them either a good or a bad person. If they're out there helping people, good for them. If they're scolding people, then I have no time for them.

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Response to MADem (Reply #61)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:28 PM

88. Only some atheists believe

I used to work for Beliefnet.com and learned there about teh division between "weak" atheism ("I don't believe in god" as opposed to "strong" atheism ("there is no god". The former makes a statement about the self, the latter makes a statement about the universe. Only the latter has a belief.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #88)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:38 PM

93. I dunno....

I think that framing the question in a particular way provides one an excuse to call it something other than a belief. Rather than "I don't believe in god" one can say "I believe there is no god" and then you've got "belief" working, not "absence of belief."

I still think a shared community and gathering in numbers constitutes a faith--I know that doesn't go down well with people who stake their POV on "No believing, damn it" but they're believing something isn't there. They don't KNOW it for a fact, they simply, firmly believe it.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #37)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:25 AM

62. It's rare that someone will try to prove the negative....

 

It's just about knowing the odds...

Can I prove that there isn't a God? Of course not. I could check every nook and cranny of the universe and we could keep missing each other...

However one can make a scientifically sound estimate and based on what we know of the universe, the God question is about on the same level as the leprechaun and werewolf question.... (shamelessly stolen from John Mcarthy)

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Response to Oktober (Reply #62)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:45 AM

80. It's not rare for people to try to prove so-called "negatives".

 

This atheist does it all the time.

Sometimes with success, and sometimes not.

But proving "negatives" can be fun.

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Response to Oktober (Reply #62)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 07:50 PM

87. And yet

Last edited Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:34 PM - Edit history (1)

Those of us who believe feel the presence of our deity when we pray.

Moreover, we do not know either what preceded the Big Bang or where the first lifeform came from. I am of the opinion that it was god who created the singularity that triggered the first Big Bang before leaving the universe to unfold according to teh physical laws he made.

Note that doesn't mean I worship him. I'm a Luciferian.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #37)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 09:44 AM

65. So you pretty much agree with me then

 

Just because you say I'm proselytizing doesn't make it so. Look up the definition of the word. Saying that human beings evolved from a common ancestor is not proselytizing, it's educating. The same goes for every single scientific refutation of every other religious claim. And you agree, so good.

As for the claim that there is no god - First, I never said that, and second, the facts point to an increasingly close to 100% probability that there is, as a matter of fact, no god. We're not talking 60% here, or 70% here, or 90%, or 99%, or 99.99%, more like 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999%. The science is progressing to the point where it's the epitome of ridiculous absurdity to continue to claim your "belief" has any bearing in reality.

Finally, I'd like to you define "god". Since you agree with me that science can disprove pretty much any religious claim, and that it's a method of determining truth over falsehood, and that it's the only rational explanation of any phenomenon, are you to claim that the god you believe in is the deistic god instead of the Abrahamic god? I'm asking if you believe in the one that "started the universe" or "created the laws of physics" but then left things to go on their own without any intervention. Because if that's the case, then you're just as much of an atheist as almost everyone else.

Seriously, if you haven't read it, you should read it: The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins talks about "raising consciousness" early on in the book. One of the things he says is you need to come out of the closet, so to speak. We all agree that the claims of religion are nonsense, yet still cling on to the deistic god, which is pretty much an admission that we're just atheists pretending not to be atheists.

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Response to Niko (Reply #65)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 07:44 PM

86. You are proselytizing

Just because you don't want to admit it doesn't make it less so. And I know exactly what teh word means, I worked for Beliefnet for ten years. I have my own beliefs and your continued proselytizing and pimping of Dawkins is unwelcome.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #86)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 10:03 AM

107. Is it OK for Democrats to "proselytize"?

I.e., speak forcefully about their convictions and try to persuade others to accept their point of view? Isn't that kind of the whole point of the democratic process?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #107)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 10:06 AM

108. And your point is?

Yes, Democrats can and do proselytize. But they do not deny that they're trying to convert others to their own point of view and do not keep pushing the matter when it has been made clear that the other party isn't interested.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #108)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 10:10 AM

109. Republicans have made it quite clear they aren't interested in our point of view.

But Democrats keep pushing it, don't they? Is that a bad thing? Now that Democrats have stated their positions on everything, should we just sit down, shut up, and quit proselytizing?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #109)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 10:18 AM

110. Yes, Republicans have made that clear

Republicans are comfortably settled into their alternate universe and will not be shifted by facts, opinion, reality or an artillery strike. I think Democrats are now simply trying to convince the undecided middle and new voters.

Also, there is a distinct difference between proselytizing politics (which affects how everyone lives through the voting process) and proselytizing religion/atheism (which is, or should be, an intensely personal area that affects no-one else).

Finally, I'm British. Here, religion is an intensely personal matter and pushing one's religious views to others is considered incredibly rude. My grandmother, for example, was devoutly Christian in the very best sense of the word (spent her life caring for disabled and disturbed kids, was pro-gay and pro-choice), drew a great deal of strength and inspiration from her faith but, unless you asked, you could have known her your whole life and not have known her faith.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #110)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 10:27 AM

111. That's a very broad brush.

I think there are many Republicans who are open to our ideas. That's why we keep proselytizing, trying to convince others of our point of view as Democrats. I don't think that's a bad thing.

It is interesting that you note religion *should be* a personal thing - and I bet that up and down this room if that were truly the case, even the horrible nasty atheists that you attack would be willing to keep it to themselves. But you and I both know that religion is anything but personal in this world. Plenty of believers are making others live according to their beliefs. So given that we don't inhabit the ideal world you imagine, is there something then wrong with atheists who speak out against religion and its intrusion into the lives of others?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #111)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:27 PM

131. You do love playing the martyr don't you? nt

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #131)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:33 PM

132. I see no need to make this personal, el_bryanto.

I'm sorry you do.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #132)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:40 PM

138. I'm not making it personal

I just note that many of your posts contain some variation on the phrase "the horrible nasty atheists that you attack."

If you want to defend Niko's laughable argument than, by all means, enjoy yourself.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #138)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:49 PM

141. Actually, yes, you did.

Your post was about me allegedly playing the martyr. It was personal. I don't give a rip about Niko or his argument. Feel free to attack him if you want. I'm trying to find out to what extent atheists are allowed to question religion and religious beliefs. If you want to continue to make comments about me, go right ahead, but I'm going to disregard them. I think you're capable of better behavior than some of the rude theists and religion defenders in here.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #107)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:14 PM

147. Don't take the bait, trotsky. I am not proselytizing

 

pros·e·lyt·ize

verb
To convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.

Attempting to convert someone from one belief or opinion to another is to proselytize. Evolution is not opinion, it is fact. A more than 6000 year old Earth is not opinion, it is fact. The impossibility of a man rising from the dead or being born from a virgin mother is not opinion, it is fact.

This is a common obfuscation tactic that theocrats employ, this idea that atheists still have "faith" or "beliefs" and are no different than the fundamentalists. We have scientific fact on our side, they have nothing but conjecture.

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Response to Niko (Reply #147)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:19 PM

148. Well there is one linking belief

Fundamentalists believe that the world would be better if everybody shared their opinion on religion.

You also believe that the world would be better if everybody shared your opinion on religion.

Personally I prefer live and let live, but one has to accept that different people have different beliefs - your opinion, for example, that religions should be prosecuted for fraud . . . hey wait a moment - isn't that an opinion? Or is it a scientific fact that religions should be prosecuted for fraud?

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #148)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:29 PM

150. They're committing fraud

 

While my opinion that they ought to be prosecuted for it may be an opinion, the fact that they're committing it still stands.

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Response to Niko (Reply #150)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:36 PM

151. Nods - so if someone says to you "I think Moby is the best electronica act of the 1990s"

they are committing fraud? I mean we both know it was really the Chemical Brothers, right? And what if you went out and purchased one of Mobys mildly disappointing albums - you're out money on an inferior product.

Bryant

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Response to Niko (Reply #65)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:39 PM

137. You give normal atheists with a shred of humanity a bad name.

 

/ignore you. [n/t]

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #18)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:18 PM

127. It's all about salvation, Prophet.

They must save people from the false beliefs and show them the one true way.

It's a crusade and ground soldiers like this person are going to save the world!

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Response to Niko (Reply #15)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:05 AM

59. Yes yes... We've all read it...

 

However there is no need to be a tool about it.

Others will do what they please and so shall we and the atheistic portion of society continues to grow.

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Response to Niko (Reply #15)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:56 AM

81. +1

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Response to Niko (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:05 AM

20. Well, you are certainly free to advocate changing the First Amendment

 

and every state constitutional analog, if you believe the free exercise of religion is detrimental to the populace.

Good luck with that. I think the politicians will get on that right after they repeal the Second Amendment.

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Response to branford (Reply #20)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:38 AM

29. Does the First Amendment cover outright fraud?

 

Look, people are free to believe what they want, say what they want, etc. What's sickening, though, is how this gets extended to outright lying to make a profit. Now, the exercise of religion in general IS in fact detrimental, as it encourages ignorance and leads to all the bullshit that has to be dealt with in America these days, but that's a whole other discussion, I guess.

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Response to Niko (Reply #29)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:50 AM

32. Faith is not legally fraud.

 

You can believe anything you wish and freely proselytize if you so choose.

Both criminal and civil fraud require a number of very specific elements to prove, and religion and churches as commonly understood would never be guilty or liable. That is why so many kooky and destructive cults exist and are able to legally recruit. It's all part of basic First Amendment jurisprudence just as with freedom of speech. In order to ensure adequate protection for the right, sometimes it's necessary to tolerate the unsavory.

As to whether religion is detrimental, I disagree. In any event, the debate is purely academic as far as the Constitution is concerned.

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Response to branford (Reply #32)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:55 AM

35. And I'm saying it should be

 

You just gave some great examples regarding the cults. And you ironically negate your own argument when in one breath you say the cults are destructive, but in the next breath say religion is NOT detrimental.

What do you think religions are? They're cults.

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Response to Niko (Reply #35)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:08 AM

38. First, I never said all religions are always positive.

 

However, like speech, you sometimes have to tolerate the truly offensive in order to adequately ensure the right is truly protected.

Nevertheless, the same First Amendment that permits you speak freely and criticize religion and its adherents, also protects the free exercise of such religion and beliefs with VERY few limitations.

As I indicated earlier, if you wish to negate the right to the free exercise of religion, one of the foundations of our culture that is overwhelmingly supported by the American populace of all political persuasions, you are free to do so. You have a long and difficult road ahead.

I expect any movement wishing to alter the First Amendment to be small, sad, and about as popular as Ebola to most Americans. However, thanks again to the Constitution, you are free to lobby your fellow citizens without government interference.

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Response to Niko (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:42 AM

74. So you basically don't believe in the bill of rights or religious freedom?

 

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #74)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:37 PM

82. It's FRAUD

 

Everybody has the right to believe whatever they want. When people make money by selling lies, though, that's called FRAUD.

It's accepted that deceiving people for the purpose of bilking them is immoral and illegal and that anyone who does such a thing ought to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and at a bare minimum have the property returned to their rightful owners, unless you attach the word "religion" to it.

Bernie Madoff goes to prison. He sold people on fake investments. The Church of Scientology and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints gets tax breaks.

Explain that one, if you will.

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Response to Niko (Reply #82)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:43 PM

83. So to be clear do you think churches should have the right to exist?

 

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Response to Niko (Reply #9)


Response to Niko (Reply #9)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:17 PM

126. Yeah!! Let's outlaw churches, that's the ticket.

And let's arrest every religious leader in the country for fraud!

That would require the repeal of the religious sections of the 1st amendment, but who needs that pesky separation clause.

Y'know, I think you are really onto something.

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Response to Niko (Reply #9)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:23 PM

130. Welcome to DU. Hey I paid $6.99 for an album on I-Tunes yesterday -

I can't see that product - - should I be able to sue I-Tunes?

Also I pay dues for my stamp collecting club - there's no product involved at all - should I sue them too?

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #130)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:26 PM

149. Did you get what you paid for?

 

Did you get a music album, or did you just get the lyrics? Does your stamp collecting club actually collect stamps, or do they just sit in front of a TV and watch the game and drink beer? You know you're being obtuse, so let's not pretend now.

When a guy stands up in front of a pulpit and makes claims that are demonstrably false, and you give him money for it, sorry, you're a victim of fraud. He can't heal you by praying for you any more than you can heal yourself by praying for it. He's telling you things that are untrue and even though you believe him, that doesn't make them any less untrue. They're lying to you and they're making money off of it.

And that's wrong, period. I don't live in an illusion. I know it's damn near impossible to convince people who have been indoctrinated since they were children that they've been suckered for their whole lives, but damn if I'm going to sit here and claim that the things that these people are doing are just or moral. Quite the opposite.

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Response to Niko (Reply #149)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:37 PM

152. I do get what I want out of my faith - a closer connection to God.

So I am not being defrauded, right?

Bryant

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Response to Niko (Reply #9)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:34 PM

134. What would you replace them with?

How would you enforce this? Put believers in jail? In prison for repeat offences? Govermental fines? "Illegal"-- seriously? I'm not even a believer and that statement is just scary.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #134)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:46 PM

140. I think we would need a new federal agency,

 

maybe the Department of Religious Persecution. DRP agents could even wear special jackboots to help enforce their authority.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:54 PM

13. A church, as a congregation that truly does God's work, should not be taxed.

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Response to flvegan (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:03 AM

19. Define "doing God's work"

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #19)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:07 AM

22. I've been repeatedly told on television that God = America.

 

Doesn't everyone know that.

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Response to branford (Reply #22)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:13 AM

25. That's Republianity for you

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #19)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:13 AM

24. Acting selflessly.

Do I need to explain further?

Good question, though.

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Response to flvegan (Reply #24)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:14 AM

26. Only if you feel the need to

I get what you mean but if you'd like to play to the gallery, that's fine.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #26)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:33 AM

28. I don't feel that I need to.

I left it to the gallery to decide if it was needed.

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Response to flvegan (Reply #24)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:18 AM

27. I think everyone knew what you meant, i.e., engaging in true and selfless charity.

 

Nevertheless, it would likely be too difficult define, and in the attempt to change the law, to the extent even constitutional, end-up badly hurting numerous groups supporting good causes, both liberal and conservative.

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Response to flvegan (Reply #24)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:36 PM

136. The god of the Bible is a selfish, psychotic dickhead, though.

 

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #136)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:43 PM

139. I'm a believing Jew, but George Carlin's bit about a mean but loving God was fantastic.

 

[link:|

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Response to branford (Reply #139)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:55 PM

142. God (pun intended) I miss George Carlin.

 

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #136)

Wed Nov 26, 2014, 07:14 AM

158. No arguement there

I'm a Luciferian Satanist. It's a tenet of my faith that god is a vicious prick. That's why we worship the first being with the courage to stand against him.

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Response to flvegan (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:29 AM

63. Ask him to send down a list and I'll see if I agree....

 

Until that point...

Otherwise, the current interpretations range across a spectrum of global conflict eating crackers made out of the Lord.

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Response to flvegan (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:53 PM

97. Ahhhh, there is no God. Nt

 

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:45 AM

31. Tased? Hell yeah!

 

And you can tax 'em too if you want.

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Response to Droning Predator (Reply #31)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:50 AM

33. Gave me a heart attack there

I thought I'd made a typo for a second.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:01 AM

36. If they would keep their preaching in the pulpit and quit telling people how to vote,

which is supposed to be illegal, I would say no, but as it stands now, too many are doing just that.

Plus, I live in the Bible Belt. I'd love to see these assholes taxed because they already control local government and break laws left and right, and never get charged with any crimes. "Get right with God" was the official government answer to me having trouble with people harassing me left and right when I came out. They said this even AFTER they knew I was raped for it. This was supposedly "THE gay counselor for the county" according to her. That's what local government is like when it is a theocracy. There ain't a damn thing I can do about it either. All of the people I would have had to ask to investigate preaching in place of mental health (government funded official county mental health) are in on it too. Hell, I even had professors in college here wanting to hypnotize me and "straighten me out" in 2006, no less. It is that bad here.

I want them taxed AND thrown out of government, especially local government where I live. Let them "atone" for their law breaking and cushy control they have had for so many years where I live. Show them what taxation without representation feels like. Take away their hate crime protections too, here where I live. If they don't think I should have any protection, take their protections, aka "special rights" away too, the fucking assholes.

I'm sick and tired of the theocracy where I live. Anything that will at least put some kind of inconvenience in there for them, I'm all for it. If I could limit it to my county and get away with it, I would wonder if anyone could let me borrow some lions too while I am at it. No mercy. I was never given mercy. I don't have it to give in return for the torture I have endured here.

Outside of my own county, I would say if they are caught involved in politics, like telling people how to vote, colluding to control local laws, and infiltrating local government to keep tight control over small counties, tax them and take away their hate crimes protections too.

Otherwise, just tax them so they won't have so much power.

I'm fed up with the theocracy where I live.

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Response to Jamastiene (Reply #36)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:09 AM

39. I'm sorry you experienced that

I hope you've now had some proper counseling regarding the assault on your person and if you feel the need to talk to someone, feel free to mail me (and I promise, I'm not interested in trying to convert you).

I confess that I'd completely forgotten about the hate crime exemption. I agree that should be withdrawn. If you can't preach your message without hate speech, you have the wrong message.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #39)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:35 AM

45. The First Amendment clearly would prohibit a crime of hate speech.

 

Hate speech laws in the USA are really nothing more than sentence enhancements after conviction of an underlying crime such as assault or murder, and even then these laws sometimes have constitutional problems.

In America, well over a century of jurisprudence indicates that you absolutely cannot criminalize speech simply because it is offensive or hateful, or may engender such feelings in others, no matter how vile or disgusting. It is totally unlike European law, and the reason why ideas like banning Holocaust denial are non-starters here.

At most, if a preacher advocated the immediate harm to an individual, regardless of the reason, and it would be reasonable to assume that such harm would occur, it might be incitement to riot. However, that is a difficult crime to prove and simple "hate speech," no matter how vile, without much, much more, would meet the elements of the offense.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:24 AM

41. There's a church where I live...

Where they bought an abandoned Boeing facility for $25 million and was putting another $20 million in tenant improvements. I'm thinking why does this church have $50 million and why are they not taxed on it?

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Response to Initech (Reply #41)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:26 AM

42. What were they going to do with it?

I'm thinking, if they were going to turn it into, say, a homeless shelter, that would be fine.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #42)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:32 AM

43. No they were turning it into a new facility for their church.

They were in no way, shape, or form using this money to feed and clothe the homeless.

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Response to Initech (Reply #43)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:33 AM

44. Then tax them, I agree

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #44)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:37 AM

46. Why?

 

Because their house of worship is too big or extravagant?

Churches, big and small, rich and poor, have the exact same constitutional protections.

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Response to branford (Reply #46)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:12 AM

49. I know that

Changing those protections is what this thread is about. And yes, I agree that such a change is unlikely to ever happen (or, at least, not within our lifetimes) but it's a fun little football to kick around.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #49)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:01 AM

58. Why should a big church be treated differently than one that is small.

 

If the government shouldn't favor any religion, the size, wealth or doctrine of a church shouldn't matter with respect to government policy or protection, and unless there is a radical change in the First Amendment, of course it never will.

I understand the underlying discussion about taxing nonprofits overall, and realize the issue tends to morph into taxing religious institutions both because they are a bulwark of conservative influence and resources and religion is often a sensitive topic on the left, but treating some churches differently than others is really a whole different matter, and more than a little nit frightening. It's exactly what the First Amendment was meant to prohibit, and the freedom of religion that the first colonists came here enjoy.



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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:05 AM

47. Yes. They are profit making businesses.

 

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #47)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:11 AM

48. Some are, sure

Others are not, expending everything on charitable works.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #48)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:35 AM

54. As are other businesses and corporations.

 

If they charities they expend on legit, i.e. not other churches, those expenditures should be tax-deductible at the same rate as others.

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #47)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:20 AM

50. Absolutely.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:23 AM

51. Yes but exempt their charitable outreach activities so long as they are offered to ALL

regardless of faith affiliation or lack thereof.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:57 AM

57. They need to be treated as any other non-profit. Nothing else is constitutional.

http://law.justia.com/constitution/us/amendment-01/05-tax-exemptions-of-religious-property.html

Then, in 1970, a nearly unanimous Court sustained a state exemption from real or personal property taxation of “property used exclusively for religious, educational or charitable purposes” owned by a corporation or association which was conducted exclusively for one or more of these purposes and did not operate for profit.179 The first prong of a two-prong argument saw the Court adopting Justice Brennan’s rationale. Using the secular purpose and effect test, Chief Justice Burger noted that the purpose of the exemption was not to single out churches for special favor; instead, the exemption applied to a broad category of associations having many common features and all dedicated to social betterment. Thus, churches as well as museums, hospitals, libraries, charitable organizations, professional associations, and the like, all non-profit, and all having a beneficial and stabilizing influence in community life, were to be encouraged by being treated specially in the tax laws. The primary effect of the exemptions was not to aid religion; the primary effect was secular and any assistance to religion was merely incidental.

SNIP

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:40 AM

64. They should be treated like other non-profits.

No difference.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 09:46 AM

66. Does this include other houses of worship?

 

My answer is no in general but there is room for reform.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #66)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:08 PM

144. Yes, I was using "church" in the general sense n/t

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 09:47 AM

67. Yes (nt)

 

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:15 AM

69. If you tax churches and other houses of worship then you open up the possibility they can

 

endorse candidates.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #69)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:18 AM

70. They already are with a nudge, wink and outright proclamations in some cases.

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Response to Lars39 (Reply #70)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:22 AM

71. True but if they do it from the pulpit it might have more force.

 

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #71)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:32 AM

72. And I have no doubt at all that is already happening.

Some of the mega church preachers are doing so with video running and challenging IRS to do something about it. If this is happening in mega churches it's happening in others.

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Response to Lars39 (Reply #72)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:37 AM

73. Yes but there should be consequences to them for breaking the law.

 

If you remove the excemptions then churches might shed their 501 status and just do it more openly.

Also this will hurt struggling churches.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:49 AM

76. Yes.

If all churches of any sort whatsoever were compelled to minister privately, not publicly, and limit their "ministry" to spiritual matters, I'd say no...but until every last vestige of political action and messaging is removed from every last "church," then YES.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:02 AM

78. I was thinking of exempting charitable activities

 

but fear they would consider everything they do "charitable" so I'm not sure how to work around that.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:36 AM

79. I think religious organizations should be taxed if they publicly state political opinions, ---

also, profit from their money making properties, such as hotels, resorts, real estate not used for religious instruction or activity, hospitals, shopping centers.... should be taxed at all levels anyway.

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Response to northoftheborder (Reply #79)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:47 PM

84. Churches are already taxed for "non-church" activities.

 

A fact which apparently few people realize.

Moreover, if the standard was "political opinions," rather than campaigning, the resultant mess would huge. The government would be (unconstitutionally) forced to decided what religious opinions are impermissible religious opinions. More importantly, every liberal organization who stated political opinions would also have to be taxed. Say goodbye to Planned Parenthood, environmental groups, etc.

Under the First Amendment, there is virtually no way to single out religious organizations and treat them differently than similarly situated secular organization. In fact, the First Amendment provides unique and greater protection to religious belief and expression.

As a general rule, if you want churches taxed, you need to accept the reality that virtually all secular and liberal charitable and related organizations will also be taxed.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:54 PM

85. Of course they should

They should have plenty of deductions available to them if they are truly charitable, but they should pay their fair share, especially when it comes to property taxes.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:31 PM

89. Why should they be taxed?

A church or other religious entity is just a group of people who pool their resources together to support their building, pastor, and other activities. Should all such organizations pay taxes? Religious or otherwise?

What profits are they making? Should other non-profits pay taxes, as well?

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Response to TexasMommaWithAHat (Reply #89)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:38 PM

92. Well,

Some churches collect monies to repair teh church roof or to buy blankets for the homeless. They're not making a profit. However, some other churches (such as Pat Robertson's) expend their money on ensuring their pastor lives in luxury.

My personal view is that churches that make a profit should be taxed on that profit but that their charitable acts should be exempt.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #92)

Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:49 PM

96. Their pastor pays taxes on his salary

My personal opinion, is that people who support such pastors in luxury are nuts.

Most churches, rich or poor, do not make a profit. Members contribute to the degree that they can support and maintain the buildings, staff, etc., that they want and can afford.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:13 AM

98. Nice Avatar!



I don't really give a crud about churches and don't utilize them, so I'm an abstain on the vote.

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Response to ScreamingMeemie (Reply #98)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:23 AM

99. Thanks dude!

I got it from a Sinfest comic years ago and have used it on pretty much everything since.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 02:43 AM

100. Yes

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:16 AM

101. I think the tax structure should encourage good works.

If your church does not use a minimum% of tithes ( at least 20%) to help the poor,sick,elderly or homeless than you are just a conservative social club and should be taxed.

Conservatives often say government shouldn't help people it should be the churches, but every church I have looked at in the area does very little to feed,cloth and help others, just mega churches continuing to build extravagant buildings with wealthy pastors ( one has a Dodge Viper), how anyone can call that what Jesus commanded is beyond me.

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Response to Notafraidtoo (Reply #101)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 08:22 AM

103. It's a bit different here (UK)

We don't have mega-churches in the way you do and the only time I can recall our local church taking up collections were a collection of tinned goods for the local food bank and a blanket collection for the homeless.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 07:16 AM

102. This would help me break tithing to our church.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 08:33 AM

104. Yes, as regular income

 

With credits for specific charitable activities--not to include proselytizing in any form.

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Response to demwing (Reply #104)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 09:48 AM

105. "regular income"?

Maybe I'm being dense here but what else would it be counted as?

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 10:32 AM

112. The black church a few blocks away from me

Hired 15 giant busses to send church-goers to the polls and vote here in Georgia. I didn't witness them in action, but I saw them before they left, and someone told me they were packed full when they left.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 10:50 AM

113. Yes

And the third choice isn't needed. Like any other organization, the actual monies donated to charity would already be non-taxed and under IRS law a facility existing for the sole purpose of performing chartiable activities (soup kitchen, homeless shelter, et al) would already be granted tax-free status.

So, the parts that are charitible would still be non-taxed without any further changes to the code. Just that all the property (churches, land, schools, land, cemetaries, land, and the land the for-profit hospitals stand on) would not be tax exempt.

And they shouldn't be.

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Response to ProfessorGAC (Reply #113)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:14 PM

114. I'm British

so I didn't/don't know all about the American tax technicalities which is why I included the third option.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #114)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:25 PM

116. Was Not A Criticism Proph!

Just my reason for just picking Yes. Wasn't intended as a critique of your post.
GAC

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Response to ProfessorGAC (Reply #116)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:40 PM

118. Sorry, my misunderstanding

I've been getting picked on by a couple of militant atheists all day so I was being overly defensive. Apologies.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Reply #118)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:54 PM

121. No Apology Needed

Making sure we're on the same page.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:18 PM

115. I am with Frank Zappa

 

"TAX the CHURCHES. TAX the businesses OWNED by the CHURCHES."

Though I would calmly listen to an argument regarding some breaks for truly charitable activities like food pantries, shelters, etc.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #115)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:34 PM

117. Don't know any Frank Zappa

My personal position is that any particular church should be obliged to keep two sets of books (kind of, that metaphor doesn't really work but I can't come up with a better one). There is X amount of money going in.

From that, one side would be the business a church does as a church; missionaries, publicity, congregational business, etc and that would be taxed at whatever rate we agree on.

The other side would be genuinely charitable activities like soup kitchens, homeless shelters/blankets/clothing, food banks and so on and that side would be tax free but is not allowed to proselytize beyond leaving "this meal provided by church X" leaflets around (I really hate the trick of forcing hungry people to listen to a sermon before they're allowed to eat). That side is also not allowed to discriminate with who it employs (although most churches here (UK) will take you if you can handle a ladle).

I'm unsure which side "souls to the polls" would fit in. On the one hand, you could argue that those bussed by a church are likely to vote a certain way, making it a church expense. On the other hand, increasing voter turnout is always a civic good so it could be argued as charitable.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:42 PM

119. Yes. If one is operating properly, it will pay no taxes anyway.

I've never entirely understood the argument AGAINST taxing them. The tax code already allows businesses to deduct their operating expenses, and a church that is operating honestly should be able to deduct virtually all of its income under those guidelines. Electrical bills? Deductible. Employee wages? Deductible. Rent? Deductible. Even running shelters and soup kitchens should be deductible, if people are donating money to keep those in operation (the soup kitchen becomes an expense required to maintain the income).

In theory, people donate to their churches in order to support its operations and keep it open. Any money they spend toward those goals should be deductible, meaning the church will pay no taxes on them anyway. They will only pay taxes on profit left over at the end of the year.

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Response to Xithras (Reply #119)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:45 PM

120. The argument, as I understand it...

...is that churches/religion is an objective societal good and therefore, should be encouraged.

No, I don't buy it but that's how I understand the argument.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:11 PM

122. The lack of understanding on this subject and the emotionally based responses are embarrassing.

For all of you that consider yourselves people of reason who base your rational decisions on evidence and data, you really need a civics lesson on this.

Churches are 501 (3) c organizations. This is the same category used for all non-profit organizations, be they religious or not. That would include some of our most favorite ones.

With only a few exceptions, churches abide by the exact same rules as other non-profits.

The exceptions have to do with a parsonage exception, for which I think there is a good case for eliminating, and some annual paperwork requirements, which I also think should be eliminated.

Otherwise, they are identical.

To exclude churches from this category and allow it for non-religious organizations would be a 1st amendment violation. Those that want to eliminate the tax status run the risk of dismantling the religious clause completely, including the separation part.

In addition, until secular and governmental agencies step up to the plate, proposing that churches have a disincentive for providing charitable works will only hurt the neediest and most marginalized among us.

Now, there are clearly some churches that are grossly violating the rules concerning non-profits. They are the exceptions, as most churches get by on a shoestring, but they are glaring and extremely offensive.

The IRS needs to step up to the plate and challenge their status. It is their negligence that is a huge part of the problem.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:19 PM

128. yes. too many churches are little more than tax-exempt republicans headquarters...

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:21 PM

129. If churches are truly non profit I would say no

Last edited Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:57 PM - Edit history (2)

They should not be taxed. They should be treated like any non profit. Salaries to the church's leaders and employees should be taxed as are other organizations.

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Response to upaloopa (Reply #129)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:34 PM

133. Priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, and all other types of religious leaders, officials and employees

 

pay income taxes just like everyone else. If they are paid high salaries, they pay more in income taxes. They are additionally entitled to take the same charitable and related deduction as everybody else.

All nonprofits are also generally permitted to hold and espouse political positions. They are not permitted to campaign (i.e., endorse and support individual candidates) and maintain their tax exemption.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:35 PM

135. Of course. (n/t)

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:11 PM

145. Yes and start with the Mormon church.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:58 PM

153. Yes, but there are churches that are hurting right now.

Tax the mega-churches that rake in millions. Exempt the smaller churches as long as they re-affirm they will stay out of politics.

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Response to louis-t (Reply #153)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 08:27 PM

155. The government should treat certain churches differently than others, including tax preferences?

 

Would you care to explain how that could be accomplished without blatantly running afoul of the First Amendment?

I guess you could possibly institute a progressive tax on ALL nonprofits, and really sock it to the big ones. I'm sure Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, WWF and many other very liberal and important groups will be thrilled by your proposal.

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Response to branford (Reply #155)

Tue Nov 25, 2014, 06:57 PM

156. That's what I'm saying. Progressive tax, but why does it have to be all non-profits?

Tell me why you consider Joel Osteen living in luxury to be non-profit? Are churches really lumped in with all non-profits? And what does 1st Amendment have to do with it? Churches are given a free ride under the condition that they do not preach politics. Most churches abide by this, but a growing number do not. Planned Parenthood does not have that restriction, or maybe it does, but I don't see them asking people to "pray for the death of the president" like some of these whack job preachers, or telling people who to vote for.

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Response to louis-t (Reply #156)

Tue Nov 25, 2014, 09:23 PM

157. Churches are tax-exempt under the same tax code provisions as other nonprofits and charities,

 

usually as 401(c)(3) corporations. Churches do not really receive special or unique tax protections unavailable to other groups. As with any other relevant organizations, if they comply with the regulations, they receive preferential tax status.

Additionally note that these organizations are actually permitted to engage in political activities, they are only forbidden from campaigning (i.e., endorsing, donating money, and assisting individual candidates under specific circumstances). The same tax code treatment that permits Planned Parenthood to be tax-exempt while advocating protections for abortion rights also protects a church's rights to oppose abortion while receiving identical tax treatment, so long as other campaign restrictions are maintained (although both notable liberal and conservative groups break the rules on occasion with limited threat of enforcement - see my mutually assured destruction posts earlier in the thread).

The First Amendment and other constitutional provisions clearly and unequivocally prohibit the government from treating religious groups any differently from secular groups. Accordingly, the government definitely could not institute a progressive tax only on religious groups, but certainly may provide one for all covered nonprofits.

The Joel Osteen example is not particularly persuasive or informative. The government is not permitted to judge churches or treat one differently from another under the First Amendment. If Mr. Osteen's church is large and well-funded, and wishes to provide him with a generous salary and other amenities, that simply is not any of the government's business. Mr. Osteen, however, still must pay personal income and related taxes just like you or I. This same rules are what permits many liberal groups to similarly provide very generous compensation packages to their executives. I assure you that the presidents of PP, the United Way or Greenpeace are not living in anything remotely close to poverty.




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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 08:20 PM

154. Tax churches in the same way we tax people......or should tax people.

Progressive tax, deductions for charity. That might mean that more churches do more charitable work.

Tax corporations and the very rich, too.

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Response to Prophet 451 (Original post)

Wed Nov 26, 2014, 09:16 PM

159. No. n/t

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