Tax exempt status is extended to religious organizations with the understanding
that the organizations are engaged in the practice of religion. When a church
starts lobbying for ballot initiatives, parties, and/or candidates, even if that
arises from a religious belief, it has clearly stepped out of the religious
realm and into the secular.There's no reason a person
can't belong to both a church and to a political party. They each have a
separate mission. Political parties, however, are not tax exempt. There is much a church can do that has a political effect without becoming a
political organization. Community organizing, peace vigils, human rights work,
championing the downtrodden, honoring sacrifices, these are all traditional
activities of the peace church. Activities of churches that are less
traditional, such as picketing soldiers' funerals, are also protected. On
the other hand, funneling contributions to ballot initiatives, pledging support
to candidates, not so much. There's a clear line between taking up a cause
and engaging the mechanics of the ballot.
"Sure, we want separate church and state, but you can't say this, and
this, and this inside the church walls, and also, you really should be paying
the government tribute. That's not a violation of complete separation. But
everything else, of course, completely separate."
So if "Black Protestant churchgoers are eight times as likely to hear about
political candidates at church as their white mainline counterparts." is
that where the IRS will start their witch hunt at the Black community and
"The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit group of
atheists and agnostics who aim "to keep religion and government
separate," filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service in 2012,
claiming the tax agency didn't pursue investigations of religious
organizations..."Isnt it ironic that the very thing they say is
their aim, keeping church & state separate, is the very thing they're
actually encouraging to have happen! Stick that governmental nose into that
church-house! Personally, I think it's unconstitutional. People have the
God-given right to speak in their church buildings with impunity.
The article also stated that the law was suggested by Lyndon B. Johnson to
target group which opposed him politically. This is much the same thing we have
witnessed under the workings of the IRS the past few years.It is
perfectly natural for churches to have political feelings; since so much of
politics as of late seems to go right to the heart of many belief issues:
Abortion; Contraceptives; Education; Self Defense and Family values. More often
than not, it seems to me that those who oppose the view point of religiously
minded individuals have much the same motivation as L.B. Johnson and the I.R.S.
@Eagle78I agree. Presidents from both parties are blamed for things
they did not do, don't get credit for good things they do and take credit
for good things they did not cause.@ExTBirdI disagree
with your assertion that the wall of separation between church and state goes
one way. The state has no right to appoint leaders of my denomination or any
other. It does not have the right to determine doctrine or other beliefs.
Secondly, I don't obey the government. Through the electoral and other
democratic processes we collectively grant the government power to enforce laws.
I believe that you will agree with that statement but I will make it
explicit.I do not buy into your view of the state. It is not
omnipotent or omniscient; it is often not benevolent and it certainly should not
be omnipresent. In short, it is not God. The secular, democratic state is a
means of governance, not a religion.
As a freedom of speech advocate, the 1954 Johnson amendment is a contradiction
to the 1st amendment. It should be 100% acceptable to compare and contrast
candidates, their voting records, and their personal lives, from the pulpit. I
don't believe in clergy endorsed candidates though. I expect people to be
able to think for themselves.Here's another part of the
problem.... Political Parties. The Party System is so corrupt now, there's
no way you can successfully "vote your conscience" without also
supporting the corruption. Specifically I refer to party-lines non-moderate
voting. Meaning you cant be a moderate in politics without suffering the wrath
of the party if you don't vote along with them. If a vote happens to land
outside party lines, the wrath of the party leadership comes down hard. Funding
and support for future terms are on the line. You're alienated.
Meaning...values and virtues are not as important as voting party lines.
It's my opinion that members of the church should no longer associate
themselves with either party.
@ Ender - Salt Lake City, UT "@Ranch, If it's so "secret", then
why do you know about it?"Ha! Ha! Now THAT is funny!
SCfan, That "wall" goes one way for a reason. We obey the
government. We don't obey your religion. The point of separation of
church and state isn't to try and keep you equal. You're not equal.
The government can interfere with religion if it feels it has to because they
don't answer to your church leaders, your god, or your ficticious beliefs.
The point is for you to know your place, and not step out of bounds and start
making those ficticous beliefs law.If your religion wants to get
political no one is going to stop them. Get into the ring if that's what
you want. Just start paying your taxes accordingly. If you're going to
play then you play by the rules, and pay your dues.
Kalindra Wow, the members of a church will act like Brown Shirts and will
report on their congregations and get the IRS on them. Yeah, I can see how that
would be good for seperation of Church and state. Not to mention how it would
keep the congregations together in harmony. Yet it would not be OK for the
Church leaders to warn about who in government is dangerous to their church and
ask for the congregation to vote accordingly. How come when it comes to the
"wall of seperation" you liberals so desperately want, it is a one way
street. Government can interfere with religion, but religion is supposed to
stay out of government? And by the way, the IRS is working for
Obama. And apparantly he wants to change the way things have been done since
1954. Otherwise there would be no story here. That was my point.
@WacoanThat is just the ugly, petty side of politics sadly. When
Bush was in office Dems did it to. They blamed him for everything, and never
gave credit when it was due.The truth is that no one can really
understand what it's like to be President until you are sitting in that
chair. It is one of the reasons that I have always believed that you should
respect the office itself, and not necessarily the man. The right and the left
held hands and led our country to where it is now. We love to blame everything
on the other side, but I'd like to think most people are smart enough to
accept that in the end it doesn't really matter if you're right or
left... they both suck! :D
@TolstoyI believe that SC Fan was blaming President Obama for agreeing to
increase enforcement of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, not passing it. I might add
that the agreement is not transparent and it should be particularly given his
campaign pledge on transparency. In my opinion, the story is front page news
because the IRS is one of the most important enforcement units of the
government, it engaged in politically motivated actions with non-profits, and it
agreed to a non-transparent change in enforcement policy.The best
political response to the amendment would be its repeal. In deference to
JoeBlow, tax considerations can and should be separated from free speech
considerations.As a postscript, perhaps President Obama takes a
little too much heat for things beyond his control. He is probably not
responsible for the stone a truck threw up into my windshield a couple of years
The entire concept of non-profits not being able to have political speech was
implemented by Lyndon Johnson as a move to censor non-profits that were critical
of him.I am actually shocked that the Supreme Court has not
invalidated this affront to free speech: particularly when its implementation is
so blatantly political: When was the last time a church promoting left wing
dogma was ever investigated? (Jeremiah wright) Will the IRS also investigate
atheist groups? Is there really any question regarding the hypocrisy and hate or
who is truly anti-First Amendment?ordinaryfolksIts good that
most churches dont emulate the intolerant left who have a propensity to call
everyone who disagrees a hater, fundamentalist or bigot.Even though
politically correct bullies think it works pretty well; alot of people can see
it for the hypocrisy that it is
@Mexican UteSeparation of church and state is not something
religious people respect in the slightest. It is really pretty simple.
Separation of church and state either goes both ways, or it's meaningless.
Religion can't hide behind it when its convenient and then disregard it
when they feel like pushing their agenda. Which quite frankly is exactly what
they try to do.The government going after their money is exactly
what I have been hoping to see for years now. I have no problems with tax
breaks for groups that mind their own business. Preach your fairy tales as
often as you like, just keep it to yourself. I'm tired of having them
forced down my throat. So are millions of other people who don't subscribe
to your particular brand of fiction. You hate gay marriage so much? Great
don't allow it in your religion. Hate and judge away my gullible friends.
Just stop trying to manipulate the law into making your beliefs law that must be
obeyed by all. If not? Goodbye tax breaks. Hello big payday for the US.
Two words: Prop 8.
As a lifelong active LDS member, I know the rules about not endorsing candidates
etc. But, if we really have freedom of speech, we ought to be able to, if we
want (in other words, the first presidency ought to be able to, if it chooses),
to endorse a candidate if we ever come to a point where they feel that is the
right thing to do. For the IRS to try to discern how much of a preacher's
preaching is religion and how much politics...I think that is above their pay
grade. I realize that then some political organization could claim
to be a church just to avoid taxes...my solution is to make both churches AND
political organizations tax exempt. Anything nonprofit would be tax exempt.
Furthermore, all the campaign contribution laws that are designed to prevent too
much $ influence in politics may have meant well, but are also denying freedom
of speech, and should be struck down.
Not a good idea."Live and let live" would apply here.Where is the seperation of Church and state that so many of our dear gay
marriage advocates preaching for here?
This is scary,It is NONE of the IRS's (governments) business
what we preach or say.Does the first amendment mean anything?
Doesn't their nonprofit do exactly the same thing? Involve themselves in
political matters. You just can't say vote for a specific candidate. Just
like the atheists org that can say please protest the ten commandment catholic
parish can say contact your representative and tell them what you think about
that bill about contraception.
sorry page not bag
@SC Fan and othersSo now a law passed in 1954 is all a big left wing
conspiracy by Liberals and Obama? there is a very simple reason this is not
front bag news this law and people challenging various churches status is old
After it is all said an done; the bottom line is that churches are
international business corporations and their tax exempt status means others
have to be taxed to cover the churches not paying tax. And churches like the
Mormon church that have so many buildings that all benefit from police, fire,
street service, etc pass the cost on to others to pay the tax.
The LDS church does not take a stand on individual candidates, it only involves
itself in particular ballot initiatives. Now, is there an LDS ward somewhere
where a Bishop gives a sacrament meeting talk that includes urging people to
vote for Mitt Romney? Probably, after all people are flawed and there's a
lot of wards so law of averages I'm sure someone's going to do
something against the rules. It's much different than other
churches where sermons can be a lot more political, and this goes both ways,
with conservative evangelical churches, particularly the ones adamantly (to the
point of organizing protests) against abortion telling people to vote for or
against so-and-so, and you'd have to be naive to think the "souls to
the polls" trips by black churches don't have some of them with
preachers giving direction on how to vote. (By the way, when Democrats get angry
about cutting early voting the sunday before election day, that's the
reason, it's a popular day for black voter turnout).There's surely some churches on both sides going against the rules for
tax exempt status.
Ranch, what else would you do from a pulpit? Isn't that the proper place
for "preaching". Would you deny a church's 1st Amendment rights?
Not very progressive of you guys to even suggest that. I've come to expect
that from "progressives" though. Do as I say, not as I do. I'm
tolerant of your views, as long as they coincide with mine.
Wow. I've heard some of the same critics of the church on these boards
accuse those on the right side of the political spectrum of wearing tin foil
hats. Sheesh. Pot, meet kettle.
The LDS Church to my knowledge has never told their members which candidates to
vote for. Now if you are talking about beliefs regarding items that many feel
are political. The church does encourage it's members to support views
that are in harmony with gospel teachings - such as the sanctity of the family.
If you want to know the church's views on the family, then read and study
the Family Proclamation to the World. In every ward I have lived in around
election time, a statement from the 1st Presidency is read over the pulpit
encouraging the members to learn about the candidates and issues being voted on,
and then to go and vote. Nothing is said specifically on how they should vote.
And everyone is reminded that church buildings cannot be used for political
@Ender;Someone leaked a memo. I don't have the link on this
computer but I do have it on another (I'll try to remember to find it later
and post info on googleing it).It is a memo that details minutes
from LDS meetings relating to every single state where an amendment was passed.
It clearly shows the local church's involvement for a very long time in
each of these efforts.Why don't you try to put aside your
unwillingness to believe that your leaders may have been involved in shady
dealings (secret combinations) and try to google it yourself. They're only
men, after all. In a few years, the next generation of leaders will put out
"essays" saying that the current crop was only expressing their
@ SCFan: It always amazes me how powerful Obama is - according to you, he is
responsible for a policy adopted in 1954, 7 years before he was born.As for how will the IRS know who to investigate - do you really think it will
be that hard? Not everyone who attends a particular church has the same
political leanings, and many who attend church feel the need to go home and post
on Facebook or twitter what was discussed at church that day. All it takes is
for one member to be offended and report it to the IRS or one person to post in
public that the church leader said something related to who to vote for and that
will be reported. If there is a significant number of complaints against one
organization or individual, the IRS will investigate.@ patriot:
What evidence do you have the Reverend Wright ever told his congregation who to
vote for?Religion should be welcoming to all. Mixing politics with
religion is a good way to drive people from religion.
P.S. to Deseret News. This story should be headline news. Not just put back in
the Faith section.
this is pretty funny stuff. You mean to tell me all the HATE conservative
churches (Jerimiah Wright) are going to be targeting by the IRS now? Dream on.
The ONLY churches that the IRS is interested in are those who even remotely
speak against Barack Obama. Those churches that bash conservatives are just
fine...no problem-o! This is all been seen before in Communist Russia and the
USSR as well as other Communist countries where BIG Brother is always watching
any sort of negative talk against their poltical leader at the top and will dish
out terrible consequences to all those who dare to speak freely (The Hungar
Games). Don't think for a second that America hasn't stooped to that
same level - it has and the recent IRS targeting proves it.
This should garner hundreds of posts, as it is one of the most dangerous
policies I've yet heard of being done by our federal government. Under
Obama, I might add. So, what is supposed to happen? Government
undercover cops (maybe you would want this job Ranch) go to churches, sit there
and listen for someone saying something political? This strikes me as the
United States getting closer and closer to totalitarian government. And the
gaul of them, right after this IRS and Lois Lerner stuff. And by the way, if
one were to really want to enforce this, the first churches they should look at
are ones in which people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Jeremiah Wright go
to. The point is, if they want to preach politics from the pulpit, then fine.
Because there is no way to draw a line between pure religion and pure politics.
They cross over all the time. Just read the scriptures, and you will see that.
@Coach Biff,If you are not aware of your church's desire for not only
world domination, but also universal population and domination: then you just do
not know your religion.
@RanchIf it's so "secret", then why do you know about it?Please stop spreading lies, misinformation, and mistrust....unless you'd actually like to disclose some of your sources?
(verifiable ones, please)
@Coach Biff;"Render unto Caesar...". Playing politics is a
"Caesar" thing, churches that want to play politics (preach from the
pulpit) are acting as political organizations and not religious
organizations.As for your not being a "secret society", are
you aware of the "secret" involvement of Utah's leading church in
political maneuvers designed to deny one group of citizens equality under the
law? They secretly acted in every single state that successfully passed
amendments to that effect. I'd call that quite apparent as a "secret
society" or as the BOM put it "secret combinations".
Yes, ordinary, we are a secret society bent on world domination through whisper
campaigns and social pressure. Groupthink is what we are all about. We
don't have diversity of thought in our church. Oh, no. Harry Reid and
Mike Lee are of the same mind. Their differences are all a smoke screen.
Why don't the fundamentalist churches emulate the LDS? Use the whisper
campaign to channel contributions, and use social pressure to get adherents to
vote "correctly".Works in Utah pretty well.
Ranch, What is a "political" organization? Seems pretty vague in your
If you want to be a political organization then pay taxes. It's pretty
Easy fix.Lower tax rates and lose ALL tax deductions. Problem solved.
"Teach people correct principles then let them govern themselves" should
be thought of more in my opinion by those who think they need to use religious
forums to teach their political views. If they want to influence someone one
way or another. Do it by teaching truth and let the people make their own
conclusions. After all... you might be wrong in how you are judging the other
side! Teach truth and let the cards lay where they will.