Saturday, May 10, 2008

First Amendment for All, Including Churches

This should be interesting, and a slam-dunk.

Christian pastors should stop censoring themselves in fear of an "unconstitutional" 1954 provision in the IRS code that has threatened to eliminate their church tax-exempt status if they speak out against positions held by political candidates, urges a leading legal alliance.

The Alliance Defense Fund today announced a new initiative that will challenge the IRS ban on political comment from churches and their pastors.

...Before 1954, churches freely evaluated the politicians of the day on moral issues without fear of retribution.

That year, Democratic Sen. Lyndon Johnson amended the tax code to add the threat of IRS action against churches if their pastors mentioned the positions of specific candidates from the pulpit, the ADF said.

...the prosecution of such limits has been based on religion, because the same restrictions do not apply to other tax-exempt groups, including civil leagues; labor, agricultural, or horticultural associations; business leagues; chambers of commerce; real estate boards; boards of trade; and other groups

It's about time churches regained the right held by the AFSCME and WMC, no?


Jeff Miller said...

It is about time they challenged this crap, especially to eliminate the double standard where liberal churches could do this all they wanted with no threat from the IRS.

Remember the IRS fine against Rev. Wright? Oh wait that didn't happen.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

It's insane that churches are tax exempt. What does any of this have to do with the First Amendment? If churches want to say what they want, they just have to start paying taxes like the rest of us. The First Amendment is not what currently allows churches to skip out on paying taxes.

Dad29 said...

Non-profits do not pay income taxes, JJetc. Never have. Red Cross doesn't, the Dog Pound doesn't--they're non-profit.

Gehr ste'he?

You're right. The 1A has nothing to do with that.

But the 1A forbids the Gummint from interfering with speech--whether religious or not.

That's the substance of the discussion here.

Dan said...

Well, then let's not exempt anyone including Planned ParentHood, enviromental groups, political parties and everyone else.

Al said...

I can see a lot of Catholic pastors hoping this fails. If the courts rule that political speech can't lose their non (not for)profit status if they take a political position. This will take away their cover for not talking about abortion.

Anyhow. Fr. Corapi has the right idea. he has refused non-profit status to keep the government from telling him what he can or can't say.

Dad29 said...

Dan, that's not going to happen.

Al, you're right. Their fig-leaf will be gone.

jaybullock said...

How does revoking a tax exemption "interfere" with the exercise of free speech?

And unions do not enjoy the tax-exempt status that churches do.

Dad29 said...

Of course, it does not "interfere" with exercise of speech--but it certainly changes the terms and conditions.

You could ask the LeftyHero LBJ, why he created this problem. Prior to LBJ's scheming, churches were tax-exempt AND could endorse candidates.

Of course, we all know the answer. LBJ didn't need people with actual morals to be talking about him.

And Jay, are you telling me that WEAC pays income taxes? Just like a for-profit?

jaybullock said...

Unions pay taxes on the dues dedicated to political uses (and if they re-purpose other dues, they must report it and pay taxes on it), and they do not enjoy exemptions on things like property that religious organizations take for granted.

Of course, it does not "interfere" with exercise of speech--but it certainly changes the terms and conditions.
So what you're saying is that an organization that wants to stand apart from society--by not paying the taxes that support the infrastructure that makes its existence possible--should be free to try to influence that society? Seems a bit double-standard-y to me.

Dad29 said...

As to union-taxation, that's what I thought. They are exempt except for certain categories of income.

Umnn.....those organizations which do not pay taxes are exempt because they are NON-PROFIT, not because of their stances or beliefs or policies.

Remember, the exemption applies to ALL non-profits, albeit not all non-profits are churches.

jaybullock said...

And there are plenty of NON-PROFITS that engage in political speech--and pay taxes on the funds used for that political speech. In fact, that describes pretty much every NON-PROFIT everywhere--unions, Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin Right to Life, AARP--except for churches.

I don't see how asking churches to follow the same rules as everyone else interferes with either the free exercise of religion or the churches' free speech rights.

Dad29 said...

Yah, Jay...

But there's a difference.

WEAC and Planned Parenthood are politically active for their own benefit (more money for educationists and abortionists.)

Churches are NOT, or should not be.

The Catholic Church, were it to be "politically active" would specifically condemn the abortion stance of such critters as....oh....ALL the Democrat Party pols.

But that doesn't put money into the pockets of the Church, nor her own memebership.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Wait, wait, wait, are you saying that a Church taking a pro-life stance isn't acting for it's own benefit? The The WEAC would take a position that, in there eyes, helps society (I think they're wrong most of the time, but that's not the point). Planned parenthood does the same. The Catholic church (also wrong most of the time) would do the same as well.

Also, the Catholic church is SUPER profitable. Have you ever been in a Catholic curch? There's gold and stuff everywhere.

And where did you get the ridiculous idea that Catholicism has any connection with morality?