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A story in today's Washington Post reports how the Religious Right is challenging the ban on churches from endorsing politicians.

Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.

The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

I think that they've been abusing the rights they have.

There are two different kinds of morality: ethical and dogmatic. Ethics have a philosophical underpinning and they can be debated. Dogma can only be accepted on faith or ultimately rejected as blasphemy.

Imagine that the IRS rules stated that churches and similar tax-exempts were forbidden to advocate imposing any dogma on nonbelievers, or lying to get people to think a dogma being advocated is ethical. That means that the Catholic Church would be allowed to say that you can't get an abortion and be a good Catholic; but they'd lose their tax exemption if they said that you can't be a good Catholic and allow Protestants and Jews to get abortions.

Apart from the problem of getting THAT through Congress, there are two problems: drawing the line is not as easy as I made it sound; and it would require not only that the issue being addressed be ethical (or nonpolitical), it would require that every advocate for the stance must make the disticntion clear, which would call for more erudition than many clerics have.

The church has long had an expertise on ethics. I would not condemn them for their efforts against slavery or eugenics. However, they do have a place of trust that many parishioners don't question even when they doubt the pastor's right. We've seen people like Cardinal Maeda of Detroit saying that marriage has been one man and one woman for 3000 years--as though polygamy has never had official sanction. Repealing the ban on endorsements from the pulpit would bring back the corruption and hypocrisy that made the Founding Fathers oppose the establishment of religion.

Originally posted to Judge Moonbox on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:13 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Glad to tip (8+ / 0-)

      Not enough attention is being given to this.

      The religious right is sensing victory in their 40 year quest to turn the US into a militant theocracy.

      See troutfishing's diaries or view the trailer from "Jesus Camp", co-believers of Palin's. It's no coincidence that folks who "pledge allegiance to the christian flag" would be married to someone who's a member of the Alaska Independence (through secession) Party.

      Also see "Sarah Palin's Demon Haunted Churches - The Complete Edition"

      And never forget that the religious right is rooted in racism.

      "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

      by Timbuk3 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:21:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Confederate Constitution. (6+ / 0-)

        And never forget that the religious right is rooted in racism.

        This makes me think that the writers of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America were proud of themselves for including God in their Constitution whereas the US one omitted any reference. They were also more forthright in acknowledging Slavery.

        Proud Citizen of Barackopolis.

        by Judge Moonbox on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:24:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Have you ever looked at kkk.com? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SarahLee, boji, Judge Moonbox

          They're "christian", too.

          Not to diary pimp, but there are lots of links here (and it's too late to recommend it, anyway.)

          In Green v. Connally, 330 F.Supp. 1150 (D.D.C.) aff'd sub nom. Coit v. Green, 404 U.S. 997 (1971), the court declared that neither IRC 501(c)(3) nor IRC 170 provided for tax-exempt status or deductible contributions to any organization operating a private school that discriminates in admissions on the basis of race.

          That's when the religious right first got pissed off at our judicial system.

          "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

          by Timbuk3 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:29:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No, I think they are sensing DEFEAT (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Timbuk3, Judge Moonbox
        or fearing it anyway, and that is why they have become increasingly brazen and desperate to the point where these churches plan to deliberately taunt to the URS to challenge their tax-exempt status if they openly endorse candidates.

        I would not be surprised to see some of the biggest and most powerful churches such as Rod Parsley's Columbus, Ohio-based World Harvest Church pass on this particular campaign because their money means more to them than anything.

        We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

        by anastasia p on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:55:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Total political ploy (8+ / 0-)

    They can fight, legally they'll lose but it's all about providing an excuse so they can claim the government hates religion....

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:19:29 PM PDT

    •  Because it is an enlightened document... (14+ / 0-)

      ..built for a tolerant society...

    •  Because the Constitution is what stands (10+ / 0-)

      between them and the hell on earth, excuse me-the theocracy-they wish to establish.

      The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

      by beltane on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:23:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How are destroying the Constitution? n/t (0+ / 0-)

      I don't believe in coming in second.

      by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:28:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "they" n/t (0+ / 0-)

        I don't believe in coming in second.

        by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:29:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Lot's of examples (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dogemperor, marykk, drmah

        "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

        by Timbuk3 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:30:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's certainly not the issue here. (0+ / 0-)

          I thought you meant they were destroying the Constitution based on the action reported in this diary.

          I don't believe in coming in second.

          by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:32:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then I either didn't understand your question (4+ / 0-)

            or I didn't understand the post your replied to.

            Anything, and I mean anything that diminishes the constitutional mandate to keep religion and government separate is a danger to both our government and to religion itself.

            Are you disputing this?

            Or are you wondering how granting tax-exemption to political organizations under "freedom of religion" guidance could be unconstitutional?

            "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

            by Timbuk3 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:36:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is no "constitutional mandate to keep (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              drmah

              religion and government separate".

              The first amendment says:

              Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

              That does not prohibit religious institutions from influencing the government nor does it mandate censorship in the pulpit regarding partisan political issues.

              I don't believe in coming in second.

              by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:39:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  They can preach all they want. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                vacantlook, marykk, Judge Moonbox

                But if we're going to be so kind as to grace them with tax-exempt status, they can't be political. Period. End of story.

                (It's actually not a rule about churches at all, it's about political organizations. You preach for McCain, you're a political organization.)

                Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                by Jyrinx on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:50:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  So the "free exercise" clause (0+ / 0-)

                  is "just words"??

                  Some people, including apparently some of those mentioned in this diary, would say that government imposition of taxes on religious institutions is both a "law respecting an establishment of religion" and potentially an attempt to "prohibit the free exercise thereof".

                  I would not deign to travel with those folks, but I think it would be good for progressives to better equip themselves with the actual wording of the Constitution, rather than spout specious arguments about "separation of church and state".

                  There is a real question here, that cannot be easily shouted down with a "censorship or taxes" argument.

                  I don't believe in coming in second.

                  by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:55:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  ??? (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Timbuk3, vacantlook, marykk, Judge Moonbox

                    How does it violate the Establishment Clause to insist that no tax-exempt organizations endorse candidates, period?

                    Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                    Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                    by Jyrinx on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:56:56 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Because "Congress shall make no law (0+ / 0-)

                      repecting an establishment of religion" could actually mean "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".  

                      If some religious institutions are censored and others are taxed based on law, then congress could well be said to be making laws "respecting an establishment of religion".

                      I don't believe in coming in second.

                      by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:03:06 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  IT'S NOT ABOUT RELIGION. (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Timbuk3, vacantlook, marykk, Judge Moonbox

                        It's about political organization. A group - ANY GROUP - that endorses a candidate has to pay taxes. If churches were exempt, THAT would violate the Establishment Clause.

                        Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                        Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                        by Jyrinx on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:05:14 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  And the clause doesn't say (5+ / 0-)

                        "Congress shall make no law which may affect an establishment of religion." By your logic, churches shouldn't have to obey zoning regulations either.

                        Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                        Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                        by Jyrinx on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:06:50 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Zoning laws provide for an obvious (0+ / 0-)

                          public purpose and can be accepted in a similar manner as yelling "fire" in a crowded theater is accepted in limiting free speech.

                          Taxes and censorship of political speech, however, could play a much more significant role in favoring one religion over another or keeping a group of people from practicing their religion.

                          I don't believe in coming in second.

                          by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:21:23 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  And zoning laws can't? n/t (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Timbuk3, marykk

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:30:23 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  As I said, when there are clear competing (0+ / 0-)

                            public interests--being free to yell "fire" in a crowded theater versus the potential loss of life from a stampede--some limitations/modifications may be necessary.

                            There are some religious institutions that have attempted to go around zoning laws by using the Religious Freedom Act. Most cases I've seen have not been such that they would significantly impede the institution's ability to practice.

                            I don't believe in coming in second.

                            by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:40:35 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Where do you find Jefferson... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Timbuk3, marykk, Jyrinx

                    ...in the country's family tree?

                    I think it would be good for progressives to better equip themselves with the actual wording of the Constitution, rather than spout specious arguments about "separation of church and state".

                    This argument bugs me. You seem to be saying that because Jefferson didn't get that exact wording into the First Amendment, we should make a game of the establishment clause, see how far people can go in breaking the spirit of the law without violating the letter of it.

                    What we need to do on this issue is to set forth the conditions they faced before the churches were disestablished and see what problems they aspired to solve that we take for granted.

                    Proud Citizen of Barackopolis.

                    by Judge Moonbox on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:02:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't consider it a game. (0+ / 0-)

                      It seems clear to me that the "wall" was clearly meant to keep government from imposing its will on religious institutions.  But, in keeping with the other enumerated rights, these limits are imposed only on the government, while citizens and their institutions, including religious institutions, the press, and others that may be developed through the freedom of assembly, are clearly given the freedom and right to influence and impact the government.

                      I don't believe in coming in second.

                      by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:11:02 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What documentary evidence do you have? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Timbuk3, marykk

                        But, in keeping with the other enumerated rights, these limits are imposed only on the government, while citizens and their institutions, including religious institutions,(snip)
                        are clearly given the freedom and right to influence and impact the government.

                        They do have a right to preach on ethical issues. They are allowed to preach dogma, and most partisan uses thereof are not punished.

                        We do need to draw a line to keep the Constitution from becoming a dead letter; and your advocacy would allow the partisan churches to manipulate their followers to commit gross violations of the intent of the Founders.

                        Proud Citizen of Barackopolis.

                        by Judge Moonbox on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:22:38 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

                          My evidence is the Bill of Rights.  Where does that list take away rights from citizens or their institutions?  Nowhere, it only limits the government.  Your argument seems to say that this clause of the first amendment is the only place in the Bill of Rights where the rights of citizens are limited in relationship to their government.

                          I don't believe in coming in second.

                          by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:27:54 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  It's a government imposition of taxes (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Timbuk3, marykk, Judge Moonbox

                    on political organizations. If a political organization happens also to be a church, it's still a political organization. And therefore it gets taxed.

                    Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                    Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                    by Jyrinx on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:03:59 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Ah, now I get it (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NonnyO, marykk, Judge Moonbox, Jyrinx

                You're a believer.

                That's OK, but you're wrong.

                It's not just that the establishment clause forbids religious tests for government officials.

                It's that tax-exempt is a privileged status.

                With privilege comes responsibility.

                One responsibility, and this is clear in not only the law and the internal revenue services rules but in the founder's "original intent", is that religion and law had to be kept separate.

                The "those words aren't in there" arguments don't fly. There's no "Air Force" in the constitution, but I don't see anyone calling for the disbanding of the Air Force.

                There is definitely a constitutional requirement that religion and government be kept separate. The colonists weren't going to put up with another King George, mandating religion to the people, nor would they tolerate one religion holding sway over the government they'd just created.

                It's also entirely predictable that, for example when government funds churches, expectations will develop. It won't be long before those churches receiving taxpayer dollars (a practice I believe is unconstitutional) will need to meet "requirements" that they will object to.

                I'd think that you, as a believer, would want the government kept out of your church, and your church kept out of our government, but that's not really the issue.

                When a church becomes a political organization, it no longer meets the tax-exempt definition of "church", now does it?

                "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

                by Timbuk3 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:56:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  More importantly, it *does* meet the tax-exempt (5+ / 0-)

                  definition of a PAC. (Or maybe a 527. Point is, it ain't tax-exempt no' mo'.)

                  Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                  Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                  by Jyrinx on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:02:38 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  If by "you're a believer" you mean (0+ / 0-)

                  that I subscribe to or believe in or am part of some religious institution, then no, you're wrong.

                  And since the rest of your comment seems to be based on that presumption, I won't bother to respond further.

                  I don't believe in coming in second.

                  by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:52:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Don't mean to be rude, (0+ / 0-)

                  but I don't make presumptions about you and I would appreciate the same respect.  But then, when there's nothing else to argue, sometimes...

                  I don't believe in coming in second.

                  by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:53:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Fine (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Judge Moonbox

                    No assumptions.

                    Respond to the "non-assumption based" questions.

                    For example, "When a church becomes a political organization, it no longer meets the tax-exempt definition of "church", now does it?"

                    BTW, don't confuse "individual" with "organization".

                    A pastor has every right, when speaking to his neighbor in his kitchen, to endorse a political candidate.

                    When speaking from the pulpit he is no longer an "individual", he is a representative of a tax-exempt organization that is subject to the rule of law.

                    "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

                    by Timbuk3 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:56:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I question whether the tax laws (0+ / 0-)

                      creating tax-exempt organizations--which basically bribe some organizations to censor political speech--are constitutional under the first amendment.

                      I don't believe in coming in second.

                      by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 08:01:15 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Assumptions... (0+ / 0-)

                        There are so many in that short post.

                        What is it about "tzx-exempt" that "bribes" some organizations to censor themselves?

                        If a church wants to be politically active, it can be, and it can retain it's tax-exempt status by registering as a different type of organization.

                        There is no censorship, there, if the question is "can they say what they want?"

                        The only way you can claim "censorship" is if you claim that the church must retain it's "right" to be politically active while still calling itself a "church".

                        The point being, it's by calling itself a "church" that it gains additional weight with some people. "God is telling you to vote for Bob."

                        Again, Pastor Joe is free to say that, in the privacy of his own kitchen, but when he says it from the pulpit HE IS SPEAKING FOR THE CHURCH.

                        It's a case of wanting to have it both ways. "We're a tax-exempt church, but we're involved in politics."

                        Someone else said it well, and you touched on it. The constitution guarantees me freedom FROM religion. Granting (special) tax-exempt status to churches is what's unconstitutional. If I don't share their beliefs, why should I be unfairly expected to make up their slack in the tax burden?

                        Your "the government is bribing the churches to stay quiet" with tax-exempt status is a specious argument.

                        If they paid taxes, there would be no "censorship".

                        It's the special treatment that's the problem.

                        "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

                        by Timbuk3 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 08:10:54 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Where, besides the tax law, (0+ / 0-)

                          is the basis for saying that religious institutions, as such, do not have a right to be politically active?  Is this in the constitution?

                          And why is it "specious" to consider that the government's imposition of taxes may serve to prohibit a group of people from exercising their religion?

                          Hypothetical: A group of people are Christians who consider part of Jesus' teaching to mandate that his followers do everything possible to ensure that poor people are cared for.  They live in a society where the primary agent for caring for the poor is the government.  To be effective in carrying out their mission, they need to influence government policies on care for the poor.  Part of this is to help elect leaders who will make care for the poor part of their platform.  They are all doing this on a volunteer basis and cannot afford to pay taxes and also carry out their mission.

                          What authority, other than current tax laws, does the government have to keep them from fulfilling their religious mandate, either through overwhelming them with taxes or censoring their political voice?

                          I don't believe in coming in second.

                          by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 08:23:50 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Special treatment = special responsibility (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Judge Moonbox

                            Taxes are constitutional, and congress has the power to decide who should pay them.

                            "Article 1. Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes"

                            Where, in the constitution, does it say that churches are exempt from paying them? Taxes are to be proportional to population.

                            "Section 9. No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken."

                            If it's not specified, tax-exemption for churches is a SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE allowed to them, and it's perfectly legal for the tax laws to reflect conditions on those special circumstances.

                            Besides, what is it about "tax law" that makes it "not a law"?

                            It is specious to declare that people are inhibited from practicing their religion by arguing that said religion must be politically active. All kinds of religious practices are banned in the US entirely. Been to any human sacrifices, lately? Political activity by churches is currently banned under the law, and it is clearly within the power of congress to pass such a law.

                            Again, a pastor is free to speak for himself, but when he's addressing a congregation from the pulpit he is speaking for the church. There is no "individual right" that's protected by the bill of rights, here.

                            I'd have to say the honus is on you and the churches to prove that congress can't control who it collects taxes from, and if you win it would appear that NO ONE can be tax exempt.

                            "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

                            by Timbuk3 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 08:47:56 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Umm. Okay. n/t (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Timbuk3

                            I don't believe in coming in second.

                            by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 09:09:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  Have you studied history? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Timbuk3, Judge Moonbox

                Specifically, the history of the countries where religions (first the Catholic church and then the various Protestant versions decreed by monarchs) was the supreme law of the land, the official government religion?  The monarchs forced people to belong to their version of religion whether people wanted to or not.

                Many of our pilgrim ancestors (mine included - I've done my genealogy research) left England to avoid having a government-mandated religion shoved down their throats.  Once some of these various groups got to America they practiced the same kind of intolerance they left England to avoid, demanding people belong to their religions.  Others, like the Quakers, avoided proselytization (to this day they don't proselytize).

                The Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution were closer to the actual events than we are and they knew what was, to them, recent history that involved wars fought for religious domination (not to mention things like torture in the name of religious belief, beheadings, and burning at the stake for heresy, etc. - read what happened during the five-year reign of Bloody Mary); they wrote the First Amendment the way they did to keep government from forcing a specific kind of religion down everyone's throat.  The First Amendment gives us freedom OF religion, but it also gives us freedom FROM religion, specifically a government-imposed religion, which is what the fundies want to start (thus they could abolish abortion, for one thing, even medically necessary abortions).

                Bush, with his executive order funding "faith-based initiatives" violated the First Amendment.  It gave fundies a foothold into government.  (Remember the lawyers from the religious colleges...?)

                Obama has proposed adopting and expanding Bush's "faith-based initiatives" and that would give the reichwingnuttia fundies more of a back door into government.  I hope he changes his mind about following in Bush's footsteps with funding religious initiatives.  (And let's face it: the ones with the megachurches could divert those funds away from giant mega-churches, McMansions, limosines, and jet planes for the ministers, and fund soup kitchens and other charity ventures.)

                If you haven't studied history, you probably do not grasp just how pernicious this religious fundamentalism really is.

                (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

                by NonnyO on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:39:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I apologize if I'm not up to your stature here. (0+ / 0-)

                  My reading shows that the constitution clearly prohibits the government from favoring/imposing a particular religion.  No problem; I agree; I have no desire for government-mandated religion.

                  Once again, however, the constitution doesn't prohibit religious institutions from influencing their government nor does it give government the right to censor political speech.

                  I don't believe in coming in second.

                  by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:48:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I don't see any way out of our own ethical (11+ / 0-)

    commitments, though.  Unitarian churches are full of raving liberals, almost 100%.  But we still won't see Unitarian ministers openly dictating specific candidates from the pulpit, because they deeply espouse the separation of church and state.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:21:42 PM PDT

    •  Not really - it is because they want to (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timbuk3, marykk, Judge Moonbox, Jyrinx

      maintain their tax exempt status.

      Like C3 Foundations - they cannot lobby or promote a politician or law and not pay taxes.

      That is why there is a C4 tax status for non-profit lobbying organizations - they are non-profits, but pay taxes because they are political.

      •  If that's the case (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Judge Moonbox

        then why aren't evangelical churches similarly inhibited?  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:54:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If they get caught they are (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Timbuk3, lgmcp, NonnyO, marykk, Judge Moonbox

          That is what this whole brouhaha is about. They want their cake and eat it too stuff.

          Some articles on past incidences and investigations:

          http://www.au.org/...

          2006

          The Internal Revenue Service said yesterday it found a "disturbing" amount of illegal politicking in churches and charities after investigating complaints coming out of the 2004 election.

          To prevent a repeat in the upcoming congressional elections, the agency said it is gearing up to quickly investigate and quash any violations that arise this year.

          "We want to stop improper activity during -- not after -- the election cycle," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. "Now is the time to act, before it is too late" to prevent churches and charities from becoming deeply embroiled in politics and the fundraising process.

          http://www.washtimes.com/...

          This austere church, with its gothic revival architecture, seems an unlikely target of a federal government investigation. But the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, is facing scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service.

          The IRS is threatening to pull the church's tax-exempt status because of a political sermon delivered in October 2004, the Sunday before the last presidential election.

          http://www.pbs.org/...

  •  They have a point. (8+ / 0-)

    But the end result should be the lifting of all tax exemptions for religious organizations.  

    -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

    by Rich in PA on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:21:44 PM PDT

  •  They have declared a stealth crusade (8+ / 0-)

    against secular and non-fundamentalist America. We really need a coherent plan of action to protect our country and ourselves from these people.

    The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

    by beltane on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:26:28 PM PDT

  •  What does this mean? (0+ / 0-)

    the Founding Fathers oppose the establishment of religion

    I don't believe in coming in second.

    by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:30:57 PM PDT

    •  I recommend two documents. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, Timbuk3

      Thomas Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists and James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments sets out their objection to carrying into the new government one of the chief vices of the old Colonial relationship.

      Proud Citizen of Barackopolis.

      by Judge Moonbox on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:39:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But those ideas were codified in the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AUBoy2007

        first amendment, which says nothing about "opposing" the establishment of religion.

        I don't believe in coming in second.

        by converse on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:41:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "... or preventing the free exercise thereof" n/t (0+ / 0-)

          Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

          Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

          by Jyrinx on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:54:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Gaming the Constitution. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Timbuk3

          But those ideas were codified in the
          first amendment, which says nothing about "opposing" the establishment of religion.

          You seem to be saying that we should allow no interpretation based on what the Founding Fathers were trying to do; that the texts they left us should not be used to underscore the abuses they hoped to reform.

          Maybe in a strict legal sense we may not use documentary evidence of what they wanted as the ultimate source, but we should be able to introduce their writings into a debate on an issue they fought for passionately.

          Proud Citizen of Barackopolis.

          by Judge Moonbox on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 07:10:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  They have that power right now (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, vacantlook, Judge Moonbox

    All they have to do is relinquish their tax-exempt status, and they can endorse away...setting aside a little bit of time to fill out the tax returns and pay the taxes due on their income.

    Somehow, I don't think that that is what they have in mind...

    I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

    by Wayward Wind on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:40:11 PM PDT

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