Political Religion: Tax Exempt Status

From: Proposition 8 and Religion in California - ToTheCenter:

Currently, in California, Propositon 8 is on the ballot to define marriage as being solely between a man and woman. While I am not surprised at this movement, what does sound alarm bells for me has to do with churches. Today, my mother went to a meeting held on church grounds, but not inside the building structure itself, where they discussed Proposition 8 and their opposition to gay marriage. They patted themselves on the back for their ingenuity and prowess in holding the meeting, yet in my view, the meeting was still held on church property, which violates my sense of right and wrong, as defined by the U.S. Constitution, which recognizes a separation between Church and State.

The meeting was held statewide, from my understanding, at LDS (Mormon) churches today. I only learned of the meeting because my mother, who is Mormon, attended today. Matters of government should be and have been, up to this juncture, separate from religious tenets.

Ironically, it is this separation that allows churches their tax-exempt status from paying any taxes.

I'm not sure that they would violate anything if they held the meeting inside the church. After all, churches are allowed to be involved in civil politics and have a long history involvement in civil activist movements. Churches have long been used for political rally points. First in support of slavery, and then in the fight for civil rights during the sixties.

I've yet to see a church lose tax-exempt status simply because of its stance on forced pregnancy. One church (connected to Randall Terry) lost its status because it took out a full page ad in a local paper and endorsed one candidate over another. The ad highlighted the candidate's stance on forced pregnancy and gay rights. Of course, they whined that it was because of their stance, but that wasn't the reason. It was because they named names in a full page ad in the newspaper under the banner of a church. They were pushing the boundaries of the law and they knew it. If they'd taken out the ad under the group's name (Operation Rescue), they would have been fine. But, they did it as a church and as a church group.

Currently, most churches are very careful to only kick dust on the line that they must walk and keep their tax-exempt status. The distributed voter's guides don't set a voting preference for the flock. They merely outline all of the candidate's position on key issues. Using weasel words, of course - I don't fault them for this. Every active group does this.

But every active political group does not enjoy tax-exempt status. IMO, the way to solve this conflict is to take away the tax exempt status of every single church. Let the facade end completely for all churches.

I'm curious to see how well they do without it.

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Tags: political-evangelizing, politics

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