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Mon Nov 12, 2012, 06:00 PM

Election blurring of church, state separation draws complaints

Source: Reuters

Election blurring of church, state separation draws complaints

By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO | Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:33pm EST

(Reuters) - Political watchdog and secularist groups are asking the U.S. government to investigate whether Catholic bishops and a Christian evangelical group headed by preacher Billy Graham should lose tax breaks for telling followers how to vote in this year's election.

Under constitutional protections of free speech and separation of church and state, churches are free to speak on any issue. But they risk losing tax breaks worth $145 billion in the past decade if they violate Internal Revenue Service rules by promoting or opposing any particular candidate. Other non-profits also have special tax status.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a political watchdog group, in its complaint to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, cited reports of individual bishops "abusing their positions to advocate against the election of President Barack Obama."

The group's executive director, Melanie Sloan, said some bishops went too far by saying a vote for Democrats would mean going to hell. "I don't think the Catholic bishops should be intimidating parishioners to advocate for any particular candidate," said Sloan.

-snip-


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-usa-campaign-religion-idUSBRE8A71M420121112

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 06:21 PM

1. god, protect me from your followers!

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 06:38 PM

2. Those churches that use their influence to support political candidates

ought to lose their tax exempt status.
Why should we subsidize their existence if they are going to work against our interests?
In the case of the Catholics, whose insistence that their freedom of religion is being infringed upon by state mandated insurance that covers birth control, it is clear that they are attempting to infuse their religion into government policy. That, coupled with their open advocacy of a non-Christian candidate promoting a non-Christian agenda reveal how little they focus on the work of the church and how much they want to play politics.
They should definitely lose the tax exempt status.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 06:48 PM

3. There doesn't appear to be a good solution to this problem because if the Church loses its exemption

because of a few bishops who DID go too far, the uproar among Catholics in general would almost certainly swing the Catholic vote well over to the Republican side, maybe permanently.

Would that be a good outcome?

Realizing that only a few bishops out of hundreds even came close to crossing the line into political speech?

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #3)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:58 PM

5. So what you're saying is

all Catholics support the leadership. Which is the exact opposite of what we're always told when child abuse or pushing right wing ideas comes up.

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Response to JoeyT (Reply #5)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 05:24 AM

6. Well add to that specifically they are trying to coerce people into voting a specific way

That just pisses me off.

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Response to JoeyT (Reply #5)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 04:15 PM

9. That is not what I'm saying. But most Catholics would not want the Church to lose

the tax exemption, which allows them to deduct their contributions just as members of other Churches do -- simply because a handful of bishops (out of hundreds) may have crossed the line.



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Response to pnwmom (Reply #3)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 06:42 AM

8. Well its not just a few Bishops

I am a very active practicing Catholic, and this problem is more wide spread then just a few Bishops.

On election day, ah hell in the weeks leading up to the election IMHO there was way to much political influence happening. I saw so many people wearing robme buttons on parishioners it wasn't even funny. I have no problem with regular parishioners doing this but many of them were ushers and EM's. Those people should have to remove that crap but they didn't. I'm 100% positive if I wore an Obama anything I'd have been told to remove it.

Ok the buttons were just one small thing.

In Florida we had all those amendments and there was one #8 that was labeled "Protect Religious Freedom Rights" or something to that effect. Anyway like most amendments in this election the name had nothing to do with the amendment. We already voted on Freedom of religion, plus not only is this right in the US Constitution but also the State Constitution. The amendment was about using tax dollars to fund religious schools.

Now our Church held a big meeting that they wanted everyone at where they talked about the right way Catholics should vote.

In the bulletins they had voter guides. These were very carefull not go over that thin line of endorsing stuff but just barley. See the thing is on the Sunday before the election people would put flyers on the cars with this voting guide only this one is no longer abiding by the flyers in the bulletin. These flyers blatantly said Good Catholics should vote this way.

To the Pastors credit he was out in the parking lot removing the flyers in between the masses. But the parishioners don't get it. One person was mad that the flyers were removed. She thought they should be left on all the cars.

There were signs for Amendment #8 on Church property. Now they might be able to do that because it was an amendment but I personally don't think it should be allowed.

I personally threw away stacks of robme/lying stickers, that were left on the tables next to the bulletins. Parishioners left them and would try to restock them. I trashed them.

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Response to kydo (Reply #8)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 06:40 PM

13. "To the Pastors credit he was out in the parking lot removing the flyers in between the masses."

I don't think Pastors should be punished because of parishioners who wear buttons, or bishops in other dioceses who do cross the line. And I, in Seattle, don't want our Church to lose its exemption and be less able to do the good things it does because of something people in Florida might have done.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 06:58 PM

4. Let's tax the mega churches, the Mormons and the Scientologists.

Tax them out of existence.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 05:26 AM

7. This is what I'd like to see an organization pick up the ball on and go after the churches

If each person filed a complaint against these churches the IRS and the FEC would be forced to investigate this. We basically let this be during the election cycle, but I think now is the time to act to preempt them from doing this in 2014.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 04:16 PM

10. Tax the church, Tax the rich, Stop the Wars, budget fixed.

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Response to sarcasmo (Reply #10)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 04:56 PM

11. Amen, Brother!

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 06:24 PM

12. All churches should lose their tax exemption.

They should form separate charity organizations that qualify for tax exemptions that help other people. The tithing should not be a deduction. There wouldn't be anything wrong with the parishioner reducing their tithing and giving what they don't give to the church charity group.

Money given to a church that pays for the salaries and benefits of the clergy and other staff not deductible.
Money given to a church that pays for the maintenance of a church not deductible.

Money given to a church charity that is used only to run the charity would be deductible.
The charity could not have have a clergy person administer or be on the board. They could not have their spouse or relative on the board.

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Response to LiberalFighter (Reply #12)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 06:53 PM

14. +1

This has seemed obvious to me for years. I wonder why it's not done that way. I'm tired of subsidizing prosyletizing and recreation centers for church members.

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Response to LiberalFighter (Reply #12)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 06:54 PM

15. +2

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