NPR: The IRS Lets Churches and Religi-Businesses Get Away With Stunning Bookkeeping Shenanigans

What’s the difference between running a church and running a religious business? The Internal Revenue Service is happy to pretend that there isn’t one, NPR’s John Burnett found in a two-part investigation:

Televangelists have a choice when they deal with the IRS. Some, like Pat Robertson and Billy Graham, register as religious organizations. They’re exempt from most taxes but still must file disclosure reports showing how they make and spend their money.

Daystar [one the largest religious TV networks in America] and dozens of others call themselves churches, which enjoy the greatest protection and privacy of all nonprofit organizations in America.

Churches avoid not only taxes, but any requirement to disclose their finances. And, as NPR has learned, for the past five years churches have avoided virtually any scrutiny whatsoever from the federal government’s tax authority.

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Deeply Protestant South Korean Doctor Performs Gender Reassignment Surgeries to Correct ‘God’s Mistakes’

If some doctors like to play God, Dr. Kim Seok-Kwun is content just correcting the Big Guy’s goofs. As Dr. Kim Seok-Kwun begins surgery to create a functioning penis for a Buddhist monk who was born female, he is well aware of the unease his work creates in deeply conservative South Korea. The devout Protestant known as [Read More...]

Brunei Embraces Sharia Law, Including Dismemberment and Stoning to Death

Allah, it seems, is cool with brutal human-rights violations. Or at least the Sultan of Brunei is.

The Sultan of Brunei, one of the world’s wealthiest rulers and a close ally of Britain, will this week oversee his country’s transition to a system of Islamic law with punishments that include flogging, the dismemberment of limbs and stoning to death.

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Mother Jones Probe Finds That Hobby Lobby Invests Millions in Makers of Birth-Control Pills and Abortifacients

As we’ve seen, the owners of Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, don’t like the part of the Affordable Care Act that would oblige them to cover emergency contraception in their employees’ healthcare plans. It’s against their religious beliefs, you see. So Hobby Lobby took its fight all the way to the Supreme Court, where a ruling is expected in June.

Meanwhile, we can all marvel at these facts, unearthed by Molly Redden at Mother Jones:

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Beware Beach Baptisms: the Lord Giveth and He Taketh Away

Short of a miracle, Benito Flores is lost at sea and must be presumed dead. He gave his life to help other people get all wet baptized.

A California man remains missing a day after he was swept out to sea during an ocean baptism.

Benito Flores, 43, was among several people helping his cousin, Pastor Maurigro Cervantes, baptize a man near the Guadalupe Dunes Preserve north of Santa Barbara.

Two others were swept out by a huge wave but were able to swim to shore.

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