Religious organizations that oppose gay marriage may lose tax exemption?

An exchange between a Supreme Court Justice and the Solicitor General:

Justice Alito: In the Bob Jones case, the [Supreme] Court held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?

Donald Verrilli: It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue. [Read more...]

Pastors defying the IRS by politicking from the pulpit

More and more pastors are endorsing particular candidates from the pulpit, purposefully defying the IRS law for non-profit tax-exempt organizations.  So far the IRS is ignoring the violations, but the pastors are goading the agency by sending it tapes of their sermons.

Is this a violation of Romans 13?  Also, under Romans 13, shouldn’t churches just pay taxes, thus preserving their ability to preach whatever they want?  Or can you make a case for this kind of civil disobedience?  There is also, of course, the theological issue of what is supposed to be preached from the pulpit–namely, Christ and Him crucified for sinners, as opposed to worldly powers and principalities.  Or can you give a theological reason for preaching about political candidates? [Read more...]

Making churches pay taxes

We should make churches pay taxes. So say two recent articles.  Matthew Yglesias of Slate says that tax breaks force citizens to, in effect, fund religions they disagree with. Also, tax breaks don’t improve church productivity, since upgrading the building and other things churches spend money on won’t necessarily save more souls.  Also, eliminating the non-profit tax break would allow churches to proclaim their moral convictions more forthrightly and to endorse political candidates, which he thinks is perfectly appropriate.

Then Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post, expressing agreement with Yglesias, counts just how much tax breaks for churches cost the government and, following the assumption that all money belongs to the government so that not taking someone else’s money is an government expense and a giveaway, he concludes that “You give religions more than $82.5 billion per year.”

After the jump:  The links and excerpts giving their arguments.  Can you answer them?  Or are they right? [Read more...]

Letting churches endorse candidates?

A commission is recommending to Congress that churches and other  501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations be allowed to endorse political candidates without losing their tax-extemptions.  Here is the report.  Details after the jump.

I decry the politicization of churches.  And yet I also decry the federal government using the tax code to squelch political speech, which seems to me to deserve particular protection under the 1st Amendment.  Which also protects religious liberty, and some religions do emphasize political action, whether from the right or from the left.

What do you think about this? [Read more...]


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