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Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
Sat Nov 22, 2014, 10:51 PM Nov 2014

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?


88 votes, 1 pass | Time left: Unlimited
Yes
60 (68%)
No
14 (16%)
Yes, but exempt their charitable actions (i.e. soup kitchens)
13 (15%)
I like clicking things
1 (1%)
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Should Churches Be Taxed? (Original Post) Prophet 451 Nov 2014 OP
Hell, yes! QuebecYank Nov 2014 #1
Does that call for them ALL to be taxed though? Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #2
Churches can play politics. Just can't endorse or oppose individual candidates. joeglow3 Nov 2014 #16
Tax 'Em All!!! QuebecYank Nov 2014 #30
Rather a broad bursh, I think Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #40
Wait Munificence Nov 2014 #77
Keep the government out of churches and synogogues Emelina Nov 2014 #75
I think a lot depends on the church and what percentage of its holdings go to charity Wella Nov 2014 #3
What would you consider an acceptable percentage? Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #4
Not totally sure. I'd have to have more info on general operating expenses Wella Nov 2014 #5
That's fair enough Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #6
I saw that, but it leaves out education Wella Nov 2014 #8
I can't get Biblical about it Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #12
Fair enough. Wella Nov 2014 #14
Anyone paid a salary is taxed already TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #90
Tithes generally Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #94
I meant from a "moral" perspective TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #95
Option three is not a good option, because that is the status quo. cbayer Nov 2014 #124
Being British, I didn't know how US tax law works. Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #143
See #122 for an overview. cbayer Nov 2014 #146
Well, that's good because that is what happens currently. cbayer Nov 2014 #123
Churches are usually tax exempt because they are non-profit. branford Nov 2014 #7
I was under the impression that was already the law Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #10
The area of law is a little wobbly, and not my personal area of expertise. branford Nov 2014 #17
Sure but... Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #21
As I said, mutually assured destruction. branford Nov 2014 #23
Non-profit does not mean tax exempt Major Nikon Nov 2014 #68
+1 TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #91
This is the right answer. I'm glad you get it. cbayer Nov 2014 #125
Churches shouldn't even be legal Niko Nov 2014 #9
And that's just extremist nonsense n/t Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #11
Want to know what's extremist? Niko Nov 2014 #15
Yes, yes, you've fulfilled your proselytizing quota Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #18
Atheists can't proselytize Niko Nov 2014 #34
Bullshit Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #37
I agree with you. I went and googled and I was shocked at the number of articles MADem Nov 2014 #52
It's actually not all that common Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #53
The trend towards atheism as a faith is growing, as well. MADem Nov 2014 #55
Atheism isn't a faith Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #56
That's not really true as a legal matter. branford Nov 2014 #60
So then faiths without supreme beings wouldn't be regarded as faiths, either...? MADem Nov 2014 #61
Only some atheists believe Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #88
I dunno.... MADem Nov 2014 #93
It's rare that someone will try to prove the negative.... Oktober Nov 2014 #62
It's not rare for people to try to prove so-called "negatives". stone space Nov 2014 #80
And yet Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #87
So you pretty much agree with me then Niko Nov 2014 #65
You are proselytizing Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #86
Is it OK for Democrats to "proselytize"? trotsky Nov 2014 #107
And your point is? Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #108
Republicans have made it quite clear they aren't interested in our point of view. trotsky Nov 2014 #109
Yes, Republicans have made that clear Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #110
That's a very broad brush. trotsky Nov 2014 #111
You do love playing the martyr don't you? nt el_bryanto Nov 2014 #131
I see no need to make this personal, el_bryanto. trotsky Nov 2014 #132
I'm not making it personal el_bryanto Nov 2014 #138
Actually, yes, you did. trotsky Nov 2014 #141
Don't take the bait, trotsky. I am not proselytizing Niko Nov 2014 #147
Well there is one linking belief el_bryanto Nov 2014 #148
They're committing fraud Niko Nov 2014 #150
Nods - so if someone says to you "I think Moby is the best electronica act of the 1990s" el_bryanto Nov 2014 #151
You give normal atheists with a shred of humanity a bad name. Maedhros Nov 2014 #137
It's all about salvation, Prophet. cbayer Nov 2014 #127
Yes yes... We've all read it... Oktober Nov 2014 #59
+1 sarcasmo Nov 2014 #81
Well, you are certainly free to advocate changing the First Amendment branford Nov 2014 #20
Does the First Amendment cover outright fraud? Niko Nov 2014 #29
Faith is not legally fraud. branford Nov 2014 #32
And I'm saying it should be Niko Nov 2014 #35
First, I never said all religions are always positive. branford Nov 2014 #38
So you basically don't believe in the bill of rights or religious freedom? hrmjustin Nov 2014 #74
It's FRAUD Niko Nov 2014 #82
So to be clear do you think churches should have the right to exist? hrmjustin Nov 2014 #83
Post removed Post removed Nov 2014 #106
Yeah!! Let's outlaw churches, that's the ticket. cbayer Nov 2014 #126
Welcome to DU. Hey I paid $6.99 for an album on I-Tunes yesterday - el_bryanto Nov 2014 #130
Did you get what you paid for? Niko Nov 2014 #149
I do get what I want out of my faith - a closer connection to God. el_bryanto Nov 2014 #152
What would you replace them with? ismnotwasm Nov 2014 #134
I think we would need a new federal agency, branford Nov 2014 #140
A church, as a congregation that truly does God's work, should not be taxed. flvegan Nov 2014 #13
Define "doing God's work" Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #19
I've been repeatedly told on television that God = America. branford Nov 2014 #22
That's Republianity for you Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #25
Acting selflessly. flvegan Nov 2014 #24
Only if you feel the need to Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #26
I don't feel that I need to. flvegan Nov 2014 #28
I think everyone knew what you meant, i.e., engaging in true and selfless charity. branford Nov 2014 #27
The god of the Bible is a selfish, psychotic dickhead, though. Arugula Latte Nov 2014 #136
I'm a believing Jew, but George Carlin's bit about a mean but loving God was fantastic. branford Nov 2014 #139
God (pun intended) I miss George Carlin. Arugula Latte Nov 2014 #142
No arguement there Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #158
Ask him to send down a list and I'll see if I agree.... Oktober Nov 2014 #63
Ahhhh, there is no God. Nt Logical Nov 2014 #97
Tased? Hell yeah! Droning Predator Nov 2014 #31
Gave me a heart attack there Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #33
If they would keep their preaching in the pulpit and quit telling people how to vote, Jamastiene Nov 2014 #36
I'm sorry you experienced that Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #39
The First Amendment clearly would prohibit a crime of hate speech. branford Nov 2014 #45
There's a church where I live... Initech Nov 2014 #41
What were they going to do with it? Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #42
No they were turning it into a new facility for their church. Initech Nov 2014 #43
Then tax them, I agree Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #44
Why? branford Nov 2014 #46
I know that Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #49
Why should a big church be treated differently than one that is small. branford Nov 2014 #58
Yes. They are profit making businesses. Tierra_y_Libertad Nov 2014 #47
Some are, sure Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #48
As are other businesses and corporations. Tierra_y_Libertad Nov 2014 #54
Absolutely. BeanMusical Nov 2014 #50
Yes but exempt their charitable outreach activities so long as they are offered to ALL MADem Nov 2014 #51
They need to be treated as any other non-profit. Nothing else is constitutional. pnwmom Nov 2014 #57
They should be treated like other non-profits. NancyDL Nov 2014 #64
Does this include other houses of worship? hrmjustin Nov 2014 #66
Yes, I was using "church" in the general sense n/t Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #144
Yes (nt) bigwillq Nov 2014 #67
If you tax churches and other houses of worship then you open up the possibility they can hrmjustin Nov 2014 #69
They already are with a nudge, wink and outright proclamations in some cases. Lars39 Nov 2014 #70
True but if they do it from the pulpit it might have more force. hrmjustin Nov 2014 #71
And I have no doubt at all that is already happening. Lars39 Nov 2014 #72
Yes but there should be consequences to them for breaking the law. hrmjustin Nov 2014 #73
Yes. LWolf Nov 2014 #76
I was thinking of exempting charitable activities truebluegreen Nov 2014 #78
I think religious organizations should be taxed if they publicly state political opinions, --- northoftheborder Nov 2014 #79
Churches are already taxed for "non-church" activities. branford Nov 2014 #84
Of course they should SoCalDem Nov 2014 #85
Why should they be taxed? TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #89
Well, Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #92
Their pastor pays taxes on his salary TexasMommaWithAHat Nov 2014 #96
Nice Avatar! ScreamingMeemie Nov 2014 #98
Thanks dude! Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #99
Yes davidpdx Nov 2014 #100
I think the tax structure should encourage good works. Notafraidtoo Nov 2014 #101
It's a bit different here (UK) Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #103
This would help me break tithing to our church. ileus Nov 2014 #102
Yes, as regular income demwing Nov 2014 #104
"regular income"? Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #105
The black church a few blocks away from me Calista241 Nov 2014 #112
Yes ProfessorGAC Nov 2014 #113
I'm British Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #114
Was Not A Criticism Proph! ProfessorGAC Nov 2014 #116
Sorry, my misunderstanding Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #118
No Apology Needed ProfessorGAC Nov 2014 #121
I am with Frank Zappa hifiguy Nov 2014 #115
Don't know any Frank Zappa Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #117
Yes. If one is operating properly, it will pay no taxes anyway. Xithras Nov 2014 #119
The argument, as I understand it... Prophet 451 Nov 2014 #120
The lack of understanding on this subject and the emotionally based responses are embarrassing. cbayer Nov 2014 #122
yes. too many churches are little more than tax-exempt republicans headquarters... spanone Nov 2014 #128
If churches are truly non profit I would say no upaloopa Nov 2014 #129
Priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, and all other types of religious leaders, officials and employees branford Nov 2014 #133
Of course. (n/t) Iggo Nov 2014 #135
Yes and start with the Mormon church. savalez Nov 2014 #145
Yes, but there are churches that are hurting right now. louis-t Nov 2014 #153
The government should treat certain churches differently than others, including tax preferences? branford Nov 2014 #155
That's what I'm saying. Progressive tax, but why does it have to be all non-profits? louis-t Nov 2014 #156
Churches are tax-exempt under the same tax code provisions as other nonprofits and charities, branford Nov 2014 #157
Tax churches in the same way we tax people......or should tax people. PDJane Nov 2014 #154
No. n/t SylviaD Nov 2014 #159

QuebecYank

(147 posts)
1. Hell, yes!
Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:27 PM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
2. Does that call for them ALL to be taxed though?
Sat Nov 22, 2014, 11:47 PM
Nov 2014

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.

QuebecYank

(147 posts)
30. Tax 'Em All!!!
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:38 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
40. Rather a broad bursh, I think
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:13 AM
Nov 2014

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).

Emelina

(188 posts)
75. Keep the government out of churches and synogogues
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:47 AM
Nov 2014

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

 

Wella

(1,827 posts)
3. I think a lot depends on the church and what percentage of its holdings go to charity
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:27 AM
Nov 2014

and to education.

 

Wella

(1,827 posts)
5. Not totally sure. I'd have to have more info on general operating expenses
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:36 AM
Nov 2014

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

 

Wella

(1,827 posts)
8. I saw that, but it leaves out education
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:45 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
12. I can't get Biblical about it
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:51 AM
Nov 2014

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

TexasMommaWithAHat

(3,212 posts)
90. Anyone paid a salary is taxed already
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:34 AM
Nov 2014

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

TexasMommaWithAHat

(3,212 posts)
95. I meant from a "moral" perspective
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:46 AM
Nov 2014

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.

cbayer

(146,218 posts)
124. Option three is not a good option, because that is the status quo.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:13 PM
Nov 2014

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

cbayer

(146,218 posts)
146. See #122 for an overview.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:12 PM
Nov 2014

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

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
7. Churches are usually tax exempt because they are non-profit.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:45 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
10. I was under the impression that was already the law
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:49 AM
Nov 2014

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).

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
17. The area of law is a little wobbly, and not my personal area of expertise.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:01 AM
Nov 2014

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.


Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
21. Sure but...
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:05 AM
Nov 2014

...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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
23. As I said, mutually assured destruction.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:12 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Major Nikon

(36,817 posts)
68. Non-profit does not mean tax exempt
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:57 AM
Nov 2014

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

 

Niko

(97 posts)
9. Churches shouldn't even be legal
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:48 AM
Nov 2014

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

 

Niko

(97 posts)
15. Want to know what's extremist?
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:56 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
18. Yes, yes, you've fulfilled your proselytizing quota
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:03 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

Niko

(97 posts)
34. Atheists can't proselytize
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:52 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
37. Bullshit
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:03 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
53. It's actually not all that common
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:34 AM
Nov 2014

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

MADem

(135,425 posts)
55. The trend towards atheism as a faith is growing, as well.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:42 AM
Nov 2014

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.




Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
56. Atheism isn't a faith
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:51 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
60. That's not really true as a legal matter.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:08 AM
Nov 2014

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.

MADem

(135,425 posts)
61. So then faiths without supreme beings wouldn't be regarded as faiths, either...?
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:22 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
88. Only some atheists believe
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:28 AM
Nov 2014

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

MADem

(135,425 posts)
93. I dunno....
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:38 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

Oktober

(1,488 posts)
62. It's rare that someone will try to prove the negative....
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:25 AM
Nov 2014

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)

 

stone space

(6,498 posts)
80. It's not rare for people to try to prove so-called "negatives".
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:45 PM
Nov 2014

This atheist does it all the time.

Sometimes with success, and sometimes not.

But proving "negatives" can be fun.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
87. And yet
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 08:50 PM
Nov 2014

Last edited Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:34 AM - 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.

 

Niko

(97 posts)
65. So you pretty much agree with me then
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 10:44 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
86. You are proselytizing
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 08:44 PM
Nov 2014

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.

trotsky

(49,533 posts)
107. Is it OK for Democrats to "proselytize"?
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 11:03 AM
Nov 2014

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?

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
108. And your point is?
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 11:06 AM
Nov 2014

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.

trotsky

(49,533 posts)
109. Republicans have made it quite clear they aren't interested in our point of view.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 11:10 AM
Nov 2014

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?

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
110. Yes, Republicans have made that clear
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 11:18 AM
Nov 2014

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.

trotsky

(49,533 posts)
111. That's a very broad brush.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 11:27 AM
Nov 2014

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?

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
138. I'm not making it personal
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:40 PM
Nov 2014

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

trotsky

(49,533 posts)
141. Actually, yes, you did.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:49 PM
Nov 2014

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.

 

Niko

(97 posts)
147. Don't take the bait, trotsky. I am not proselytizing
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:14 PM
Nov 2014

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.

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
148. Well there is one linking belief
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:19 PM
Nov 2014

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

 

Niko

(97 posts)
150. They're committing fraud
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:29 PM
Nov 2014

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

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
151. Nods - so if someone says to you "I think Moby is the best electronica act of the 1990s"
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:36 PM
Nov 2014

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

cbayer

(146,218 posts)
127. It's all about salvation, Prophet.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:18 PM
Nov 2014

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!

 

Oktober

(1,488 posts)
59. Yes yes... We've all read it...
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:05 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
20. Well, you are certainly free to advocate changing the First Amendment
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:05 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

Niko

(97 posts)
29. Does the First Amendment cover outright fraud?
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:38 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
32. Faith is not legally fraud.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:50 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

Niko

(97 posts)
35. And I'm saying it should be
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:55 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
38. First, I never said all religions are always positive.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:08 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

Niko

(97 posts)
82. It's FRAUD
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:37 PM
Nov 2014

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.

Response to Niko (Reply #9)

cbayer

(146,218 posts)
126. Yeah!! Let's outlaw churches, that's the ticket.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:17 PM
Nov 2014

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.

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
130. Welcome to DU. Hey I paid $6.99 for an album on I-Tunes yesterday -
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:23 PM
Nov 2014

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

 

Niko

(97 posts)
149. Did you get what you paid for?
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:26 PM
Nov 2014

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.

el_bryanto

(11,804 posts)
152. I do get what I want out of my faith - a closer connection to God.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:37 PM
Nov 2014

So I am not being defrauded, right?

Bryant

ismnotwasm

(41,952 posts)
134. What would you replace them with?
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:34 PM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
140. I think we would need a new federal agency,
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:46 PM
Nov 2014

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

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
26. Only if you feel the need to
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:14 AM
Nov 2014

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

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
27. I think everyone knew what you meant, i.e., engaging in true and selfless charity.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 01:18 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
158. No arguement there
Wed Nov 26, 2014, 08:14 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

Oktober

(1,488 posts)
63. Ask him to send down a list and I'll see if I agree....
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:29 AM
Nov 2014

Until that point...

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

Jamastiene

(38,187 posts)
36. If they would keep their preaching in the pulpit and quit telling people how to vote,
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:01 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
39. I'm sorry you experienced that
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:09 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
45. The First Amendment clearly would prohibit a crime of hate speech.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:35 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Initech

(100,026 posts)
41. There's a church where I live...
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:24 AM
Nov 2014

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?

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
42. What were they going to do with it?
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:26 AM
Nov 2014

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

Initech

(100,026 posts)
43. No they were turning it into a new facility for their church.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:32 AM
Nov 2014

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

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
46. Why?
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 02:37 AM
Nov 2014

Because their house of worship is too big or extravagant?

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

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
49. I know that
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:12 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
58. Why should a big church be treated differently than one that is small.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 04:01 AM
Nov 2014

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.



 

Tierra_y_Libertad

(50,414 posts)
54. As are other businesses and corporations.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:35 AM
Nov 2014

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

MADem

(135,425 posts)
51. Yes but exempt their charitable outreach activities so long as they are offered to ALL
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:23 AM
Nov 2014

regardless of faith affiliation or lack thereof.

pnwmom

(108,951 posts)
57. They need to be treated as any other non-profit. Nothing else is constitutional.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 03:57 AM
Nov 2014
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
 

hrmjustin

(71,265 posts)
69. If you tax churches and other houses of worship then you open up the possibility they can
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:15 AM
Nov 2014

endorse candidates.

Lars39

(26,102 posts)
72. And I have no doubt at all that is already happening.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:32 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

hrmjustin

(71,265 posts)
73. Yes but there should be consequences to them for breaking the law.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:37 AM
Nov 2014

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

Also this will hurt struggling churches.

LWolf

(46,179 posts)
76. Yes.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:49 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

truebluegreen

(9,033 posts)
78. I was thinking of exempting charitable activities
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:02 PM
Nov 2014

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

northoftheborder

(7,569 posts)
79. I think religious organizations should be taxed if they publicly state political opinions, ---
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 12:36 PM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
84. Churches are already taxed for "non-church" activities.
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 05:47 PM
Nov 2014

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.

SoCalDem

(103,856 posts)
85. Of course they should
Sun Nov 23, 2014, 05:54 PM
Nov 2014

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.

TexasMommaWithAHat

(3,212 posts)
89. Why should they be taxed?
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:31 AM
Nov 2014

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?

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
92. Well,
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:38 AM
Nov 2014

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.

TexasMommaWithAHat

(3,212 posts)
96. Their pastor pays taxes on his salary
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 12:49 AM
Nov 2014

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.

ScreamingMeemie

(68,918 posts)
98. Nice Avatar!
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 01:13 AM
Nov 2014


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

Notafraidtoo

(402 posts)
101. I think the tax structure should encourage good works.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 06:16 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
103. It's a bit different here (UK)
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 09:22 AM
Nov 2014

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.

 

demwing

(16,916 posts)
104. Yes, as regular income
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 09:33 AM
Nov 2014

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

Calista241

(5,585 posts)
112. The black church a few blocks away from me
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 11:32 AM
Nov 2014

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.

ProfessorGAC

(64,801 posts)
113. Yes
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 11:50 AM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
114. I'm British
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 01:14 PM
Nov 2014

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

ProfessorGAC

(64,801 posts)
116. Was Not A Criticism Proph!
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 01:25 PM
Nov 2014

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

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
118. Sorry, my misunderstanding
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 01:40 PM
Nov 2014

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

 

hifiguy

(33,688 posts)
115. I am with Frank Zappa
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 01:18 PM
Nov 2014

"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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
117. Don't know any Frank Zappa
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 01:34 PM
Nov 2014

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.

Xithras

(16,191 posts)
119. Yes. If one is operating properly, it will pay no taxes anyway.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 01:42 PM
Nov 2014

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.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
120. The argument, as I understand it...
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 01:45 PM
Nov 2014

...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.

cbayer

(146,218 posts)
122. The lack of understanding on this subject and the emotionally based responses are embarrassing.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:11 PM
Nov 2014

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.

upaloopa

(11,417 posts)
129. If churches are truly non profit I would say no
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:21 PM
Nov 2014

Last edited Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:57 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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
133. Priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, and all other types of religious leaders, officials and employees
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 04:34 PM
Nov 2014

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.

louis-t

(23,263 posts)
153. Yes, but there are churches that are hurting right now.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 05:58 PM
Nov 2014

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

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
155. The government should treat certain churches differently than others, including tax preferences?
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 09:27 PM
Nov 2014

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.

louis-t

(23,263 posts)
156. That's what I'm saying. Progressive tax, but why does it have to be all non-profits?
Tue Nov 25, 2014, 07:57 PM
Nov 2014

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.

 

branford

(4,462 posts)
157. Churches are tax-exempt under the same tax code provisions as other nonprofits and charities,
Tue Nov 25, 2014, 10:23 PM
Nov 2014

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.




PDJane

(10,103 posts)
154. Tax churches in the same way we tax people......or should tax people.
Mon Nov 24, 2014, 09:20 PM
Nov 2014

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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