Alex Blaze

Praise the Almighty Dollar!

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 12, 2008 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics
Tags: Alliance Defense Fund, Arizona, religion

The Alliance Defense Fund (homophobic lawyers) is looking for pastors to break federal tax law this year:

The Alliance Defense Fund, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., will ask the clergy to deliver a sermon about specific candidates Sept. 28. If the action triggers an IRS investigation, the legal group will sue to overturn the federal rules, which were enacted in 1954.

I doubt they win even if they actually go through with it. Something tells me that getting people together each week and telling them to go vote mostly for Republicans is something that'll stay taxable.

The ADF goes on to lie:

The Alliance Defense Fund said Friday that the regulations amount to an unconstitutional limit on free speech and government intrusion into religion.

"It certainly does have a chilling effect," said Mike Johnson, senior counsel for the fund. "I think that there is a lot of fear and intimidation and disinformation about the parameters that do exist."

How this is a freedom of speech issue I can't even begin to imagine. These pastors can say whatever they want; they just lose their tax exempt status if they do. If they actually feel that it's necessary to support a candidate as part of their spirituality, they can just forgo their tax-exempt status.

Which comes first, money or spirituality?

Personally, I'd be in favor of doing away with church's tax exempt status entirely except for the actual charity work that they do (and converting people doesn't count). But that's an entirely different question here.

Of course, that's assuming that they actually think that supporting a candidate on Sunday morning is necessary for the spiritual growth of their church-goers. Something tells me that they don't, that they just think getting rid of the IRS's requirements would encourage more pastors to support (mostly) Republican candidates, helping to mobilize their base.

Fortunately, there are sane voices in this discussion:

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, "This is a truly deplorable scheme. Federal tax law rightly requires churches and other tax-exempt groups to use their resources for religious and charitable purposes, not partisan politics. When the faithful put their hard-earned dollars in the collection plate, they don't expect it to wind up pushing some politician's campaign.

"The Religious Right leaders who lust for political power in America will apparently stop at nothing, not even the sacred character of the church," Lynn continued. "The vast majority of clergy do not seek to turn their incense-filled sanctuaries into smoke-filled political backrooms.

If a large part of the Republican base (conservative Christian churches) gets tax-exempt status free of the basic requirements that go with it, then a big part of the Democratic base, like the queers, also should. It seems only fair.

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If they want the government to stay out of the church, then the church needs to stay out of government. That's the deal. Seems pretty simple to me, but then again, I'm not a fundie.

I hope the ADF is consulting Wesley Snipes on this issue.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 12, 2008 11:19 PM

I would love to see all churches, faiths and church schools pay their fair share of property taxes etc. In that manner there would be no conflict (in my mind)between freedom of religious observance and individual right of free speech. I would love to see the TV evangelists get taxed.

But who is going to go to Muncie, Evansville, Albion, Auburn, Morocco, Warsaw, Plymouth and Hebron simultaneously to listen to whether the local preacher has an opinion about the county dog warden?

I am particularly struck by the good sense of Rev Lynn. I immediately thought of a comparison between the teamsters union and the individual worker who has little voice in which pol gets support. They are just there to collect your dues.

I don't see many churches willing to jeopardize their tax status

karen in kalifornai | May 13, 2008 1:34 PM

What gets me is that ADF is promoting this church "revolt" to break the IRS tax exempt law the WEEK BEFORE the November Election....that's right. Pastors will get up the week before the presidental election and name their candidate.