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View Diary: “Catholic Church revving up its ‘beat-down the Democratic vote’ operations” WITH GOV'T FUNDS (96 comments)

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  •  So the only churches you want to survive... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcj98, rmabelis, VClib, erush1345

    ...are churches that cater to and attract the wealthy, and are located far enough away from major urban areas that their property values won't be very high.

    Because most urban churches—which you might also know by another name, that being "one of the Democratic Party's most loyal constituencies"—sit on pretty valuable land and serve people who aren't particularly well-to-do, meaning that if property taxes were assessed, they'd have to close their doors and sell their buildings (and in all likelihood be replaced by something that does the neighborhood a whole lot less good).

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 09:59:05 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Ask Jesus (0+ / 0-)

      how he felt about the survival of churches.  I'll bet he didn't believe it took comfy piles of money.

      YMMV.

      •  "Comfy piles" of money? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lcj98, VClib, erush1345, Magenta

        You obviously haven't been to one of my church's vestry meetings, if you think we're sitting on "comfy piles" of money.

        If we had to pay property taxes on the value of our land, which is in an up-and-coming neighborhood in NW DC, we'd have to dramatically scale back what we do if not shut down entirely.

        And for the record... Jesus's disciples did have a communal purse, a practice Jesus doesn't breathe even a word of objection to in the Gospels. And the first generation of apostles after the Ascension in Acts set up an entire group of leaders whose whole task was administering the community's work. So it's not like Jesus opposes the idea of the body of believers having some kind of community property.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:07:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm unaware of Jesus's (0+ / 0-)

          tax exemptions with the Roman authorities.  Actually, I don't think Jesus had any status with the authorities.  I don't recall a passage in the NT where he complained about that.

          •  There's really no equivalence... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lcj98, VClib, erush1345

            ...between the taxes levied by the Romans occupying Judea in the first century CE, and contemporary structures of taxation.

            And you still haven't addressed my original point, which was that if religious organizations had to pay property tax, it would be the ones that serve the poor, and the ones in urban areas, that would be the first to close their doors—and the rural/suburban/exurban churches that cater to the wealthy (i.e., the ones that are much of the problem) would be the ones that would remain open.

            Even if one accepts on a policy level that this is a good idea—though I can scarcely imagine how it would make my neighborhood better if my church, which serves the poor and homeless, operates as a center for numerous community events, and advocates for economic justice, were replaced by another Yuppie Condoplex—the fact remains that you're basically telling a significant chunk of the most loyal base of the Democratic Party to go f### themselves. That would be a one-way ticket to political irrelevance.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:20:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't see why it's government's business (0+ / 0-)

              to establish policies that facilitate churches.  And as I've said before, if the churches in question really do carry out charitable activities, I'm perfectly fine with tax-exempting the activities if they're firewalled fiscally and administratively from the sponsoring churches.

              Oh, and there are plenty of poor churches whose members (and administrations) are quite right-wing, so I reject your implication that I'm doing this to trash Democrats.

              •  I'm not implying that you're proposing this... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, erush1345, Magenta

                ...with the intent of trashing Democrats.

                I'm telling you that the policy you propose, even if it were a good idea on every other level (which it isn't), would have the effect of harming one of the Democratic Party's most loyal constituencies, and would be seen as a slap in the face to religious Americans by many Christian Democrats, myself included.

                Mark my words: If your position ever became the position of the Democratic Party, the Party would be politically irrelevant within days. I know that I personally would never vote for anyone who supports your position.

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:29:46 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  heh. (0+ / 0-)
                  Mark my words: If your position ever became the position of the Democratic Party,
                  Rest assured it never will.  I do remain firm in my contention that religion does a hell of a lot more harm than good, and that government shouldn't be supporting it.
                •  I don't think you understand my position at all (0+ / 0-)

                  1) Eliminate the Faith-based and Neighborhood Coalition and return to the policies of the Clinton administration
                  2) Require all corporations, including the Rove and Koch SuperPACs to make full financial disclosure.
                  If any non-profit or religion wants to accept the civil benefits afforded to corporations, then they assume the civil duties of a corporation. If any non-profit or religion doesn't want the protections of a civil corporation, then they shouldn't incorporate.

                •  I agree. (0+ / 0-)

                  Completely politically untenable.

                  www.stacysmusings.wordpress.com

                  by Magenta on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 06:15:00 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  These aren't policies that facilitate churches. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, erush1345

                These are policies that facilitate nonprofit organizations.  

                To come under those policies, churches have to meet the same IRS standards for nonprofit organizations as anyone else.  Lots of nonprofits are organized to promote particular views -- the ACLU, the Sierra Club, the Human Rights Campaign come to mind.  The Government cannot (because of the First Amendment) treat a particular nonprofit organization that meets 501(c)(3) requirements differently because the views it promotes are religious ones, I think.

                •  Government could always redefine (0+ / 0-)

                  what constitutes a nonprofit organization, a matter that was of course no concern to the Founding Fathers; and such a redefinition would no doubt pass constitutional muster as long as it treated all religions equally.

                  But as I just responded to someone else: Rest assured that the cushy treatment afforded organized religion by the federal government will never change, so relax.

                  Oh, and as I've already posted to you elsewhere: Down with the HRC. :-)

                  •  I think it would be constitutionally (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VClib, erush1345, cany

                    problematic for Congress to pass a law saying that any organization that was affiliated with a religious institution could not get 501(c)(3) status.  That's a pretty clear First Amendment, and 14th Amendment problem.  Government can't assign negative consequences based on the religious beliefs of a group.  I cannot imagine that rewriting 501(c)(3) to say it applies to any group that meets the legal requirements  EXCEPT for groups that have a religious affiliation would possible pass constitutional muster.  

                    That would be like saying that you can't be a 501(C)(3) group if you are a primarily Asian group, or if you are a primarily female group.  Religious rights are just as constitutionally protected.  Government cannot give you less favorable tax treatment based on your race, ethnicity, gender, or religious beliefs, I would think.  

                    •  You just don't read my comments (0+ / 0-)

                      before posting, do you?  Just do a "find" search on the word "firewall" in my comments on this thread.

                      •  I think your comment is quite clear. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        erush1345

                        You're suggesting that the operations of religious organizations that aren't specifically "charitable" in nature should not be tax-exempt. However, you have not called for any change in the tax status of other nonprofit organizations based on common interests (like, say, the local Astronomical Society).

                        That's functionally calling for government to discriminate against religion, by granting tax exemptions to nonreligious nonprofit affinity or interest groups while taxing nonprofit affinity or interest groups simply because they have religious ties.

                        That would be a pretty clear violation of the First Amendment.

                        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                        by JamesGG on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:41:29 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  nope (0+ / 0-)

                          "while taxing nonprofit affinity or interest groups simply because they have religious ties."

                          Not for having religious ties, but for being religions.

                          And "discriminating against religion" is hardly unconstitutional if one discriminates against all of them equally.  Furthermore, denial of a privilege is not "discrimination."

                          •  Calling discrimination something else... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Magenta, VClib

                            ...makes it no less discrimination. In this case, your proposal appears to be based not on any sound legal principle, but rather on your own animus toward religion.

                            Not for having religious ties, but for being religions.
                            Here's your first challenge: Provide an operative definition of how we could determine what organizations qualify as "religions."
                            And "discriminating against religion" is hardly unconstitutional if one discriminates against all of them equally.
                            Sure it is... it would, in effect, be an establishment of "no religion" as a state religion, in that nonreligious nonprofit interest or affinity organizations would enjoy a tax break while religious organizations (which are nonprofit interest or affinity organizations whose interest or affinity is religion) would not.
                            Furthermore, denial of a privilege is not "discrimination."
                            So you wouldn't think it was "discrimination" if a state decided that they were only going to issue drivers' licenses to men? After all, a drivers' license is a privilege, not a right, as the drivers' ed instructors remind us so often; denying women that privilege, by your own reckoning, would not be an act of "discrimination."

                            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                            by JamesGG on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:11:17 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Your last comparison is ludicrous; (0+ / 0-)

                            if you can't obtain a driver license, you can't legally drive.  But you can operate a church even if you don't have a tax exemption.  

                            As for the "establishment" of "no religion" as a state religion on the basis of not granting tax exemptions, well, that's funny.  As in chuckle-provoking.  Would nonbelievers be getting tax exemptions for being nonbelievers?

                          •  Okay, let's try another example then. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib
                            if you can't obtain a driver license, you can't legally drive.
                            Since you see a tax exemption as a "privilege" whose granting is inherently unable to be an act of discrimination, would you call it "discrimination" if the federal government decided tomorrow that all men would get a $2,000 tax credit, but no woman would get it? I know I sure would.
                            Would nonbelievers be getting tax exemptions for being nonbelievers?
                            Functionally, yes. Irreligious organizations would get tax exemptions for not talking about religion or professing any religious beliefs. Making religious discussion off-limits for nonprofit organizations that want to remain tax-exempt is, in effect, codifying discrimination against religion.

                            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                            by JamesGG on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 05:58:16 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  Even when "fire-walled", charity still creates (0+ / 0-)

                good will towards a specific religion. As a Vatican official just told a meeting of Catholic Charities USA, "The pastoral priorities of the New Evangelization (i.e. proselytization)should also be taken up by our (charitable) organizations, since they are organizations of the Church." http://www.catholicculture.org/...

            •  I agree that all religious groups should not be (0+ / 0-)

              penalized for the abuses of some. That's why I'm suggesting the all corporations, including non-profits and religious, be required to make full financial disclosures.

            •  So many of those churches are already closing. (0+ / 0-)

              You're quite right. It would be a deadly blow if in addition they had to pay taxes. And it would be a loss in many communities.

              People seem to think churches are all the megachurches that do sit on comfy piles of money. That's not even true of most Roman Catholic congregations, though.

              Actually, I'm honestly amazed that Romney would mention bringing up an end to the deduction for charitable donations. That also would be devastating to churches along with many other organizations. Surely, the right-wing can't favor that idea. I work for a church, and believe me, the pattern of giving is certainly influenced by the fact Christmas falls in December, but that sure isn't the only reason donations increase that month. It's also that end-of-year deadline to get the deduction.

              www.stacysmusings.wordpress.com

              by Magenta on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 06:13:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  How do you know how much "comfy piles" of (0+ / 0-)

          money the Catholic bishops are sitting on? See http://www.dailykos.com/... my diary about the immeasurable wealth of the Catholic Church

          •  I don't know how much money they have. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345

            But I do know how much money my church (which isn't Roman Catholic) has—and it's not nearly enough to cover what would be a massive property tax bill if we had to pay it.

            Don't assume that all churches are in the same financial situation as the Roman Catholic Church, and don't punish other churches for the actions of the Roman Catholic Church.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:23:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not assuming anything and I have specifically (0+ / 0-)

              said that eliminating tax exemptions would punish all religions for the abuses of some. That is why I am suggesting only full financial disclosure for all corporations including non-profits and religious.

    •  I want all churches to rely on voluntary donations (0+ / 0-)

      not taxpayer dollars.

      •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

        The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

        by lcj98 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:26:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Because under the separation of church and state (0+ / 0-)

          government funds should not be given to religions. Even if used for charity, that charity creates good will and gratitude of the recipients and others who know about it towards a specific religion.

          •  Umm... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            The government isn't giving money to "religions".  It's given to groups/charities that are religiously based.  And those groups provide a vital service in areas where voluntary donations isn't going to cut it.  The these groups get aren't for proselytizing or recruitment...

            The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

            by lcj98 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:29:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The gov't itself provides services for the poor. (0+ / 0-)

              If inadequate, they should be expanded to provide a suitable "safety net". The gov't can care for the poor without regard to gender and sexual orientation or whatever criteria used by certain religions to deem some human beings more worthy than others.

              A Vatican official just gave a speech at a meeting of Catholic Charities USA. He said, "The pastoral priorities of the New Evangelization (i.e. proselytization) should also be taken up by our [charitable] organizations, since they are organizations of the Church." http://www.catholicculture.org/...

              Even without blatant proselytization, charity creates good will and gratitude towards the religion.

    •  Eventually (0+ / 0-)

      we will have to take tax exemption away from the Catholic church. It is either that or give tax exemption to the klan, the nazis and Christian identity. It is clear bigotry against gays will some day be considered as vile as that against blacks. And when we find the Catholic church will still not change its mind on its rejection of gays its tax exemption will be in great danger. At that point it will be politically necessary to take tax exemptions away from all religious organizations, alas.

      •  ??? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        The Catholic Church is the same as the Klan and Nazis?  Seriously?

        The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

        by lcj98 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:36:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gay rights as civil rights. (0+ / 0-)

          If you are going to see the gay civil rights issue as the 21st century equivalent of the black civil rights struggle of the 20th century then it is easy to see how the Catholic church can be equated with the Klan and Christian identity. The Klan is bigoted against black people, the Catholic church is bigoted against gay people. At this point the question is when will the gay rights movement realize not everyone who opposes gay rights is a bigot?

      •  If the Klan and Nazis incorporate as a 501(c) (0+ / 0-)

        they already receive certain exemptions.

      •  rmabelis - the Catholic Church has every legal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erush1345

        and constitutional right to oppose same sex marriage, to them it is an issue of faith and morals. The IRS has given churches wide latitude to be active in public policy and political issues, particularly when it involves issues of faith. The IRS has also given the churches a safe harbor of 20% of their budget as the amount they can spend on political activity. However, they cannot endorse candidates by name.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:45:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, the Catholic Church as every legal and (0+ / 0-)

          constitutional right to oppose same sex marriage. But it is NOT an issue of faith and morals. It is a carefully selected issue meant to GOTV for Republicans. If the Religious Right really cared about the "sanctity of marriage" and "threats" to marriage, they would concentrate their efforts on changing the divorce laws since Jesus expressly forbade divorce.

        •  Of course they do (0+ / 0-)

          But if you believe bigotry is the only reason for opposing gay rights you are not going to be willing to give them this right.

          •  Politics, not bigotry, is the reason the bishops (0+ / 0-)

            oppose gay rights. How could it be bigotry on their part when estimates of homosexual priests range from 10-40% of the total number?

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