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Knock Down That Wall!
July 11, 2002 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Knock Down That Wall! The wall that keeps the church and state separated, not the one in Berlin. "Two bills currently being debated in the U. S. Congress would allow churches to spend their funds on political campaigns and to endorse political candidates. H.R. 2357, sponsored by Representative Walter Jones (R-N.C.), would remove a longstanding rule that banned churches from using tax-exempt revenue to fund political campaigns."
posted by nofundy (29 comments total)

 
i've really got to start working on my foreign language skills so i can have a back-up plan.

but hey, just TAX the churches and let them do whatever they want with the money.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:03 PM on July 11, 2002


Relax. First, no way is either of these going to pass constitutional muster. They'll get one challenge and ptui! Out they'll go. Second, in two short years, everyone is going to get a chance to do the same to Bush & Co. It's not like he's King, people! Vote his ass out in '03, and he and all his buds will slink back to Texas.
posted by UncleFes at 1:08 PM on July 11, 2002


Just remember, th3ph17, there's a downside to taxing the churches, at least if you're a separationist. If you tax the church, then you also have to let the church participate freely in other funding government programs. You take the good with the bad, I guess.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:08 PM on July 11, 2002


If I understand correctly, you wouldn't need to tax the churches, under current law the churches are allowed to organize a separate taxed organization for political fund raising purposes. You would just have to keep the accounts separate, the rest of the church activities could remain tax free. What's the problem?
posted by malphigian at 1:12 PM on July 11, 2002


Text of H.R. 2357
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:12 PM on July 11, 2002


I'd lobby my Congressmen about it, but being from Utah I have no doubt they'll all be co-sponsors.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:13 PM on July 11, 2002


Tax the churches, its the only real separation of church and state, then the churches can spend their contributions as they wish. The current tax exempt status of churches means that the government has to be involved in church affairs, as they get to decide who is and isn't a valid religious organization.

This would also mean that churches would be more likely to actually distribute funds rather than amass them in a ponzi-scheme like fashion to the Vatican, Billy Graham or the Christian Coalition.

This is the only way that all organizations, regardless of religion, could be considered constitutionally equal. Once the government gets to decide that one form of worship is more valid than another there is obviously a bias. On the other hand if they didn't do this under the current scenario you can bet that I'd be forming "Substrate's Church of the Neverending Hummer" pretty damned quick.
posted by substrate at 1:15 PM on July 11, 2002


Can I ask, Do all churches go exempt?, I know some that pay, why same reason I pay mine(taxes). So I can do what I want(legally and some illegally) in my home. I can only think of one group who should never pay taxes, the American Indian. Did our forefathers intend for us, well that is an argument in itself. Except I bet they gave without being told. Remember it says in the bible to tithe, which was not for the church only, also for the community in general. And if your over taxed by the state well then your tithe would accommodate it, meaning being less. No scriptures sorry yet this is common sense and this is not a religious matter, just plain business.
Now your asking for a church in a state.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:36 PM on July 11, 2002


Anyone who's anti-church should give these bills their wholehearted support. Energetic church endorsements of one or another political candidate will provoke mass sectariansim and spasmodic schisming, reducing religion into a mass of tiny splinter groups screaming ineffectually into one another's faces.
posted by Faze at 1:36 PM on July 11, 2002


Religion sucks. Oops. Did I say that out loud?
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:43 PM on July 11, 2002


Can I ask: "Do all churches go tax- exempt?" I know that some pay, for the same reason that I pay my taxes - so I can do what I want (legally and some times illegally) in my home.

I can only think of one group who should never pay taxes: the American Indian. Did our forefathers intend for us to be taxed? Well, that is another argument in itself. I bet they gave (money to the government) without being told - remember, it says in the bible to tithe, which was not for the church only, it was also for the community in general. And if you are over taxed by the state, well then your tithe would accommodate it, meaning being less. No scriptural reference, sorry, to me this is common sense, and not a religious matter, just plain business. Now you are asking for a church in a state.

posted by dash_slot- at 1:47 PM on July 11, 2002


Hope that's what you meant, tcs. :)
posted by dash_slot- at 1:48 PM on July 11, 2002


I'm not religious, but I'm not anti-church. Still, I don't see your scenario happening Faze. Consider the local dividing line where I am, Catholics v.s. Baptists. They like to call each other names (or, it seems the Baptists like to say stuff about the Catholics for the most part) but at the most fundamental political levels they agree: ban abortion, bring back prayer in school, the ten commandments should be upheld in court and anything that's not explicitly anti-gay should be banned from schools. I don't see that either group would change their positions on any of these views to spite the other.

Even in more religiously diverse areas there would be a lot of common goals between any given pair of religions. The overall effect would be an amplification of conservative money influencing politicians.
posted by substrate at 1:51 PM on July 11, 2002


Churches should be taxed just like any other business.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:06 PM on July 11, 2002


Or perhaps this?

I can request, I make all the churches I go free, I know some that pays, because for the same reason I payment mine(taxes). I can do so what I want(legally and something illegal) in my home. I can only think about a group that must never pay taxes, the American Indian. It made our ancestors think for us, that it is a discussion in itself well. Unless it bet they gave without being said. Remember also says in the bible to tithe, that it was not for the church only, for the community in general. And if its excessive taxed by the well of the then state his tithe would accommodate it, meaning being less. There is no scriptures grieved this one common sense yet and this is not a religious question, level business just. Now his to request a church in a state.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:09 PM on July 11, 2002


There ain't much of a difference between a bridge and a wall.
posted by geoff. at 2:09 PM on July 11, 2002


There ain't much of a difference between a bridge and a wall.

Seems more like a dike (this, not this) than a wall to me. The question is, which side will the flood be coming from?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:22 PM on July 11, 2002


Energetic church endorsements of one or another political candidate will provoke mass sectariansim and spasmodic schisming, reducing religion into a mass of tiny splinter groups screaming ineffectually into one another's faces.
and the difference would be...?
posted by quonsar at 2:46 PM on July 11, 2002


Religion sucks. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

Yes. It sucks the lives and minds (and a lot of money) out of people who might have been capable of independant creative thought.
posted by plaino at 2:53 PM on July 11, 2002


This passes, I'm leaving.
posted by SpecialK at 2:54 PM on July 11, 2002


dash_slot thanks, My stirred passion, plus a pot of coffee added to my overload of brain & skills. Want to be my editor? And the coffee is clouding what exactly, monju_bosatsu had to say with my words, honestly it sounded like my french buddies rephrasing my english. I kind of understood you monju. Let me say, I speak from living life. My christian high school asked to vote "no" to anything that would "tax free" them. My pastors of my churches have all paid income taxes like me and you.
I think that as a seperation pay taxes. You wanted a stance, or which side to listen to? Please explain more...
And now I'm being rephrased, lol
posted by thomcatspike at 3:36 PM on July 11, 2002


My objection to the churches is that they mark off spots, protected by the police, and I am not able to park anywhere near the church. Soon, they will have the right to have their own parking meters! Close down the churches for worship and open bingo parlors 24/7 instead.
posted by Postroad at 3:43 PM on July 11, 2002


Monju, your dike, not this, has a church sign in it.
Honestly I think the worst scenario will happen, unfortunately, and no I'm not using ''law ", rushmc ;), as I see things separate.
Above 1st post, I tried to be flat out, no hidden message.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:58 PM on July 11, 2002


I'd lobby my Congressmen about it, but being from Utah I have no doubt they'll all be co-sponsors.

Being from Oklahoma, I bet my Congressmen will wrestle yours for the privilege.
posted by Dirjy at 7:58 PM on July 11, 2002


and no I'm not using ''law ", rushmc ;)

What? I haven't even posted in this thread!
posted by rushmc at 8:28 PM on July 11, 2002


those of you that are advocating the taxation of church seem to believe that churches have some sort of profit to be taxed. My church is completely financially dependent on the donations of its members. If it were taxed, members would either have to start giving more money or it would have to close down. Thus, taxing my church is basically like taxing me for chosing to attend a church. In my view, such a policy would interfere with my free excercise of religion as guaranteed by the first amendment.

Also, if the government were to start taxing churchs, wouldn't it, in the interests of fairness, have to start taxing secular non-profit organizations like homeless shelters and soup kitchens as well? The situation is even more complicated when you consider that many, if not most, of the chartible organizations in this country are faith-based.

I do agree, however, that the proposed bill is a really bad idea. If churches are tax-exmepted, they should not be allowed to endorse candidates for office. If a church feels that it must endorse a candidate, then it should have to renounce its tax-exempt status and re-incorporate as a lobbying organization.

My church (part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) would probably wind up endorsing politicians that I would generally support (i.e. moderate to liberal democrats). But it would still leave a really bad taste in my mouth to hear my pastor extolling the virtues of Senator X from the pulpit on Sunday. I certainly think that the church has both a right and an obligation to speak out on important public issues. But this can be done quite effectively without actually endorsing particular candidates. I would want nothing to do with a church that tried to tell me who I should vote for in an election.
posted by boltman at 10:06 PM on July 11, 2002


For the record I think the idea of abolishing the separation of church and state guaranteed by our Constitution sucks. Not that the Southern Baptists, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson haven't already crossed the line in a really big way...
posted by nofundy at 6:12 AM on July 12, 2002


...through the looking glass. Can we skip 2003?
posted by holycola at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2002


Thanks boltman. Though we differ in our views at the start of our comments, meaning our view on taxation of churches. Your conclusion, is like minded.
This I loved:
I would want nothing to do with a church that tried to tell me who I should vote for in an election.

My pastors have all said the same on election day. Seperation of state in a church.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:44 AM on July 12, 2002


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