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How We All Pay For the Huge Tax Privileges Granted to Religion

 
 
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:06 pm
http://www.alternet.org/belief/153448/how_we_all_pay_for_the_huge_tax_privileges_granted_to_religion_--_it%27s_time_to_tax_the_church?page=entire

 
rosborne979
 
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Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 07:47 pm
@Chights47,
I believe churches are exempt due in large part to the First Amendment.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jan, 2012 08:54 pm
@rosborne979,
So it seems, but "Congress shall make no respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . ." seems very broadly interpreted if it means the rest of us must subsidize something we simply don't believe in. I used to kind of assume it meant America would not have a state religion as in the case of say, Saudi Arabia.
rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 04:45 am
@roger,
If we taxed them like corporations wouldn't that imply that they had the same rights as corporations (as defined by the supreme court)?
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 05:07 am
Given that corporations so rarely pay taxes, i'd say we already tax them as we tax corporations--which is to say, we don't.
rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 05:26 am
@Setanta,
Ha, yes, I suppose. Smile

But that means that trying to tax churches would be doubly bad because not only would they find ways to avoid paying taxes (through lobbying) but they would also have an overt presence in washington as lobbiests (very well funded lobbiests). So then the government would be controlled not only by corporations (as it is now), but by corporations and churches.
Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 05:29 am
@rosborne979,
They already have an overt presence in Washington, Roswell . . . that was a "Doh!" moment on your part.
rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 05:33 am
@Setanta,
I actually don't know much about this subject. I haven't looked into it much.

I assumed they had some presence in Washington, but I'm not sure what restrictions apply as a result of the first amendment. And I'm not sure to what degree they influence congress or exactly what form it takes.

Years ago I remember reading some good counter-arguments to why we should not tax churches, but I can't actually remember what they were.
rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 05:42 am
@rosborne979,
Ok. I found this: http://churchesandtaxes.procon.org

What a can'o worms....
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 05:51 am
Several states had religious establishments after the revolution. A notable example is Massachusetts, which had a Congregational establishment. That meant that the Congregational Church was the established church of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and what's more, it meant that everyone was required to pay a church tax to support the Congregational Church. (Just so's ya understand, the Congregational Church was the descendant of the Puritans.) All that old bullshit about Thoreau and civil disobedience was just that, bullshit. Thoreau refused to pay his church tax (the panhandling bum probably didn't have the cash), and he didn't go to jail for it, because someone else paid if for him. All that crapola about refusing to pay taxes because of the Mexican War was a load of horseshit.

There never was a formal, judicial review of the issue of taxing churches in those days (see below). In those states which had a religious establishment, exempting churches from taxation was a way to quell opposition to the religious establishment. There was widespread resentment of religious establishments. Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase "wall of separation" in a letter in which he replied to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptist congregation. (Connecticut also had a Congregationalist establishment.) So, it simply became practice to exempt churches from taxation, and as the exemption became traditional, it began to be seen as a right. It was not actually reviewed by the Supremes until 1970, by which time it was such an established tradition, that the Court claimed the exemption was justified under the free exercise clause. Taxing the property which churches own, however, would not prevent the free exercise of religion, it would just mean the preacher can't buy that new car out of his parishioners' Sunday donations.

Tax codes usually exempt religious and apostolic organizations in the same portions of the codes as those in which they exempt charitable and not-for-profit organizations. The amount of abuse that this leads to is staggering--like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker with their solid gold bathroom fixtures. Unfortunately, thanks to the Supremes, it would now require a constitutional amendment to tax them.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 05:57 am
@rosborne979,
There was a religious college in Virginia, and i don't now recall the name, although i've linked it here in the past, which had as its goal the preparation of christians to take places in government, with a view to taking over government from within. Said so right on their home page. These are the kinds of folks who rushed to DC after the Shrub was elected.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 06:07 am
Here ya go, it was Liberty University in Virginia. This will take you to their "Liberty Distinctives" page in their "About Liberty" section. They've cleaned it up considerably since the last time i saw their "About Us" section, but it's clear that they intend to train their students to not simply take part in the life of the nation, but to take it over to prepare for the second coming.
rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 08:53 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
Here ya go, it was Liberty University in Virginia. This will take you to their "Liberty Distinctives" page in their "About Liberty" section. They've cleaned it up considerably since the last time i saw their "About Us" section, but it's clear that they intend to train their students to not simply take part in the life of the nation, but to take it over to prepare for the second coming.
It sounds wonderful. I think I'll sign up. Wink
rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 09:00 am
@Setanta,
Looks like the founder is Jerry Falwell (a fine upstanding, if slightly narrow minded, citizen). Here's one of their standards: "4. An uncompromising doctrinal statement, based upon an inerrant Bible, a Christian worldview beginning with belief in biblical Creationism, an eschatological belief in the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational coming of Christ for all of His Church, dedication to world evangelization, an absolute repudiation of “political correctness,... ”

It looks like they are accredited to give degrees, all the up to doctorate. I wonder how comprehensive their biology sciences department is. And Geological sciences, that one must be fun too. And, oh my god, the Anthropology department, that must be great! Smile
Setanta
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 09:37 am
@rosborne979,
We could get good jobs there . . .
thack45
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 09:38 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
It sounds wonderful. I think I'll sign up. Wink

That's it... let us infiltrate the infiltrators.


Thanks for the info Set.
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rosborne979
 
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2012 09:43 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

We could get good jobs there . . .
Tax free jobs? Smile

This is actually a thread worthy of real debate. After reading the Pro/Con list from the link above, I feel like there are compelling arguments on both sides. Unfortunately I don't have enough free time to spend analyzing it all in detail, but after a cursory look, I'm not sure where I would stand on this topic.
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