Comments about ‘IRS sued to tighten enforcement of church electioneering’

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Published: Thursday, Nov. 15 2012 12:00 p.m. MST

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Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

Interesting that groups can sue leaders in churches for using their free speech during an election. Why can someone sue another person that is expressing free speech? Even in a position of trust or perceived power? Politicians are allowed to voice their opinion, yet we claim they represent all people (isn't that a conflict of interest? Do they not hold a position of trust?).

I think religion should be able to voice their opinions wherever and however they want to. Their charitable work makes up more than taxing them to death would accomplish.

I understand the fear of religion taking over government. But you could say that about any group, organization etc.

What we should be looking into is overseas money influencing candidates, politicians and those that are getting sweet stock deals. Yeah, they passed a law to slap their own hands, but, let's face it...if you can make millions for a slap on the hand. It's still worth it.

Salt Lake City, UT

@Liberal Ted
Because we have laws against tax exempt organizations like churches from openly endorsing candidates. That's the same law that leads to things like the Deseret News not endorsing candidates and the LDS church explicitly stating that they do not get involved except on certain ballot initiatives and are neutral with regards to candidates/parties. There are other churches though that don't stay within these confines.

one old man
Ogden, UT

How about also suing fake "charities" like the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is not taxed because they have managed to stretch the laws and set themselves up as a tax exempt charity.

And for that matter, how about suing all those anonymous PACs?

casual observer
Salt Lake City, UT

The rule is that you can practice religion in your home and on Sunday, but not the rest of the week. Now it seems that Sundays are at risk. Is the home next?

Glendora, CA

Will this "non profit" also pursue the Black churches in the country who vocally supported Obama from the pulpit? Notice their preference?

Sandy, UT


Though I am vehemently opposed to the authoritarian efforts of the federal government in general and the IRS in specific to restrict the freedom of speech and/or compel citizens and organizations into taxation, this lawsuit is a contradiction and will therefore go by the wayside. As you've pointed out, dozens, if not hundreds, of black preachers must have encouraged their parishioners to re-elect President Obama. As the quintessential G man, I'm pretty certain he (The President) would love to send the IRS after churches for more tax revenue. However, that would, at the same time, pose too much of a threat to his base. My guess is this story will die in another 24-48.


@ casual observer: Where does this have anything to do with practicing religion?

@ morpunkt: Where does it say this group isn't going after all churches? The name of the group is Freedom From Religion - what about that implies that they support any religion?

The law is very clear - if you are a tax-free organization, you cannot advocate for a candidate. If you wish to advocate for a candidate, you need a separate taxable branch that does the advocating for you. It is not rocket science - it is plain English.

That said - the examples provided in this article do not show a clear violation of the rule, although there is an implied violation. Since all they are asking is that an investigation be done, it is hard to guess how it will turn out.

Huntsville, UT

Religion and politics do not mix. Tax churches and ta-da, problem solved.

newark, OH

Please, the title of the article states that the IRS is being sued, not churches. Let the courts decide if it is being negligent.

Sandy, UT

Maudine said,

"Since all they are asking is that an investigation be done, it is hard to guess how it will turn out."

I have a guess. This story will die in a day or two. This threatens the supporting base of all parties in the recent elections, but most importantly the parties that won and are currently in power. They'll sweep this under the rug like they've done with far worse scandals. So be it. You're right that it is the law, so to speak. However, I have zero interest in upholding what I consider to be an unconstitutional law. Moreover, I'm STRONGLY opposed to churches, regardless of what nonsense they spew from their pulpits, being forced to pay money to a totally corrupt and incompetent federal government.

Phoenix, AZ

Organized religion and corporated churchs must be kept out of government and the public square or the nation will end up with the same social problem as the middle east nations with radicals and extremist fighting one another for control and obedience to their paranoic believes.

the truth
Holladay, UT


Those "laws" are unconstitutional,

which is why the IRS has never even tried to enforce them.

We have free speech in this country regardless if you pay taxes or not. And Religions and the religious enjoy those rights as well.

Do we really want the government proscribing what can said over the pulpit? IS that not the reason for the first 9th and 10th amendments?

There is nothing which stops the D-News from endorsing candidates, and there is nothing that stops the church from endorsing candidates, the church just chooses wisely not to get involved in politics because politics are not important in regards to eternal salvation. The church follows the precept that they teach men correct principles and let men the agency to govern themselves, hopefully following those principles.

But the church has every right to interject if they believe it is necessary, especially in moral issues or issues that may be destructive to society.

God does care about us temporally as well as spiritually. Ans cares about our liberty. And will give us counsel through personal prayer or his servants.

The Scientist
Provo, UT

Many Churches are really little more than PACs and MLM schemes.

Sandy, UT


What about non-religious entities? What about our secular government? So they can disseminate their propaganda, often on the taxpayers' dime, but churches can't (or they can, they just have to give up tax free status)? How incredibly injust! How incredibly unconstitutional!

The Skeptical Chymist

I've never understood why religious organizations are given special treatment in the IRS tax code. The first amendment establishes freedom of religion, and of the press. Yet, publishing companies are taxed and churches are not. Why is it that I can get a deduction by donating money to a church, but not when I donate the money to a political party? By singling out religious organizations for tax exemption, the government is clearly acting to promote religion, contrary to the spirit of the first amendment. I suppose it doesn't rise to the level of "establishment of religion", but it is clearly special treatment that runs counter to the Enlightenment ideals that led to the founding of this country.


@ killpack: All tax-free agencies - whether churches or secular organizations - are held to the same laws pertaining to political advocacy.

Anyone who violates those laws has to give up their tax-free status.

It really is not a conspiracy against churches.

Buena Vista, VA

@ The Skeptical Chymist,
I disagree. The founders of the USA were not antireligion, nor did they oppose religion in the public square. It would have been A-OK with them for government to encourage people to be religious, just not to encourage a certain religion.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT


"Religion and politics do not mix. Tax churches and ta-da, problem solved."

Quite the contrary. Ever hear of "No Taxation Without Representation"? Tax churches and these restrictions are no longer in place. That would give a "green light" for churches to be more influenced in politics, not less.

Res Novae
Ashburn, VA

The complaint that a tax exemption amounts to promotion of religion has been specifically addressed by SCOTUS:

"The grant of a tax exemption is not sponsorship, since the government does not transfer part of its revenue to churches, but simply abstains from demanding that the church support the state. No one has ever suggested that tax exemption has converted libraries, art galleries, or hospitals into arms of the state or put employees 'on the public payroll.' There is no genuine nexus between tax exemption and establishment of religion." Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York (1970).

Laws specifically shielding churches from taxation have been around since the late 1800s, but unofficially the shield has always been there. It's axiomatic in American law that "the power to tax is the power to destroy." Under that bedrock principle, taxing churches gives the government the power to penalize or shut down churches, a clear limitation of the free ezpression of religion.

The specific line-drawing on this issue remains hazy, but the principle of separating church and state has always included tax exemption. Anyone advocating its removal has 200+ years of jurisprudence and public policy to overcome.

Sandy, UT

Maudine said,

"All tax-free agencies - whether churches or secular organizations - are held to the same laws pertaining to political advocacy."

Kathleen Sebelius campaigned for Obamacare on the taxpayers dime. The media didn't even blink an eye. Why shouldn't churches be able to campaign with their own money? I hope this story dies a quick and painless death.

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