Reconsider tax exemptions for political religious institutions

  • Article by: BONNIE ERBE , Scripps Howard News Service
  • Updated: November 28, 2012 - 1:57 PM

Not all churches take political positions, and those that don't should not lose their tax-exempt status.

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my4centsNov. 28, 12 2:52 PM

Who is going to determine which churches are being politically divisive and which are not? The same government that is limiting religious freedom already by forcing religiously-based businesses to provide things that are against their religious beliefs? I would support eliminating all tax exemptions for religious institutions so long as the federal government quits with their own social engineering. Eliminate federal welfare, income redistribution, business subsidies, and taxes on those things the federal government deems detrimental, like gasoline. When the federal government gets its own house in order then I am ready to move to eliminating these exemptions.

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gwbuddyNov. 28, 12 3:38 PM

I'm amazed at how much FREE stuff churches and Religious Professionals can get. Even if they're just Self-Proclaimed zealots. NO Angelic visit, Confirmed calling from God, Demonstrated heart for the Poor, Needy, and Unfortunate, etc. is required. All that's needed is an IRS categorization of: Non-Profit, Church, Pastor, Religious Interest Group, etc. I say tax them ALL and make things Fairer for everyone. We ALL should pay for the costs of: Driving, Eating, Keeping the lights on, Living Quarters, etc. One of the Major reasons that the Federal Government is in so much debt is that there are just so many: Churches, Religious Professionals, etc. that are living off the rest of us and paying NO taxes. Sounds pretty Unfair to me.

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cncodyNov. 28, 12 4:01 PM

I support this fully, but it will be a cold day in you know where before it happens. The Democrats sure can't initiate it since they are already seen as being the "athiest" party (see comment #1) and the Republicans sure aren't going to because that's their voting base. Right now the Supreme Court has four or five far right wing nut cases on it, so forget them. Scientology in particular is a joke and exists only as a way to make huge sums of money. The other denominations aren't far behind. About the comment concerning religious-based institutions being forced to provide "things that are against their religious beliefs"--how about if your boss is a Christian Scientist who doesn't believe in any medical care at all, how about if he is a Muslim who forbids all employees from eating pork, how about if he is Amish and tells you not to drive a car to work???? It gets kind of weird doesn't it?

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gandalf48Nov. 28, 12 4:24 PM

Let's get rid of all these special groups tax exempt status...I honestly don't care if you start a business to make money, start a charity to help people (yet the CEO still pulls in millions each year), start a political group to push policy or start a church to push your religious viewpoint upon others...you should be paying taxes like every other organization.

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oscarfallsNov. 28, 12 4:27 PM

I am a pastor with the Universal Church of Life with an Associate's Degree from the Church of Dude. My place of worship is a lakeside abode, completely tax free. Each Sunday my congregation flocks to our sanctuary and we discuss moral rights and wrongs while pigskins are tossed in the background. No taxes on my church, no taxes on the donations received. Life is good.

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OlsonjonsNov. 28, 12 4:32 PM

The problem with the author's position, and the statute itself, is that political speach, even divisive, is that it constitutionally protected. Revoking tax exempt status, based on a religious organization's exercise of another constitutional right, is simply retaliation for the exercise of that right, should raise all sorts of constitutional red flags. We can eliminate the exemption for all religious organizations, but to pick and choose based on whether an organization is saying things the author disapproves of would violate the 1st Amendment.

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scottyhomerNov. 28, 12 4:35 PM

After seeing all of the political stuff coming out of religious organizations this last year, I'm all for going back to removing their tax exemptions. For the past 60 odd years they have been using government services, but no paying for them. As part of the overall tax review, it should be a serious option to remove the tax exemption for religious organizations. Because determining if someone is being political or not is subjective, that option shouldn't even be on the table. All or none, as far as the exemption goes.

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bethmdNov. 28, 12 4:44 PM

I don't get the impression the author is againist churches stating a position as much as stating a position that she disagrees with. The only examples sited are anti gay marriage or anti democrat while there were plenty of pro-gay marriage/democrat religous groups that stated an opinion. Meanwhile, any political activity a church is involved with pales in comparison to the amount of charity work done by local parishes - which goes unnoticed. The Stib had an editorial about how a church on the east coast became a gathering place for the affected post Sandy. Her analysis is to one sided to recieve consideration.

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ranger78Nov. 28, 12 4:50 PM

If you include churches and/or religious entities that someone determines are being political, than you must include every non-profit that is "political" as well. There are multiple non-profits that are far more politcal than the majority of churches. Equal treatment must be applied.

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bethmdNov. 28, 12 4:54 PM

BTW, the author has a show on PBS. I believe we should cut funding to PBS if employees continue to make political statements. I am fine with Nova, Sesame Street, etc, but commentary's like this are (in my opinion) devisive. American tax payers could recognize billions in cutting off PBS. Or maybe we should cut some shows not others on PBS if they agree with me - sound familar Bonnie Erbe.

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