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Last night, Bill Maher concluded with a New Rule saying that Mitt Romney's giving to his own church should NOT count as charity and be tax deductible.

Now, I don't want to re-fight last Friday's show, or get into a pissing match with the Internet, but the usual suspects are bitching that I was wrong in saying that Romney's charitable giving doesn't count, because it all goes to his cult.  I'm sorry, I meant to say his ridiculous church.

....

In any event, it doesn't matter, and I'm very sorry if I called your horseshit bullshit.  The real issue is, when Mitt Romney gets a deduction for giving to charity, the rest of us taxpayers have to cover the loss.  Charitable deductions reduce the public coffers by about $60 billion dollars a year.  They take more out of our budget than enforcing the Buffett Rule would put back in.

....

Still, if Mitt Romney gave 10% of his income to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, I would be the first to say, "Good robot!"  But he gives it to the Mormon church, which spent millions here in California in a political battle to make sure the only gay at the wedding is the priest who performs the ceremony.  (shocked audience applause)

And public dollars should not be subsidizing that. ....

And look, I'm not saying the Mormon church doesn't do some good things.  They provide food during famines, and wheelchairs for the lame.  But that's not their main concern, which is, like any business, growing the business, opening branches, selling more product, putting asses in tabernacles.  General Electric plants a tree now and then, it doesn't make them Johnny Appleseed.

Video and full transcript below the fold.



And finally, New Rule: Donating your money to help repair this kid's cleft palate, or to feed these hungry people?  That's charity.  Giving money so Bryce and Spencer can spend two years in Namibia spreading nonsense about celestial marriage and how Jesus is coming back to Missouri?  Not charity.  (wild audience applause)

Bryce, Spencer, if you really want to help the people of famine-ravaged Namibia, skip the tie and the book, and just let them eat you.

Now, I don't want to re-fight last Friday's show, or get into a pissing match with the Internet, but the usual suspects are bitching that I was wrong in saying that Romney's charitable giving doesn't count, because it all goes to his cult.  I'm sorry, I meant to say his ridiculous church.

But religion, cult, truth is there's no real definition of which is which.  It's more like, hehe, if the shoe fits.  I personally define a cult as any religion with fewer followers than Snooki has on Twitter.  Also, Mormonism is secretive.  And that's another trait I associate with cults.  Catholics own their crazy.  It's right on the table.  Mormons are more like Fight Club.  (audience applause)

In any event, it doesn't matter, and I'm very sorry if I called your horseshit bullshit.  The real issue is, when Mitt Romney gets a deduction for giving to charity, the rest of us taxpayers have to cover the loss.  Charitable deductions reduce the public coffers by about $60 billion dollars a year.  They take more out of our budget than enforcing the Buffett Rule would put back in.

So it is fair to ask what should constitute a charity.  Now the way it works when you're a Mormon is you give 10% of your income to your local... coven, or whatever it's called.  They send it to Salt Lake City, where it's counted by goblins and guarded by dragons... I'm sorry, that's Harry Potter.

Still, if Mitt Romney gave 10% of his income to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, I would be the first to say, "Good robot!"  But he gives it to the Mormon church, which spent millions here in California in a political battle to make sure the only gay at the wedding is the priest who performs the ceremony.  (shocked audience applause)

And public dollars should not be subsidizing that.  And yet all last week, people came up to me and said, "But Bill, the Mormon church performs good deeds.  How can you say they're not a charity?"  To which I responded, "Get away from me, Donny and Marie!"

And look, I'm not saying the Mormon church doesn't do some good things.  They provide food during famines, and wheelchairs for the lame.  But that's not their main concern, which is, like any business, growing the business, opening branches, selling more product, putting asses in tabernacles.  General Electric plants a tree now and then, it doesn't make them Johnny Appleseed.

Real charities only care about the charity.  This is the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic, which provides health care to poor children.

From an architectural standpoint, not much to look at.  This is the Mormon temple in San Diego.

Either that, or Superman's Fortress of Solitude.  (audience applause)

Someone has to explain to me why Mitt Romney gets a tax write-off for giving money to the people who already own this.  A good rule of thumb for telling the good charities from the fakes?  Real charities don't have castles!!

This is Disney Hall, where the L.A. symphony performs.  Lots of people give money to symphonies, and they get tax deductions for that.  But they shouldn't!  Because again, it's a fucking castle!!  And because unlike food and water, access to Mozart is not a basic human necessity.  (audience applause)

You like the ballet?  Go to the ballet.  Write a big check supporting it.  But unless Swan Lake needs to be drained to keep orphans from getting malaria, don't ask the rest of us to support your hobby.

Originally posted to BruinKid on Sat May 05, 2012 at 05:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (173+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leo Flinnwood, DuzT, tardis10, boji, meralda, arlene, DRo, blue jersey mom, One Pissed Off Liberal, chefdan, CT yanqui, msmacgyver, Jjc2006, followyourbliss, Thinking Fella, BoiseBlue, Murphoney, Iberian, tcdup, Quantumlogic, Cedwyn, Buckeye54, xanthippe2, devtob, Lefty Ladig, NM Ray, DickCheneyBeforeHeDicksYou, The Pollster, DavidW, blueoasis, deha, IreGyre, tapestry, Yellow Canary, parryander, JosephK74, Calfacon, taonow, cleduc2, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, tle, a2nite, Johnny Nucleo, gfv6800, Diane Gee, fiddlingnero, TFinSF, Youffraita, Medium Head Boy, lineatus, lakehillsliberal, Knucklehead, The grouch, middleagedhousewife, Spoc42, prettygirlxoxoxo, SoCalSal, TexMex, sd4david, koosah, dmhlt 66, Gordon20024, ChemBob, RLF, cany, madmsf, cacamp, Alice Venturi, rasbobbo, beltane, HappyinNM, SoCaliana, LSmith, looseleaf, PhilW, WisePiper, millwood, estreya, Hirodog, SBandini, coolbreeze, jhb90277, OIL GUY, Lying eyes, sailmaker, hippie bitch, SaintC, DixieDishrag, gizmo59, SherwoodB, M Sullivan, snoopydawg, Dem Beans, 88kathy, samoashark, Spirit Dancer, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, Nica24, BigOkie, ExStr8, LamontCranston, vacantlook, elwior, DMiller, palantir, importer, Smoh, Son of a Cat, JTinDC, dotsright, jamess, Dartagnan, Anak, nellgwen, spacejam, The Wizard, camlbacker, maggiejean, Liberal Granny, rapala, JonBarleycorn, AnnetteK, allergywoman, ninkasi23, fumie, joynow, MartyM, dagnome, frsbdg, psnyder, Sychotic1, tytalus, old wobbly, Lefty Coaster, mofembot, SueM1121, political mutt, DeminNewJ, rubyr, wsexson, Shockwave, drawingporno, devis1, jacey, Ckntfld, freeport beach PA, zerone, Timari, cwsmoke, Trotskyrepublican, nokkonwud, Angie in WA State, Jake Williams, elziax, OldDragon, OLinda, sunny skies, Texknight, skyounkin, Donkey Hotey, solesse413, bfbenn, carpunder, bcashncali, kaye, EdSF, Mathazar, triciawyse, nookular, kaliope, ColoTim, PBen, splashy
  •  Building malls is a strange way to use tithes. (22+ / 0-)

    "I have spent many years of my life in opposition and I rather like the role." - Eleanor Roosevelt. I would like to add that I am a happy atheist!

    by Rogneid on Sat May 05, 2012 at 05:16:15 AM PDT

    •  Not to mention hunting preserves for the (7+ / 0-)

      extremely wealthy, which the church also owns.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:10:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rich Wingers like the guise of donating to charity (7+ / 0-)

      No surprise that Rmoney and the Koch brothers think alike ...

      Koch-Theater_Tea-Party_Guerilla-Action_01

      “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” ~ FDR

      by dmhlt 66 on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:20:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  because they're giving our money not theirs (5+ / 0-)

        Rich folks love the "charity' deduction because they can use tax money to fund their favorite cause. They are not "giving" a dime of their own fortunes. They're redirecting government moneys to causes they like and support.

        The real issue is, when Mitt Romney gets a deduction for giving to charity, the rest of us taxpayers have to cover the loss.  Charitable deductions reduce the public coffers by about $60 billion dollars a year.  They take more out of our budget than enforcing the Buffett Rule would put back in.

        America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

        by cacamp on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:50:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Deductions are not 100% (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc

          So your conclusion is wrong.

          If I am wrong about the 100%, someone please correct me.

        •  Actually, that's not how it works... (4+ / 0-)
          Rich folks love the "charity' deduction because they can use tax money to fund their favorite cause. They are not "giving" a dime of their own fortunes. They're redirecting government moneys to causes they like and support.
              Charitable gifts are subtracted from the giver's gross income, and therefore reduce the taxable income of the giver. Whatever "government moneys" go to those causes are the percentage of the giver's income that would have gone to taxes if the giver had not made the charitable contribution. So if the giver is in a 35% tax bracket, 35% of the gift would have gone to taxes if the gift hadn't been made. 65% of the gift comes from the money the giver would have kept; i.e., "their own fortunes."

          -7.25, -6.26

          We are men of action; lies do not become us.

          by ER Doc on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:19:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I thought it works like this... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ER Doc

            say a person owes $100 in taxes they can "give" a certain percentage of that to charity. I freely admit being too por to deduct shit so very well may be wrong.

            America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

            by cacamp on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:48:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Tax deductions are subtracted from taxable income (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cacamp

              before the tax is figured. That means that the reduction in a person's tax is the percentage of their highest tax bracket, since it would have come from that highest percentage. The standard deduction for a single person is $5,700, so if you have less than $5,700 in deductions as a single person, it's better not to itemize your deductions and just take the standard deduction, but wealthy people virtually always have more, so they itemize deductions. For a married couple filing jointly, the standard deduction is $11,400.
                   When you itemize, the charitable contrbutions are added to the various other deductions such as mortgage interest, business expenses, etc., and that amount is subtracted from the income before the tax is figured.
                   For people married filing jointly, the tax brackets are as follows:
              The first $0 – $17,400 are taxed at 10%.
              The next $17,401 – $70,700 are taxed at 15%.
              The next $70,701 – $142,700 are taxed at 25%.  
              The next $142,701 – $217,450 are taxed at 28%.  
              The next $217,451 – $388,350 are taxed at 33%.  
              And everything over $388,350 is taxed at 35%.
                   So, for a wealthy person with total income over $388,350 after all the deductions are taken, the deductions all save 35% in taxes. That still means that whatever a wealthy person contributes to charity, 65% of it would still have been their money if they hadn't donated it.
                   These deductions still save more money for the very wealthy than others, since their top tax rate is higher. For someone like me for example, even though I make a lot of money relatively speaking, my top tax rate is 28%, so my charitable contributions represent 28% tax money and 72% my money.

              -7.25, -6.26

              We are men of action; lies do not become us.

              by ER Doc on Sun May 06, 2012 at 01:40:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Money is fungible (15+ / 0-)

    That's what Republican argue about Planned Parenthood.  Nevermind that they took the opposite view when Bush put in the Faith-Based Initiatives (which Obama kept in place, dagnabbit!)

    At any rate, the Planned Parenthood argument is front and center nowadays.  By the same logic, Mitt's big support of the Mormon Church paid for the Prop 8 Mormon operation in California.

    Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

    by Land of Enchantment on Sat May 05, 2012 at 05:39:15 AM PDT

  •  I think the Vatican is much more (9+ / 0-)

    elaborate than LDS, and Catholics claim their donations on their tax returns.

    Who is Bill Maher to decide which sect is legitimate?


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sat May 05, 2012 at 05:40:05 AM PDT

  •  Properly Progressive Taxes Would Bring Us Back (8+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Iberian, devtob, BradyB, IreGyre, a2nite, Chi, ozsea1, elwior

    our middle class [taxes on both individuals and business], which is more than either ending charitable deductions or the Buffet rule combined would do.

    Now I do get his main point about political activities that should not be subsidized by tax dollars. But part of his supporting argument shows that our two parties have got us arguing over the choice between eye of newt and toe of frog to turn the economy around.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat May 05, 2012 at 05:49:11 AM PDT

    •  His/your definition of "political activity"... (4+ / 0-)

      comprises advocacy of every stripe.  An arbitrary line between the social and the political cannot be drawn in the sand at "feeding the hungry," for instance.  

      What is the justification?  Who makes that determination and how well would that set of priorities stand up to the concept of Equal Protection?

      It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

      by Murphoney on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:11:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's no equal protection issue. (6+ / 0-)

        The granting of deductions is "an act of legislative grace," which is well-worn line from a court case that's cited every time some charity doesn't think it gets enough free ponies.

        There's no question at all that we could use the tax code to privilege only organizations that engage in bona fide charitable activities (or, in the language of the Pemsel heads - Pemsel being the centuries old case from which all anglo laws of charity are drawn - only those charities that engage in relief of the poor)

        IMHO, that would be an excellent way to do it: full deductibility for orgs that engage in the relief of the poor, and maybe 50% deductibility for the rest of the universe of 501(c)(3) orgs.

  •  This is why there should be no tax deductions (6+ / 0-)

    at all

    there should be four or five lower tax rates, no exemptions, no deductions, and no credits

  •  he has a point (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, JosephK74, madmsf, ozsea1, Sychotic1, elwior

    Mormons have to give 10% of their income to be in good standing with the church. It isn't really charitable it is required.
    Then again Jews have to pay a certain amount of dues to a temple so I guess where do you draw the line.

    •  I Am Surprised That Bill Maher Hasn't... (5+ / 0-)

      made the following suggestion, since he is a full blown Libertarian.

      Eliminate all charitable deductions, as well as all other deductions, and get the government our of our bedrrom by making the tax code the same for everyone regardless of whether you are married or have kids, no exemptions or married/single filing.  Get the government out of marriage and quit issuing government licenses.  Let churches and other groups handle their own marriages independently.

      Unfortunately, the tax code has a huge influence on how we conduct our lives and this would let us live our lives without government influence as much as possible.

      •  praise the free market. (0+ / 0-)

        all hail the beneficent corp.

        It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

        by Murphoney on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:40:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Whoa, what? (0+ / 0-)
        Unfortunately, the tax code has a huge influence on how we conduct our lives

        I'm not trying to be confrontational or pick a fight, but is that true?

        P.S. I am not a crackpot.

        by BoiseBlue on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:44:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True at the margins, I'll bet. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe, Angie in WA State

          If we revamped the tax code re: charities, I'll bet giving patterns would be materially changed.

          That said "huge influence" is probably a bit of an overstatement as a general proposition.

          •  Oh, I'm sure the very wealthy would change (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elwior

            how they operate wrt to charities, but as far as the tax code influencing our lives, I just can't imagine anyone being so stupid as to change their life plans based on the tax code.

            P.S. I am not a crackpot.

            by BoiseBlue on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:53:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Charitable deductions are regressive (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, Angie in WA State

              They only matter if you itemize deductions.  If you don't, or if your donations are informal or in small amounts (like donating money to a  family whose child needs medical treatment they can't afford or who is facing financial struggles), tax deductibility doesn't affect your decision making.  

              •  Yes, I know. I already said that upthread (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elwior

                I'm still waiting for the original commenter to clarify the statement

                Unfortunately, the tax code has a huge influence on how we conduct our lives
                He/she has not addressed that.

                And I'm not talking about the one percent.

                P.S. I am not a crackpot.

                by BoiseBlue on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:49:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Kind Of Depends On What "Huge" Means To You... (4+ / 0-)

                  I guess it is possible to not be influencded by the tax code.  But here is a short list of some of the ones I have seen that influence tens or hundreds of millions.

                  Mortgage deduction
                  Dependent exemption
                  Child Care deduction
                  Charitable contributions
                  Marriage filing (good until you get on Social Security
                      then you need to divorce and shack up)
                  IRA's
                  Working off the books (many people do and feel guilty
                       for doing it)
                  Home and hobby businesses
                  Tax credits and rebates for many things such as Energy
                        Star devices, solar power, cars etc.
                  Health Savings Accounts
                  "Before Tax" payments to avoid paying tax on things
                         such as Long Term Disability.
                  Charitable contributions "in kind" such as cars, Goodwill
                         etc.

                  The IRA portion of the Tax Code probably affects the most people, surely more than 100 million.  If you look at the advertising for IRA's and car donations, the Tax Code appears to have a significant affect on peoples behavior.  Huge?  Up to the individual to decide.

                  •  lots of us stay in a home or go from home (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    nextstep

                    to home for the mortgage interest deduction.

                    •  I Have Taken It, But... (0+ / 0-)

                      didn't buy a house because of it or use it to calculate which house I could afford.

                      The home mortgage deduction can be changed at any time so I didn't make a potentially 30 year decision based upon something outside my control.

                      IRA's on the other hand I have contributed for the sole purpose of avoiding taxes.  There is a risk since it is in an IRA.  The government could convert them to Federal Annuities and/or add restrictions to them.

            •  I moved out of NYC in part because of the tax code (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              laserhaas, nextstep

              It wasn't the overriding factor, but it was one of two or three big factors.  Like I said, at the margins (it was a major marginal cost), it will impact decision.

        •  BoiseB - if Congress didn't think it could (4+ / 0-)

          influence our lives the tax code would not be 70,000 pages.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:26:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think it is true (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          in the Trees, lurkyloo, elwior, SoCaliana

          1. Many people buy homes rather than renting because the mortgage interest deduction shelters some of their income.

          2. Many people get married, rather than just living together, because of the tax advantage.

          3. Many people invested in energy efficient upgrades for their homes because of energy credits on their income taxes.

          Those are just three examples. The fact is, our tax code is designed to get people to behave in certain ways. Currently, many states are working to get us to pay sales tax on our Internet purchases, not so much to get the revenue (though they want that too), but to get us to spend our money locally and boost the local economy.

          A simple flat tax (and getting rid of sales and property taxes) would remove all the social coercion from our tax code, but it would also be harder on the people at the low end of the income sale. Ten percent of not-quite-enough-to-get-by, is draconian. Ten percent of more-money-than-you-could-possibly-spend brings in more revenue for the government, and hurts the payer not at all.

          A flat tax is how lords taxed their vassals, and it resulted in people starving to death in bad times.

          Our progressive tax code is probably more complicated than it should be, but it does protect the most vulnerable among us.

          Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

          by elsaf on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:59:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I Know Everyone Here Hates It, But... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SoCaliana, nextstep

            The Fair Tax addresses your concerns about the poor.  It is a Flat Tax with a rebate for all taxes including Income Tax, SS, Medicare Tax etc. up to the poverty level.  Anyone living at or below the poverty threshold would keep 100% of their income (except for State Taxes, of course).  In addition a person could avoid paying taxes on some purchases by buying used, thus "double dipping" for those things.

            The Fair Tax clearly would benefit the poor, but at the cost of reducing social engineering inherent in our current tax code.

            •  why would State taxes be excluded (0+ / 0-)

              if you're at or below the poverty level?

            •  I prefer a national VAT and/or sales tax with only (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, in the Trees

              a single (or first) home or rental exempt
              food to be prepared at home exempt
              medical services and supplies exempt

              These three take most of the money that comes into low income households, by exempting them, the very poorest will pay a very, very small amount in taxes (other household supplies, paper products, electronic devices, etc).

              After all, under this scenario, you only pay a tax when you buy something.

              There are no year-after-year changes in the tax system from bought-and-paid-for politicians, because there is no more IRS to fine-tune anymore.

              The system for collection of these taxes are already in place, retail outlets in every state already have electronic devices with allow for credit card payments. Those same devices can collect tax monies and direct them instantly to the governmental entity which should receive them.

              I'm also not popular for my views on taxation, but there you have it, it's what I believe would serve the nation and the people better than the one we have.

              * * *
              I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization
              -- SCOTUS Justice O.W. Holmes Jr.
              * * *
              "A Better World is Possible"
              -- #Occupy

              by Angie in WA State on Sat May 05, 2012 at 01:48:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  He's not a Libertarian. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wsexson, elwior

        He admitted either this year or last year on his show that he's pretty much a lefty who wants pot legalized.

    •  Not quite (6+ / 0-)

      There is no overarching organization to which Jews give money to, as Judaism is not centrally organized.  Individual congregations set dues for membership, though you can attend services without being a member.  It is generally a sliding scale cost, with flexibility for people who can't pay what would normally be expected.

      Plus according to Jewish theology, charity is  called tzedakah, lterally "justice", and is an ethical obligation.  There are different ways to contribute toward the support of the poor and disadvantaged.  One way is to give someone a job, so for example I have been paying a family member who recently graduated college but has not yet found full time employment a generous amount of wages for doing some work, and that is IMO tzedakah.

    •  I think that is the key point. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, Catte Nappe, Vita Brevis

      The tax deductiblity is not the issue.  He is required to give 10% to his church.  If he is required to give it, it is not an act of charity, it is a tax.  A tax collected by the Mormon church, but a tax nonetheless.  If he gives more than 10% to his church that would be an act of charity; the 10% is no more an act of charity than paying his taxes.  

      The issue is, what has he done to help others, to serve others that was done willingly, generously, graciously, through love, not obligation?

      “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

      by ahumbleopinion on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:13:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There should be some kind of ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    taonow, elwior, Sychotic1

    ... "charity test" for organizations to be able to claim that donors can get tax breaks for charitable donations. What percentage of a gift of $10.00 to the Mormon Church goes to actual charity? As Bill Maher suggests, an inordinate amount might be going to architecture and building. What percentage would go to charity if the donation were made to the Catholic Church? What percentage of the same gift goes to charity when you give it to the Sunset Free Clinic?

    One of the things I think Bill Maher is getting at is that the definition of "charity" seems to be different for a lot of people. I think that's fine and necessary, let me repeat that word necessary, but there also needs to be a better definition of "charity." Issue advocacy for an election should not be called charity. Buying property to build the brand should not be charity. Opening the eyes of the public to what are cost-effective charities is, I think, a very good thing that Bill Maher did with his time. Some fun:

    romney2

    "I'm Mitt Romney, and I'm the real Mitt Romney. All the other Mitt Romneys are just mass-debating." -- Mittbot ver.12.0

    by Tortmaster on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:49:20 AM PDT

    •  yes. gov't-approved religions would be very (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      Constitutional.

      It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

      by Murphoney on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:53:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As long as there's a mechanical test, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG

        there wouldn't be a problem.  The government wouldn't be favoring this or that religion; they'd be providing deductions for actual charity.  As long as its a neutral regulatory scheme applied evenly, there's no constitutional issue (see, eg, Employment Division v Smith)

        •  I don't know that Employment Div vs. Smith (0+ / 0-)

          applies.

          Maybe it does, but the entanglement of (otherwise) criminal activity seems to put the case on entirely different legal grounds.

          If it applies, I don't understand the crossover from criminal- to tax-law.

          It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

          by Murphoney on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:10:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The general principle is that there's no (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wsexson

            first amendment objection available where the law at issue is facially neutral and isn't intended to wack religion.

            The lead case in the law of exempt orgs is Branch Ministries v Rossoti, in which a church's exemption was stripped for engaging in prohibited political activity.  The church sued, claiming a first amendment right to political speech.  The court held for the IRS, and cited Smith as follows:

            The Supreme Court has held that under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, application of a neutral, generally applicable law need not be justified by a compelling governmental interest even if the law has the incidental effect of burdening a particular religious practice.  Employment Div. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872, 879 (1989); see  Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 531 (1993). Under the rationale of
            Smith, plaintiffs cannot state a First Amendment Free Exercise Clause claim.
            •  ok, there's still the wrinkle of prohibited (0+ / 0-)

              activity in Branch Ministries v Rossoti -- and I don't know if that's significant, or not -- but that helps me understand, thanks.

              However, a certain amount of government intrusion into the finances of a church has apparently already been determined to be more than an incidental burden, so that precedent would need to be considered in the "general application" requirement of any mechanical test.

              It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

              by Murphoney on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:20:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  where has it been held that inquiry into (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Murphoney

                finances is a more than incidental burden?  I know Congress has exempted churches from the 990 reporting regime, but that's a matter of legislative prerogative, not a constitutional requirement as far as I know.  

                •  given no other rationale for exemption from both (0+ / 0-)

                  requirement of filing the 990 and from the requirement to file for exemption from filing the 990, there is the -- now, would this be pro forma or de facto -- admission of Congress that it should not make such a requirement.

                  I don't know what prerogative Congress would exercise in order to reverse itself, without treading on the Freedom of Religion.

                  It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

                  by Murphoney on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:39:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It's not an "admission of congress." (0+ / 0-)

                    Congress can do all sorts of things that don't constitute some constitutional position.  They can take away the special exemptions for churches as easily as they provide them, IOW.

                    •  found it: (0+ / 0-)

                      in Walz vs. Tax Commission of the City of New York, SCOTUS ruled

                      the exemptions for religious organizations created only a minimal and remote involvement between church and state, and far less of an involvement than would be created by taxation of churches, and the effect of the exemptions was thus not an excessive government entanglement with religion. The grant of a tax exemption was not sponsorship of the organizations because the government did not transfer part of its revenue to churches but simply abstained from demanding that the churches support the state. The exemption created a more minimal and remote involvement between church and state than did taxation because it restricted the fiscal relationship between church and state and reinforced the desired separation insulating one from the other.

                      It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

                      by Murphoney on Sat May 05, 2012 at 04:10:57 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  That Smith quote comes from the district court (0+ / 0-)

              not the circuit court.  PDF of that district court opinion is here.

    •  That applies 10-fold to universities and hospitals (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi

      If we're looking at "actual charity" as a % of total expenditures, I'd bet the farm that universities and hospitals are far bigger offenders than most churches.

      •  I agree about the "mechanical test," ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster, ozsea1

        johnny wurster. That's one of the reasons I wrote, in the comment above,

        One of the things I think Bill Maher is getting at is that the definition of "charity" seems to be different for a lot of people. I think that's fine and necessary, let me repeat that word necessary, but there also needs to be a better definition of "charity."
        We cannot all agree on what is charity, what deserves charity and so on, but we can agree that to receive taxable charity donation status, a charitable organization has to use 80% of income on actual charity. Another mechanical test would be something along the lines of a means test. For example, the Catholic Church, Harvard and the Mormon Church might have, say, 3,000x their actual yearly charitable expenditures in banks or in the form of some other kind of "laying around" asset. How is that giving to a charity if it goes straight to a big, fat bank account?

        As for hospitals, johnny wurster, I think that a lot of people would think that a hospital providing service in a town or area that otherwise would not have such services -- especially if they are non-profits -- would meet the definition of charity. I tend to agree with you about universities, especially private ones with massive endowments.  

        "I'm Mitt Romney, and I'm the real Mitt Romney. All the other Mitt Romneys are just mass-debating." -- Mittbot ver.12.0

        by Tortmaster on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:18:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Are you trying to say that Romney is led by the (0+ / 0-)

      his church's leaders?

      I'm trying to understand why you have a statue of Brigham Young and the Salt Lake Temple behind Romney in that pic.

      I'm not trying to be rude or anything, but I seriously don't get it.

      His church has nothing to do with his candidacy, just like Obama's choice of worship has nothing to do with Obama.

      Can you fill me in a bit?

      •  Cartoons ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FoodChillinMFr, elwior

        ... are like gossamer and one doesn't dissect gossamer, FoodChillinMFr. It's merely a commentary on contemporary mores, a slice of life, a pun, Vorshtein. Take your pick.

        "I'm Mitt Romney, and I'm the real Mitt Romney. All the other Mitt Romneys are just mass-debating." -- Mittbot ver.12.0

        by Tortmaster on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:35:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Alright. Fair enough. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm a Mormon (not so active, but still a member).

          I can't stand Romney.  The guy is running a sickeningly dishonest campaign against Obama, and Romney's politics are based on squashing the poorest among us.

          That said, he is in no way led by the church just like our guy Harry Reed.   (not saying you were implying that).

    •  That statue (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, elwior

      used to have the hand extended, palm-up, toward Mormon-owned Zion's bank in downtown SLC.  I think it was moved years ago to a less ironic destination.

      ....no longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

      by TFinSF on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:42:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They already have a control on what religions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior

      are considered valid. I can't claim a deduction for giving to my church of the ineffable shoe.... or to toadstools or ancient aliens.. There is some threshold. Usually having to do with if someone judges them to be valid and has the power to make sure they are deferred to.

      I agree with the commentor who said do away with all deductions because most of the them are simply payoffs to some power group... Real estate deduction for homeowners & landlords... Religious donations for large churches...

      Change the base line taxes and set up simple levels based on a baseline living expenses

      Proud Slut...Fear is the Mind Killer

      by boophus on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:52:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree that it's not charity (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, ahumbleopinion, elwior, SoCaliana

    because it's compelled by the faith. Charity would be what he donated to other organizations above and beyond his compulsory tithe and it doesn't appear he did.

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

    by Vita Brevis on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:24:02 AM PDT

    •  How is that different... (0+ / 0-)

      ...from the cost of a zoo or museum membership, or membership in the ASPCA or another organization like that?

      The tithe isn't actually compulsory; he could choose not to tithe and not to be a member of the 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 Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:41:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The annual tithing settlement (0+ / 0-)

        meeting for one makes it different.  Last time I checked, the zoo or museum doesn't make you sit down with the director. You elect to have a membership which is given in exchange for a cost.

        And your analogy is like apples and elephants to me.

        We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

        by Vita Brevis on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:30:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bill Maher's finest hour. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, elwior, Angie in WA State

    OK, that's over the top, but I watched him talking about charity, and felt like standing up and cheering.  "Charity" seems to be similar to "supporting the troops";  doesn't matter what's really going on, you're a minion of Satan if you pull aside the curtain.  Opposed to torture, wholesale slaughter, trillion-dollar wars?  You're not supporting the troops.  Opposed to castles, million-dollar preacher mansions, fundamentalist politicking?  You don't like charity.

    You monster!

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:33:49 AM PDT

  •  I'm Mormon and agree with some of Maher's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoiseBlue, rccats3, elwior

    argument regarding tax deductions on tithes.  Personally, I'd be fine with having my tithes taxed if congress wanted to fix that part of the tax code.

    The problem is it'll never happen.  Politicians will never, ever touch tax exemptions on religious tithes with a ten foot pole (even though maybe it would be the right thing to do).

    This isn't just a 'Mormon' problem.  This is an issue that affects EVERY SINGLE U.S. CHURCH.  Jews, Baptists, Catholics, Pastafarians, even Obama's church.  You mess with taxing religious tithes and you mess with every church in America;  in other words, kiss your political career goodbye.

    Again, I'm all for it.  Tax the churches.  Go for it.  But lets remember that this isn't some Mormon church tax scam (as I felt Maher implied).  

  •  this temple feels like a tooth-pick or a (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cany, ozsea1, apip0115, elwior

    pitchfork to me. Everytime I pass it on the DC beltway I am glad if it is behind me and I made it "unharmed".

    Why do these temples all have sharp needles sticking into the sky?

    MormonTemple-5151869115_ddf7c5b4a3_m

    •  It's for Moroni, the angel, atop the highest point (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, mimi, elwior, Angie in WA State

      who, apparently, needs a view.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:15:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Is that snark? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, mimi

      They are steeples. Almost all Christian churches have them.

      P.S. I am not a crackpot.

      by BoiseBlue on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:19:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  not all of them and in some I feel more (0+ / 0-)

        more comfortable than in others. Can't express what I mean, but look at these three photos.

        Berliner Gedächtniskirche in 1939:
        B 145 Bild-P014310
        Berliner Gedächtniskirche after WWII:
        gedaechtniskirche-am-kurfuerstendamm-5
        400_F_22154168_1XtN8R3NjQc4fGIcFvWrs7o2WWFR63cy

        New Berliner Gedächtniskirche:
        from the outside the new church surrounds the old church that had lost its steeples with a tower with no steeples at one side and the body of the church in a hexagonal block at the other:
        Gedaechtniskirche_Berlin_360x220
        inside:
        InsideGedaechtniskireche2621952878_ef7d24d6cc
        berlin-gedaechnis-kirche01
        3508025922_1e888e0493

        Still a Christian Church, but one without steeples, the only one, where I would go into to find reflection, meditation and prayers.

        The new tower has no steeples and to me that has a reason and I am glad there aren't any.

        Does that make sense to you? If not, just forget about my comment, I didn't mean to offend anyone and also didn't mean it in a snarky way.

    •  Why are penthouse apartments on the upper floor? (0+ / 0-)

      Humans value height as a matter of prestige and status. Probably rooted in our tree-climbing lower brain.

      Anyway, it's nothing to do with churches per se.

  •  The most interesting thing, and one that LDS (4+ / 0-)

    members complain about A LOT, is that the church never, ever tells its members WHAT they spend their money on. They do NOT produce a spreadsheet for membership. It is kept very quiet.

    The amount they claim they DO spend on charity (feeding needy people, etc.) is a small fraction given in hints.

    It's a major annoying issue in the church.

    My church, on the other hand, gives out the annual budget to everyone and the Vestry accounts monthly to the church and everything is open and in plain sight... as it should be.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:15:16 AM PDT

  •  Access to Mozart is a basic necessity. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    M Sullivan, kalmoth, a2nite

    Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

    by rasbobbo on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:41:03 AM PDT

  •  if it's tax deductible it isn't "charity" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mimi, lurkyloo

    It's a tax loophole. Mitt or anyone else who claims their tax deductions as 'charity' is full of it. What it is is a way to redirect public moneys to churches. They aren't giving  their own money to their church, they're giving ours, yours and mine.

    If our government wants to use our tax money on churches it can. It's the same as spending on war. But rich people should not say they are giving money to charity, they are not. They're being allowed to redirect government tax money to be spent on something they like, a huge tax loophole yes, but not charity.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:43:10 AM PDT

    •  what Bill said... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi, lurkyloo

      It's all a fucking tax scam...

      The real issue is, when Mitt Romney gets a deduction for giving to charity, the rest of us taxpayers have to cover the loss.  Charitable deductions reduce the public coffers by about $60 billion dollars a year.  They take more out of our budget than enforcing the Buffett Rule would put back in.

      America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

      by cacamp on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:52:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  cant agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Support Civil Liberty, Quicklund

    what make Mormonism any different from any other religion? If they are tax deductible, then it should be too.

    Now we can talk about whether any religious donations should be considered charitable, but otherwise, why would his religion be an exception?

  •  Funding Proposition 8 is about as far as charity.. (0+ / 0-)

    as you can possibly get.

    Bill Maher was spot-on last night.

  •  Maher has a rude, crude way (6+ / 0-)

    Of putting my feelings into words. I wouldn't state it the way he has, but I don't think he's wrong on any count. In the 18th century, the only "charitable" organizations that were both wide-spread enough and had the interest in caring for the poor were the churches. Catholic or Protestant, it didn't matter; they were the only real game in town. Non-church based charities didn't become a real force until the 19th century, and even then, many were still based in and part of the given denomination's religious doctrine.

    But that's not so today. Today we can support charities that have no connection with a specific religion. When I do my charitable giving, that's what I do; I choose not to give to Salvation Army, for instance, because they discriminate against LGBT people. Instead, I give to my local, totally secular, food pantry.

    And, as a recovering Mormon, I cannot help but comment on the LDS Church's "pay to play" religious doctrine. If you don't pay your tithing and your monthly Fast Offering, you can't get a temple recommend. Without a temple recommend, you can't get married in the approved Mormon fashion - in the temple. Nor can you, it should be noted, go to the temple and rebaptise Anne Frank for the umpitty-umpth time, but I digress.

    Mormons do pretty much take care of their own poor, but there are many more non-Mormon poor people that can go hang, for all The Brethern care. No goodies for them! On the other hand, Catholic Charities and some of the Jewish charities don't care what religion you are; if you meet their standards for poorness, you get just as much help as their co-religionists do.

    The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature. - Arthur D. Hlavaty

    by Alice Venturi on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:18:33 AM PDT

  •  End all deductions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boophus

    why even have the government in the business of deciding what is a worthy charity or religion? the tax code needs significant reform. I think all deductions should end, even home mortgage interest rates. it would allow a simpler and fairer tax code.

  •  Bravo, Bill! My only quibble? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wasatch, kalmoth

    Access to art is a basic, human right.

    Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, Content, and sufficient champagne. --Dorothy Parker

    by M Sullivan on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:36:44 AM PDT

  •  Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the (0+ / 0-)

    doors and see all the people.

    . . . from Julie, Julia. "Oh, well. Boo-hoo. Now what?"

    by 88kathy on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:43:33 AM PDT

  •  Remember black churches organized getting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund

    the vote.  Hence bombing and burning of black churches.  

    I am saying that a white church being political and a black church being political are the same thing.  

    . . . from Julie, Julia. "Oh, well. Boo-hoo. Now what?"

    by 88kathy on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:45:44 AM PDT

  •  See windmill, grasp lance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Murphoney

    Luck with your Church-Donations-Aren't-Charity Crusade Bill. However, as an agnostic, I am prohibited from specifying which sort of luck.

    The American People are certainly behind you on this one. Well, if there's time left over after the We Hate Kittens 'Cuz They're Ugly rally.

  •  One of his better "New Rules" segment. (0+ / 0-)

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:59:55 AM PDT

  •  By all means consider the symphony worthy of (0+ / 0-)

    preferential tax treatment  but make its ticket price nominal at most.

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:26:51 AM PDT

  •  Defining charity legally, morally, ethically (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Murphoney, Sychotic1

    The law defines tax deductible charitable giving from a legal perspectic - and it includes churches and religious organizations among many others. There is certainly room to debate how the law defines these things, but probably not a very fruitful debate - too many people's pet causes at risk. As I read through the Maher rant I hit my roadblock with symphony and other arts organizations. Even though I am a staunch defender of the work of faith based charities, the bridge too far for me was threatening arts organizations.

    All of that aside, I think there is a definite distinction between the moral and ethical level of charity when someone tithes to their church vs giving to the food bank or SPCA or local little theater or public radio station. The most generously charitable people I know, who also are church members, give to their church and to many of the other kinds of causes. If someone contends that their only charity is their church (let alone the "minimum required" by their church) then they are being miserly. I have wondered if Mitt's avoidance of sharing his tax returns is because of this.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:51:00 AM PDT

    •  thank you for this: (0+ / 0-)
      The most generously charitable people I know, who also are church members, give to their church and to many of the other kinds of causes.
      My husband and I both give through the Combined Federal Campaign.  I support hunger charities, international relief organizations, etc. -- I do not give to the arts because I know others will do so. I'm not sure which organizations my husband supports with his, but I trust him to make good decisions.

      But, as Presbyterians, we also pledge and give to our church, and some of that money -- about 11-12% of it -- does go directly to our mission projects (local, national and international.  Furthermore, our church provides a free space for 8 AA meetings/week. As an historic church, we have a docent program so we can share our space and our stories with tourists and other visitors.  And we have many additional special events during the year that raise funds/collect needed goods for direct assistance. (Food collection crates are permanent fixtures all year long.)

      Nationally, the Presbyterian Church is very active in social justice areas. The Presbyterian Health Education and Welfare Association is a ministry of the Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry ministry area of the General Assembly Mission Council, Presbyterian Church(U.S.A.)  

      This organization includes the following networks:
      PAN: AIDS Network
      PHN: Health Network
      PARO: Affirming Reproductive Options
      PADVN Domestic Violence Network
      PDC: Disability Concerns
      PSMIN: Serious Mental Illness
      PCAN: Child Advocacy
      PACT: Community Transformation
      PCJN Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network

      None of our money goes to sponsor hate -- anywhere. Do we pay our ministers/support staff? Of course. Do we pay to keep the lights on and the roof repaired? Yes. Can our congregation do everything we do without the staff and buildings? No.

      Every charity anyone gives to has some overhead. If you want to limit that part of my charitable contributions that go to support the Presbyterian Church to the amount that goes for direct assistance, fine.

      But then that should also be done for donations to every other charitable organization.
       

      "The corrupt fear us. The honest support us. The heroic join us." Jesse LaGreca (MinistryOfTruth),Tuesday, October 4, 2011.

      by gfre on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:50:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Surely You Don't Mean This... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster
      If someone contends that their only charity is their church (let alone the "minimum required" by their church) then they are being miserly.
      Using your standard Vice President Biden is one of the most miserly politicians in Washington.  Do you really hold him in such low esteem?
    •  Arts orgs are playgrounds for the rich. (0+ / 0-)

      There's no way they're as valuable as food banks.

  •  I agree. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wsexson

    We shouldn't be giving Romney tax breaks to fuck over gay people. Period.

    •  The government can't have different policies... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster

      ...for churches that work against LGBT rights and churches that work for them—or for churches that advocate for policies that help the homeless, or for racial or sexual equality, or anything else.

      Any policy that would tax Mitt Romney's religion would tax the religion of some of the core Democratic constituencies as well.

      "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 Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:46:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  BBC2 did a documentary on the Mormon (0+ / 0-)

        faith.

        Here's an excerpt from that doc, with an interview with an LDS apostle, Jeffrey R. Holland, pointing out that candidates of all faiths pledge loyalty to their god.

        Even the candidate "Osama"..(around the 2 minute mark).

        More info about the doc here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/...

        Maher's seemed to single out the Mormon church.  The Catholic church has some mighty fine "castles" too.

        Whether Bill likes it or not, part of the freedom of religion is the ability to donate monies to the religion of your choice.

        And not have that money taxed.

        •  No, it's not. (0+ / 0-)

          "part of the freedom of religion is the ability to donate monies to the religion of your choice.

          And not have that money taxed."
          --Freedom of religion should not apply to money, which is property. Show me a religious belief that is based on giving money tax-free to institutions, please. Hint: there isn't one.

          •  The power to tax is the power to destroy. (0+ / 0-)

            Giving government the power to shut down churches is the ultimate violation of the freedom of 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 Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:34:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  So what? (0+ / 0-)

        Why not tax all churches? I have no problem with that whatsoever.

        •  I have a huge problem with that. (0+ / 0-)

          My church, located in the city, sits on some pretty valuable property.

          If we were taxed on that property, we'd have to shut down, or move out of the city—and we'd have to take with us our meal program for the homeless, our participation in many social-justice causes, the community that sustains many of our older and less-mobile people, the office space we rent out well below market value to nonprofits, and a space where the local neighborhood community holds many of its meetings.

          And religion would become entirely something for the privileged and mobile—something for those who can support a church that's taxed fully on its property, or who have the means to get to a church that is far away from valuable land (and thus, far away from mass transit and accessibility by those who can't drive or can't afford to).

          Oh, and the person or party that proposed that could kiss goodbye any prospect of electoral relevance ever again. I sure wouldn't vote for any person or party who supported such an idea, no matter what letter was after their name and no matter how much I agreed with them on everything else.

          "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 Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:33:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Tithing is not charitable giving. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vita Brevis

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Sat May 05, 2012 at 12:30:32 PM PDT

  •  deduction is OK, exemption is my problem (0+ / 0-)

    I don't mind people getting a deduction for charitable giving and I am willing define that pretty broadly.

    But I think churches should lose their tax exempt status and start contributing to the tax base of their communities. Long ago you could have made a case that they provided more services than their taxes would buy, but I doubt that is the case very often in these modern days.

    www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Sat May 05, 2012 at 12:54:14 PM PDT

  •  Real charities don't have castles. Amen to that. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rccats3, a2nite

    the charity I volunteer with runs out of a storefront in an industrial complex, but we do more to spay and neuter and save homeless animals than the giant humane society in our city that takes in 4 million dollars a year. Both are great charities, but I chose the smaller one to support. Best thing I've ever done.

    What's the difference between a conservative and a bucket of shit? The bucket.

    by dsr2008 on Sat May 05, 2012 at 01:09:59 PM PDT

    •  Much of my charitble giving goes to local animal (0+ / 0-)

      shelters - it is important to help those who can't help themselves.  One of the last two of our 4 cats we adopted lost her home in 2008-2009 because her previous owner couldn't keep her in the economic downturn.  All 4 of our cats are rescue cats from shelters.

      There are so many good causes that help the environment and people/animals in need.  I just wish I had more to give.  In the meantime we have two Prius's and hope we are helping everyone by emitting less pollution.  That is at least as important as saving gasoline.

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