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Da Boss upstairs wants youz guys to know dat maybe you should start payin' a little more to da Church, just in case lightning or some other fuckin' thing should happen to ya.  Dat bastid Satan is always lookin' to pull some shit if you should miss a payment.  We don't want to see nothin' bad happen to ya, do we, Vinnie?  Nah, not at all.  We'll take care of gettin' da money to da Boss - he knows and trusts us, don't you worry.  What?  Your place got flooded even though you paid?  Well, dat's 'cuz you was bein' a bastid or somethin', I don't fuckin' know.  Just pay up and maybe things will get bettuh.  

What?  Racketeerin'?  Dat's bullshit, officeuh - we provide a valuable service to da community, and dat's why we don't pay no fuckin' taxes, 'cuz we do da Lord's work.  If dey don't pay us, then God would send 'em to burn forevuh in Hell, and we don't want dat, do we, Vinnie?  Nah, not at all.  So we collect for Da Boss, and we use it to reward His servants (like us) wit big cars and fancy houses, and reward politicians who also do Da Boss's work.  Racketeerin'?  Fuhgeddaboudit!  Here's dis statement my lawyuh made for me in case I got hassled by da cops:

To whom it may concern in law enforcement,

These gentlemen are breaking no laws.  There is no law against convincing gullible, ignorant hicks that invisible forces will torture them forever if they do not pay money to my clients, obey their orders, and blindly agree with their opinions.  If they were using physical objects to threaten such torture, that would be a felony.

However, since the instruments of these terrorist threats are metaphysical, nonexistent bullshit, then it is entirely the responsibility of the marks believers not to be frightened into giving their money and obedience, whereas my clients are to be exempted from taxation, given special privileges on every level of government, and officially referred to as Your Most High Eminent Reverend Holiness by any who do not wish to be sued.

My clients cannot help it if their preying on the ignorance and fear of the weak results in their becoming massively wealthy at the expense of their victims parishioners.  They are also not responsible for any acts of physical violence, social decay, or governmental failure that result as a tangential consequence of the culture of fear and ignorance their actions breed.  

By reading this letter, you signal tacit acknowledgement of these legal facts and of the fundamental, unquestionable Righteousness of the Church of the Divine Tax Shelter, and the holiness of its apostles, Tony "Ice Pick" Guatanucci and Vinnie "I Kick Da Shit Outta People Cuz It's Funny" Ionello.  

You now owe the Church of the Divine Tax Shelter a $10 notice-reading fee, and have been duly served official notification of your debt by reading this.  Please deliver payment to the apostles now.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Verifiaprofacciolo
Attorney at Law
High Deacon of the Church of the Divine Tax Shelter
Licensed Chiropractor

Hey, officeuh, how come youz don't look happy?  What, you don't like God or somethin'?  Cough up da money, ya bastid.  You read da note.  My bitch girlfriend wants another necklace.  Or, uh, God will punish you, or some shit.  Heh.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (28+ / 0-)

    "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

    by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 02:38:26 AM PST

  •  You got it. Satan wanted in so he set up (7+ / 0-)

    this scheme to be a part of the action. If he can't create, at least he can destroy, but not too fast 'cause what would be the fun in that? So, Satan and his minions wander the earth seeking the ruination of souls (men).
    Does it not follow that those who are incapable of creating are incompetent?
    And, as if to heap insult upon injury, what was the idea of assigning the furtherance of creation (procreation) to women? How demeaning! What kind of dominion is it, if it doesn't determine what exists and what expires?

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 03:00:38 AM PST

  •  Expecting any heat? (8+ / 0-)

    Not from me. The fact that some 25% of voters are voting their religion bothers me greatly.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 03:06:58 AM PST

  •  Of course churches should be taxed. (14+ / 0-)

    Until they spend directly on charity can be a deduction.  I can't wait for the US to catch up with socialist europe so we dump the religious hocus pocus.    The root of all evil is a toss up between money and religion.

    If money is speech, then speech must be money.

    by dkmich on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 03:29:48 AM PST

    •  Organized religion. (8+ / 0-)

      If you have a direct connection and handle it privately, it doesn't count.


      A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

      by Pluto on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:09:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So should all nonprofits also be taxed? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO, americandad, VClib, Kevskos

      Not every nonprofit "spends directly on charity."

      Theatre and arts organizations, philosophical societies, and private schools don't "spend directly on charity" either; should they be similarly taxed?

      Or are you suggesting that religious organizations be discriminated against in our tax code by subjecting them to taxation that other similar nonprofits aren't subjected to?

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

      by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:20:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As long as the religious organizations... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, Troubadour, Pluto

        ... are preaching politics, then yes, they are interfering in secular government and ought to be taxed.  They are violating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

        That's what's wrong with churches or church organizations receiving our tax dollars through the 'office of faith-based initiatives' that Dumbya set up through the White House via an executive order, and Obama expanded.

        SEPARATION of church and state needs to be strictly maintained.

        Obviously, neither Dumbya nor Obama has studied the bloody history of religious wars, or that of governments which forced a government-mandated religion on people (which is why some of my ancestors came to America!), or they'd have some foreboding as to what the current foot in the door represents..., and how bloody awful it may get someday if it's not stopped - NOW.  Otherwise, what happens?  Do we change religion to conform to whatever elected leader is president?  Does Congress make some kind of hodge-podge religious organization that everyone is happy with?  Do we change religions ever four or eight years?

        The 'office of faith-based initiatives' needs to be disbanded with an executive order since that's what was used to set it up.  Even Dumbya wasn't stupid enough to try to get Congress to set up that silly illegal and unconstitutional office, but Dumbya did in exchange for the support of the reichwingnuts.

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:36:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That simple phrase covers a lot of complexity. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Paul Rogers, americandad, VClib
          As long as the religious organizations are preaching politics, then yes, they are interfering in secular government and ought to be taxed.
          Ah, but there's the rub... how exactly do you define "preaching politics"?

          The IRS defines it as endorsing a candidate or party, but allows religious organizations (like other nonprofits) to speak out on the issues themselves.

          Is it "preaching politics" to quote Mary's Magnificat from Luke, where she says that "the poor will be filled with good things, while the rich will be sent away empty," or to quote Jesus saying "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God"?

          Is it "preaching politics" to call on the nation to take up the Mosaic tradition of Jubilee—to forgive all debts and redistribute the nation's wealth?

          Is it "preaching politics" for a church like mine to call for comprehensive immigration reform, not only because it's the right thing to do but also because some of the parishioners at our Spanish-language service are undocumented immigrants?

          And—here's the bigger question—if you're going to tell churches that they can't talk about those things because they would be "preaching politics," and if you're going to make that case on the basis of the First Amendment, then you deny yourself the standing to say that nonreligious nonprofit organizations should also not be able to speak about those issues.

          Your logic would, thus, allow nonreligious nonprofits to continue to speak on those issues; in that case, how are you not setting out a position where the government is explicitly discriminating against organizations of a religious nature—which would be a de facto, if not de jure, establishment of irreligion as a condition for favorable treatment under the law?

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

          by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:50:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  One thing that concerns me. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JamesGG, PSzymeczek, Kevskos, Troubadour

            I don't like that religious hate groups get exemptions from taxes, that they use to spread falsehoods.

            When we grant tax leniency, that's government endorsement of that activity, whether it's having a child, buying a home, or producing energy.

            Why do groups get to spread hate, and use religion as an excuse not to be taxed?  I don't want our tax code to endorse hate.  And it shouldn't.

            I understand how problematic it is to say that religions can't engage in politics.  Everything is political.  And taxing religious groups is potentially a problematic thing for non-profits in general.

            But I think we need to figure out a way to do this.  I wouldn't mind if all religious donations are treated as income for the purposes of tax, but if there's a better way to handle this kind of problem, I'd love to hear it.

            •  I don't see it as "endorsement," necessarily. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib
              When we grant tax leniency, that's government endorsement of that activity, whether it's having a child, buying a home, or producing energy.
              The problem is that the tax exemption that religious institutions receive isn't really "tax leniency," as other nonprofit organizations receive the same tax exemption.

              Put another way: The government's "endorsement" of nonprofit organizations by not taxing them is, in fact, similar to the government's "endorsement" of buying a home—in that the government's "endorsement" of homeownership doesn't mean that the government endorses the guy who cheats on his wife inside that home.

              Why do groups get to spread hate, and use religion as an excuse not to be taxed?  I don't want our tax code to endorse hate.  And it shouldn't.
              The problem is that you would then have to come up with an operative and legal definition for "hate"—which would create no shortage of other problems.

              The wealthy, for example, might define Jesus's statement that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God" as hateful.

              Once we've defined certain forms of speech—aside from political speech, which does have an operative legal definition—as off-limits for any tax-exempt religious organization, we get into really tricky gray areas.

              Further, even if we were to come up with a legally operative definition of "hate," we'd still run into trouble—as you want to bar only religious organizations from engaging in such speech, even as other nonreligious nonprofits are allowed to continue. That still seems like a violation of the First Amendment to me.

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

              by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:15:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Definition of a hate group. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Troubadour

                A group which persists in spreading falsehoods about people, which is demonstrably incorrect.

                Simple, concise, and provable in a court of law.  I think this is the definition the Souther Poverty Law Center uses.  Lots of groups fall under this, using their pseudoscientific nonsense to justify continued intolerance towards gay people.

                One thing I've just read, apparently if a place is categorized as a church, you get to be exempt from property taxes.  Non-religious non-profit groups apparently aren't exempt from this, which is brought up in the dissenting opinion presented on the page.

                •  So you want to empower government... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...to (a) decide what religious speech is true, and what is false, and (b) have the power to shut down (via taxation) any organization that engages in what it deems "falsehoods," by declaring it to be a "hate group"?

                  If such a policy had been in place during the Bush years, giving Bush appointees the power to use government to enforce their own views of "truth" and "falsehood," the Episcopal Church—and most of the other liberal denominations—would no longer exist.

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

                  by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:49:58 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not quite. (0+ / 0-)

                    Only when it directly conflicts with demonstrable science.

                    There's no soul, but teachings like that wouldn't qualify as hate speech because it isn't used to slander a group of humans.

                    Teaching that black people are black because they're evil (as the Mormon church did until the 70s, or so) would qualify.  So would teaching that women are inferior to men in intellectual capacities or moral character.  These things are demonstrably false.

                    Technically, this wouldn't even catch creationism, but then creationism on its own isn't hateful, it's just ludicrous.

                    We do have a standard of science established for courts.  Go with that.

                    But really, we shouldn't be okay with endorsing all nonsense, and taxing sense.  Religious leaders get special tax incentives and breaks, but scientists, educators and atheist leaders do not.

                    •  "Demonstrable science" according to whom? (0+ / 0-)

                      Eventually, some person or group of people has to make the decision. So who would be on this board that would be empowered to use the government to crack down on "hate speech" that it found contrary to "demonstrable science"?

                      This would be a governmental organization—which would mean that ultimately, it would be political people who were making the decisions about who served on this board, even if the board were populated entirely by scientists.

                      Do you really think the Bush administration or Congressional Republicans would have allowed scientists to sit on that board who would crack down on anti-LGBT pseudoscience? If you do, I've got a bridge to sell you.

                      And you can bet your ass that they would have used the mere existence of this "board of truth" to scare up evangelical votes, and probably make inroads into African-American and Latino communities—because unlike their current ridiculous scare tactics, they would actually be telling the truth when they said that electing Democrats could result in a governmental organization shutting down conservative evangelical churches.

                      So this "board of truth" would become yet another political football—only this would be a football with the power to shut down any religious organization that disagreed with it.

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

                      by JamesGG on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:54:35 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Judges (0+ / 0-)

                        A court of law would be sufficient to accomplish this, I think.  But that is a good point.  We trust them not to mangle the science they encounter on the job too badly.  Some aren't very good at it.  People here make a big deal whenever a Bush judge makes a ruling in the favor of Democratic party concerns.  I don't find that all too surprising.  Judges are supposed to be non-partisan like that.

                        It's either that, or religious groups across the board should have their special statuses removed.  Treat them like how UFO-meetup enthusiasts would be treated, according to tax laws.

                        Actually, a lot of religious groups might have trouble with this on the basis of how jews are villainized.

          •  You're confusing scripture... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            ... with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

            They are separate.

            The US president, both houses of congress, and the supreme court need to follow the Constitution and keep religion and government totally separate.

            How is that so difficult to understand?

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:11:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, I'm not confusing those things at all. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Paul Rogers, VClib

              The Constitution doesn't say anything at all about what religious organizations can or can't preach. The First Amendment places a limitation on what government can do, not on what private individuals or organizations—including churches—can do.

              The idea that religious organizations should be treated in the same way as other tax-exempt nonprofit organizations—which means that they aren't allowed to engage in what the IRS deems "political speech" (explicit endorsement)—has been approved as constitutional by a 7-2 Supreme Court decision.

              So, we come back to my initial questions: How would you redefine "political speech" in such a way as to restrict religious organizations' current rhetoric on social and economic issues, while keeping in line with the principle that such a definition must apply equally to all political/social viewpoints?

              And are you suggesting that religious organizations, and religious organizations alone, be subjected to this more stringent definition of what constitutes "political speech" in order to keep their tax-exempt status?

              If so, how is that not in itself a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, in putting forth irreligion as a prerequisite for an organization to be allowed to engage in certain kinds of speech while receiving a tax exemption?

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

              by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:32:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  That's a perfectly valid question about this. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, Troubadour

        This is something that will be problematic in disentangling religious institutions from politics, but it is something that we should be debating.

        I think at the worst, taxing income from religious donations (ie, the salary a clergy earns, and getting rid of the parsonage tax-exempt status that mega-ministers use to make their multi-million dollar estates exempted from tax) would be a good start, and the drawbacks would be far outweighed by the benefits of such things.

        If you work for a non-profit and draw a salary, is your salary not taxed?

      •  Non-profits don't have millions in art (0+ / 0-)

        and gold stashed away.   They don't have monuments like the Mormon church in Utah.   If they do, then they should be taxed too.   Our schools are limping along on a shoe string, and the churches are flaunting their little red slippers.

        If money is speech, then speech must be money.

        by dkmich on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 03:52:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nor do most churches. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dkmich

          You're right that the Roman Catholic Church and the LDS Church have significant assets—which would mean that they would be able to weather the storm of being taxed.

          So would the massive, wealthy megachurches in the suburbs, whose parking decks are chock-full of Lexuses and Audis on Sunday mornings... all the pastor would have to do is ask for another few hundred thousand on the giant projection screens scattered throughout the sanctuary, and the pious wealthy would pony up.

          It would be the less well-heeled churches—the ones sitting on valuable land in the urban cores, the ones populated by lower-income people, the ones that don't have massive endowments lying around—that would end up having to shut down.

          So the churches that serve the poor (and that stand up for their interests) would be destroyed, and the regressive conservative churches would survive and grow stronger because they would be the only still-running organizations serving Americans who have religious tendencies.

          Isn't that the opposite of the effect you want?

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

          by JamesGG on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:01:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Amusing. (5+ / 0-)

    Ah, so another person draws a connection between the god of the bible and a sort of cosmic mafia boss.

    Seems about as appropriate as any theist association.

    Personally, though, I prefer an Azathoth interpretation.

    •  It's the biggest protection racket of all time. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, ExStr8, Words In Action, NonnyO

      Shit, I should get into it.  I can totally invent a way more terrifying hell to threaten people with than the pedestrian horrors of the biblical one.

      Just tell people to give me a quarter each - just one lousy quarter - to hedge against the possibility that maybe, just maybe, if they don't worship the god Vloooooooobie through their donations to me, that mystical spiders will crawl out of their anus and devour their soul.

      "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

      by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:52:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not about God (4+ / 0-)

      It's a story about God's self appointed 'representatives'.

      This has been true in all times and religions.


      The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

      by No one gets out alive on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:38:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Twue... (4+ / 0-)

        Until/Unless it/s/he comes and talks to me face-fo-face and answers some of my questions, I remain a non-believer.

        “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
        Then he is not omnipotent.
        Is he able, but not willing?
        Then he is malevolent.
        Is he both able and willing?
        Then whence cometh evil?
        Is he neither able nor willing?
        Then why call him God?”

        Epicurus, Greek philosopher, 341-270 BCE

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:18:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course, that assumes only one supreme God. In (2+ / 0-)

          Japan there are over 8 million (!) of them and that's not even counting all the Buddhist ones that may (or may not) exist.  Ever notice that they don't seem to have these kinds of problems and nobody goes apeshit whenever a depiction of Amaterasu is used in movies or games?

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 07:54:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  :-D I have no idea... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            ... who/what Amaterasu is.  Never heard the name before now.

            [My historical and cultural specialties are primarily western, so please forgive my ignorance.  Since a supreme deity is something that is a fiction to begin with, I don't go apeshit over any depictions of any of the deities.]

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:18:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Amaterasu is supposed to be the Japanese (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour

              sun goddess and one of the most important deities.  She is also the protagonist (in the form of a wolf) of the Okami series of games.

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 10:26:47 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sorry..., computer games... (0+ / 0-)

                ... are not my thing, so your knowledge in this area is waaaaay above mine.

                Go for it, and have fun!

                :-)

                I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

                by NonnyO on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 12:01:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Sure it's about someone's silly god. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        I was once threatened by a 4-year old with hell.

        She seemed convinced I was going to go there, just because I didn't believe.

        That god is a mafia boss.  That child was befuddled by my existence.  Obviously, she was concerned that tha Fathah was going to break mah thumbs.

  •  Well, yeah. I can see your point. (5+ / 0-)

    But I see religion as a huge part of the entertainment industry.

    Why else would people tune in to televangelists and prophets for profit without the spectacle? Churches should absolutely be taxed as any other industry.

    I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:01:57 AM PST

    •  'Zaktly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pucklady, Troubadour

      I was horrified to note on a TV Guide schedule online that the ABC Family channel [ABC is a subsidiary of Disney] has the 700 Club on it's list of programs to watch.

      Seriously?!?  Seriously....

      Literally, my jaw dropped when I saw that.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:20:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They're kind of funny, actually. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        I suspect some of their viewer mail is really trolling, but they're too stupid to know it.

        Then again, there's that old axiom.

        "Sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from parody."

      •  ABC Family is required by contract... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, Troubadour

        ...to air The 700 Club. And if Disney sells the channel to someone else, they are required in perpetuity to air The 700 Club too.

        That's because ABC Family was once The Family Channel—a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, which still owns the "Family" moniker.

        One of the terms of CBN's selling that property first to Fox, and then to Disney, was that the network must continue to air The 700 Club twice per day.

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

        by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:04:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nothing stops them from airing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NonnyO

          other religious perspectives to balance it out.  But they don't.  Pricks.

          "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

          by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:31:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd wager the show isn't stellar for ratings. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't have the time and inclination to look up the numbers right now, but given that the rest of their programming seems to be in the "family-friendly sitcom reruns from the '90s" genre, maybe trying to rope in the rare kid who's home from school sick, I'd be willing to bet that The 700 Club is a ratings drag, and what little controversy it provides is probably enough that it's a bit of a challenge to sell ads against it.

            Why would they invite more controversy and waste another hour or two of low-rating programming time airing other religious perspectives? If I'm the network execs there, I'm doing everything I can to limit the damage The 700 Club is doing to my brand—not trying to increase it.

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

            by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:46:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Hello God its me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, JG in MD, Troubadour

    Just called to ask you a question. How do you feel about organized religion? You say that a good question why thanks so how do you feel. You say that no man can speak for you and anyone who claims to is a charlatan, and as far as all that worship stuff that you don't need it just be nice to  and take care of each other is all you ask. Thanks God for clarifying things!

  •  Not having to subsidize organized religion (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD, Paul Rogers, Kevskos, Troubadour

    may be one of the longer term human rights challenges out there.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries.

    by Words In Action on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:05:55 AM PST

    •  So.... How do we get Obama... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, Troubadour

      ... to issue a countermanding executive order to dismantle the unconstitutional 'office of faith-based initiatives' that Dumbya created via an executive order and is run through the White House...?????

      One would think a prof who taught the constitution would know how it violates the First Amendment and Constitution..., but apparently he's ignoring that in favor of the constant criticism he's not a self-identified Xtian.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:26:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's probably a deliberate choice to pick battles. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Words In Action, Kevskos, Troubadour

        It's fairly standard for Presidents to continue all the programs and abuses of power arranged by their predecessors.

        Changing things, in general, from how they were previously expends 'political capital', and can upset a lot of people who would be impacted by the change.

        There's a chance he hasn't done anything about it because he's looking at more 'bigger picture' stuff.  Like health care reform, banking reform, immigration reform, the ending of DADT, gay rights in general...

        I'm willing to wait on this, if it means that major accomplishments are happening elsewhere in our government.

        Best spend the 'political capital' on stuff that makes the biggest, positive impact on peoples' lives.  Even if this particular thing is a bit silly and annoying.

        •  It's unconstitutional and illegal.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos

          ... not merely "silly and annoying."

          Reichwingnut religious fanatics have been screaming about their alleged trampled rights for too many years when no one was trampling on their friggin' rights, but just trying to follow the constitution by keeping a firm separation of church and state.  The Constitution mandates there shall be no religious test to hold office, but these assholes act like it's their right to mandate a politician have their religious values and no one else's and then they interfere by wanting laws that reflect their religious "values" shoved down the throats of everyone, whether they agree with these nut jobs or not.  They have freedom OF religion..., but their wanting to impose their religious values via laws is infringing on the rights of others who have a right to be protected FROM their religion.

          We have a secular constitution for a secular nation that is supposed to have a secular leader.

          Between illegal, unethical, immoral, dishonorable and unconstitutional wars based on lies for the record-setting profits of oil, MIC, & mercenary corporations, retaining the Repuke commanders for Dumbya's illegal wars, not returning our rights to us by repealing the Patriot Act, MCA '06 (adding insult to injury by adding MCA '09), FISA fiasco '08, not closing Gitmo, moving Iraq troops only to an adjoining country, keeping the illegal and unconstitutional war going in Afghanistan, the drone bombings that started less than a week after Obama was inaugurated, lack of reinstating Glass-Steagall and repealing Gramm-Leach-Bliley (which would go a long ways toward solving the chance of another 'too big to fail' crash again - I'm none too happy with Bill Clinton for signing GLB), lack of a sensible not-for-profit single payer medical insurance plan by transferring everything over to Medicare (no overhead, no executive bonuses or stockholders to pay out to, infrastructure is in place and working efficiently, hiring new people here in the US to take care of the extra paperwork would have a near instant impact on the economy) and now being forced to contribute to the profit margins of insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical corporations which will now be making record-setting profits..., I'm heartily sick of both Obama and nearly all of our Congress Critters kneeling before Repukes, corporations, banks, Casino Wall Street, and not doing a damned thing for the people who elected them.  

          Their behavior of caving in to Repukes, and Obama offering compromises before it's necessary, is so utterly predictable that I should have considered becoming a gambler; I'd have won lots of money betting on the fact that they'd cave every time.

          The time to deal with unconstitutional problems is before they become a problem... not afterward.

          Fascism, anyone?

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
          -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

          Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.
          -- Benito Mussolini

          Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity, quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace.
          -- Benito Mussolini

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:04:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Constitution constitutes the government... (0+ / 0-)

            ...not the people. The people establish the Constitution and the government.

            The Constitution mandates there shall be no religious test to hold office, but these assholes act like it's their right to mandate a politician have their religious values and no one else's
            And insofar as those positions are elected, and insofar as the religious leaders speaking in their personal capacity can convince enough people not to vote for someone who doesn't share their religious values, there is absolutely no constitutional problem with that.

            The Constitution does not limit the people; it limits government. The Constitution restricts the American government from implementing a religious test for a government position; it does not place any restriction on the people, who are allowed to make their voting decisions on the basis of whatever criteria they choose.

            Now, I'll agree that the imposition of laws based entirely in religious beliefs, with no secular or general justification for them, is in fact a violation of the First Amendment, as it represents a governmental establishment of religion.

            But except for the most obvious cases, some of which remain shamefully on the books (like "blue laws" preventing alcohol sales or other business practices on Sundays), it's really difficult to show that a given law has only religious motivations, and it gets into a lot of gray areas I'd rather we not be establishing with the force of law.

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

            by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 09:42:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Faulty interpretation. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NonnyO

              Being tax-exempt conveys special privileges on religion.

              "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

              by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:36:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What's faulty about that interpretation? (0+ / 0-)

                The "no religious test" clause doesn't apply to people's voting decisions—and can't, really, unless you've devised some way to determine which votes are made on the basis of a "religious test" so you can throw them out.

                And religious personages have just as much a right to free speech as anyone else in their personal capacity, so they're free to advocate that people make their voting decisions on the basis of religion—just as they'd be free to advocate that people make their voting decisions on the basis of positions on a given issue, facial hair, height, or any other factor whether or not it has any bearing whatsoever on a person's fitness for office.

                Please indicate where the fault is in that constitutional interpretation.

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

                by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:42:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Tax exemption is subsidization (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NonnyO

                  because everyone in society benefits from the services of government.  One has to pay some level of tax just to be in a state of economic neutrality.  Ergo, religious organizations receive free services from society without contributing anything back, and it's justified entirely on the religious premise that what they claim to give back - some metaphysical quality of spiritual salvation - is of value, and untainted by commercial or political motivation that, if explicit, would involve paying taxes.

                  "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

                  by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:48:16 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  How doesn't that apply to other nonprofits? (0+ / 0-)
                    One has to pay some level of tax just to be in a state of economic neutrality.  Ergo, religious organizations receive free services from society without contributing anything back...
                    No more than any other nonprofit. Other nonprofit organizations don't have to justify their existence by demonstrating that they "contribute something back" to society; they simply have to prove that they are, indeed, not for-profit commercial ventures, and that they're not engaging in any partisan political activity.

                    Again, you seem to want to give religious organizations a higher bar to clear than any other nonprofit organization—in effect, creating a governmental presumption against religion. How doesn't that violate the Establishment Clause?

                    Further, that still doesn't at all address the content of my previous comment, which regarded the "no religious test" clause, and its (lack of) applicability to individuals' voting decisions or to our constitutionally-protected speech about political issues. How does your above comment apply to that conversation thread?

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

                    by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:56:31 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What financial disclosure? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      NonnyO

                      Check it.

                      Sorry, it looks like you're mistaken.  Let's give religious organizations the same bar a non-religious charity has to pass.

                      To do otherwise would be to endorse religion.

                      •  That's about IRS reporting... (0+ / 0-)

                        ...not about any organization having to justify their existence.

                        I don't see anything on there that indicates that any other nonprofit has to demonstrate that they "contribute something back" to society in exchange for their tax exemptions.

                        So it comes back to Troubadour wanting religious organizations to have to do something more than any other nonprofit organization does—in having to explicitly justify why they should be allowed to continue to exist.

                        As for the "endorsing religion" part... while the Constitution doesn't endorse religion, the Free Exercise Clause does specifically protect religion from the state just as the Establishment Clause protects the state from religion.

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

                        by JamesGG on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:45:38 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Looks like they're justifying it to me. (0+ / 0-)

                          What part of reporting one's finances to the IRS isn't justifying those finances?

                          Non-profits have to report their finances, unless it's a church.  Why do they not report their finances?  Why is that fair to the atheist nonprofit group?

                          We're supposed to be equal, but right now people who want to spread nonsense and hate have favor over those who don't.

          •  There's bigger fish to fry. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            Personally, I find that the president being able to order the death of a US citizen without due process slightly more problematic.  I'd rather save my most caustic rhetorical arguments for what I consider the most serious issues.

            It would be best to deal with and organize our priorities with the level of harm each problem causes, and since right now our problems are...  Economic catastrophe, intransigent opposition party, degradation of the social safety net, election integrity, people dying and being mutilated in wars...

            These things are more important.  That's a personal value judgement, of course, but in the political sphere, I consider a number of other issues more important than this one.  There are other issues I would rather solve, if I could only pick one.  (And religion is solved with education, not politics, so I think this is the wrong approach to take on this.)

            As a matter of personal wellbeing (as opposed to political, as above), religion is of course the most important, critical thing of all (what could trump infinite torture vs. infinite reward?).  When I criticize religion, I am usually talking about personal relevance, not political relevance.

            That's not to say there's not some external costs to religious thinking in society.  There are, and they're bad ones (anti-science, anti-women, anti-gay, anti-atheist...).  It's just that those externalities, in my estimation don't outweigh the other problems.

            It's important to keep in mind what actually causes harm, sadness and suffering in the world (some religions have reduced or no anti-woman or anti-gay external costs).  Religion plays a huge role in that, but there are reforms we can institute with good governance policies that has little to do with religion.

            Also, keep in mind that if this problem were solved by Obama right now, every religious group that benefits from the program right now would be angry.  It would set the narrative of the politics, and it might not even do anything (the congress could act to stop the president, or the next one could just set it up again).

            I don't like a number of decisions Obama has made, but there's more I do like.  I trust the President is picking the right battles and doing the best he can with the resources he has.  Pick your battles, keep yourself diplomatic, and try to be scholarly in one's approach to the office.  He's like the 21st century equivalent of Jean-Luc Picard.

      •  He won't. Not only because it's not anywhere (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO

        within the realm of political possibility in the current system, but also because I doubt he agrees. It's just not something your average centrist could get worked up about.

        The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries.

        by Words In Action on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:44:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Describing this President as "centrist" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NonnyO

          is completely ignorant.  Centrism is an ideology of choosing a course of action based on an average of the passion of opposing viewpoints - i.e., fully dependent on the Overton Window and lacking a moral compass.  If you think that's Barack Obama, then you're living in an alternate universe.

          "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

          by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:38:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Centrism is the Third Way - (0+ / 0-)

            it's hovering to the left of the Republicans, wherever they are...as a political calculus. Triangulation, pragmatism. It reduces the number of things worth getting worked up about considerably. And yes, as passionately as I campaigned for the President in '08 and '12, he's clearly a centrist. And this is why we're faced with the possibility of getting the tax increase on the rich for which we fought, but only at the cost of "reforming" the safety net, to which few of us would have agreed, let alone fought for...

            Perhaps TheAction will change all that. We'll see.

            The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries.

            by Words In Action on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:09:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Centrism is not pragmatism, nor vice-versa. (0+ / 0-)

              FDR was pragmatic.  Bill Clinton was centrist.  Obama is pragmatic.

              "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

              by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:23:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Sadly, I know he won't.... (0+ / 0-)

          I don't see Obama as "centrist."  I see him as appeasing the religious reichwingnuts and corporatists..., somewhere to the far right of the Repuke Conservatives.  He'd have to move a LOT to the left to get near the center.

          Since that newspaper article in '07 where he refused to support impeachment and investigation into the lies and war crimes of Dumbya, Dickie, and their lying criminal cohorts (the same views as the other "frontrunner" Dem candidates, which is why I didn't support them either), I've been disappointed in Obama.  The succeeding years have only made me more disappointed as time wore on.

          Yes, as the lesser of two evils, I voted "for" Obama (technically, I voted against the idiocy of the Repukes), but I can't wholeheartedly support someone who pretends to uphold the constitution and breaks laws & treaties, along with the constitution's mandates, all the time.

          Just ONCE in my life I want to vote FOR someone because I can agree with her/his policies, not vote "for" someone because s/he is the lesser of two evils.  That's still voting for evil.  [I'm 66, soon to be 67.  If things keep going as is in our government, my wish will never happen.  We're too far into a fascist government as is with all the corporations coming in and taking over government functions, from illegal and unconstitutional war to medical insurance, and too many religious wackos dictating misogynistic and racist laws they want our legislators to inflict on us, and we don't even have our constitutional rights restored to us since the Patriot Acts and the rest of the idiotic laws have not been repealed.  I don't foresee anything good in our future without a sharp turn to the left and kicking ALL corporations and religious assholes OUT of government and going back to basic constitutional values.]

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:47:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  It is a racket (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, Kevskos, Troubadour

    People go into a building on a certain day and are told what terrible sinners they are but if they follow the speaker and oh, by the way, give him money, they will be redeemed. Malarkey, indeed. Boogeyman politics, I say.

    •  That's not all organized religion. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      americandad, Troubadour

      You certainly describe the practices of some religious organizations, but by no means is your description applicable to all religious organizations.

      I've never heard one word of hellfire and damnation from the pulpit at my Episcopal Church, with the exception of the occasional fiery sermon from one of our priests—one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church—about God's judgment on nations that mistreat their poor, ignore those in need, and worship violence. Still, that's nothing like your description.

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

      by JamesGG on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 06:25:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This post is akin to Fox News for the Left (0+ / 0-)

    lacking both information and humor.  There are questions to be raised about the political activity of churches and their tax status, there are questions to be raised about the behavior or some churches, there are questions to ponder about the existence and nature of whatever it is we're calling God, and there is great humor to be had at the expense of some believers' ideas and practices, but this post fails on all counts.  Please, leave the Fox News treatment to the Right.

    •  What (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      was Fox News like about this diary?

      As you state there are all sorts of issues to be raised about religions involvement in politics.  Just because the author has less regard for religion then you their viewpoint is Fox News like.  Not a very valid argument.

  •  The fancy intellectual version (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, Kevskos, Troubadour

    of this argument.

    Pascal's Wager

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:31:08 AM PST

    •  A foolish wager indeed. (0+ / 0-)

      Because you would have to bet on every possible unprovable claim about metaphysical danger, including mutually exclusive ones, and thus totally invalidate the logic.

      "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

      by Troubadour on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:41:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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