Falwell university’s tax-exempt status questioned after banning Democratic club
In a little-noticed letter to the IRS last week, Americans United for Separation of Church and State called for a formal review of the tax-exempt status of the university founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell in the wake of the school’s decision to ban a club for campus Democrats.
Liberty University, founded by the late preacher Jerry Falwell, banned a student Democratic club in May, saying that its principles were not in line with the university’s (even though the club was pro-life and is, by most accounts, moderate). Falwell’s son is now chancellor of the school.
Americans United director Rev. Barry Lynn fired off a letter to the IRS May 27. The letter can be read here (PDF).
Yesterday, Liberty University returned fire — asking that Americans United be probed for the same alleged offense.
after Americans United sent their letter to the IRS, the tax-exempt Liberty Counsel, founded by Liberty University's Law School Dean Matthew Staver, in a tit-for-tat move, sent its own letter to the IRS asking them to investigate AU and remove its tax-exempt status.
Then again, it's accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits several Christian universities. (Two it does NOT accredit are Pensacola Christian College and Bob Jones University.)
33. Universities are not engaged in for-profit enterprise.
Thus, they are not-for-profit, and thus tax exempt under IRS regulation 501(c)3. Churches are far from the only 501(c)3 organizations. I wish people would read up on tax laws before making uninformed statements.
the Mormon church and the Catholic church. They certainly have been politically active and gotten "rewards" for being so.
Actually it's time for this tax exempt status to go altogether. I mean we now also support religion with our tax dollars. They just call it "faith based" something-or-other. Y'know atheist & Science groups aren't tax exempt. Why should believing in stone age guesses about how the universe works trump real science and evidence. Why are those who believe in reason and trust science not given the exact same benefits as those who who don't (but of course benefit from what those who do discover and utilize)?
Tax the churches Tax the businesses owned by the churches
And make Corporations pay their fare share.
Then we could ALL get a big tax cut from our personal taxes.
Since when did any of the churches deserve to be tax-exempt? They certainly don't seem to be poor and with the poverty in this country, they don't seem to be taking care of anyone except themselves. Time for some REAL wealth redistribution.
15. "Poor" isn't the reason for tax-exempt status.
Public service and being not-for-profit is. They can be religious, educational, or even advocacy (since, in some sense, that's also educational). One could argue quite independently of the tax code that citizen groups, where the citizens already pay taxes and where the groups aren't trying to make a profit for their "owners" should be tax exempt, whether it's the local PTA or the Mormons.
The Nature Conservancy isn't poor, nor are GreenPeace and the ACLU--the all take in a fair amount of money per year, and neither have helping the poor as their primary motivation. Yet they're also non-profit and tax-exempt.
If you tax them they will scream they deserve a political voice because they are paying for it....so in that sense no you can not tax them (from their perspective)
When a "Church" (like say.... the Mormons) gets openly involved with supporting a ballot iniative, like say....Prop 8....(both publicly vocally and financially) then I think it is time to say you have crossed the line from being a Church to being a Political Entity and therefore you will be taxed....
Also take away "Coprorate Personhood" and eliminate stock options as a pay option (not even for bonuses) to reign in the CEOS of the runaway companies....
49. they will scream they deserve a political voice because they are paying for it
Obviously actual churches do have a political voice these days. You mentioned some large examples. There are smaller ones.
So let them pay a "minimum" tax or a special tax or something and make sure they are carefully monitored so they do not stray. Of course if the Government would grow a spine and actually make some big religious organization who has been politically active pay their taxes, the others would scale it back. Money talks and it screams where religion is concerned.
a religion, when it is wealthy enough to buy land and attempt to influence votes, is nothing more than a lobbying group and private corporation.
the idea that religious groups perform some essential function is dead. the religions themselves killed this idea and unless they are TOTAL non-profit institutions whose sole purpose is to feed the poor and care for the sick, I see no reason for them to get preferential treatment - esp. when they support and align themselves with domestic terrorism, hate crimes, and bigotry against groups of people like women and gays.
people are able to speak out about their beliefs and still pay taxes as citizens. I see no reason to give religious people should be treated any differently.
Is Liberty an accredited university? I think this should be challenged because they teach creationism and pretend it's science. we don't accredit those who teach voodoo and allow them to practice medicine. the same standard should hold for creationists.
30. There's no specific law giving tax exempt status to religous institutions.
They are tax exempt under IRS regulation 501(c)3, just like the American Cancer Society or your local homeless shelter. To make a specific law regarding the taxing (or not) of religious institutions would be a violation of the establishment clause. You'll have to find another way to express your hatred.
46. charitable organizations are not supposed to exist for the benefit of private interest
preaching "supply-side jesus" and voter guides sure sound like organizations that exist for private interests to me.
just as I abhor right wing muslim extremists, I abhor right wing christian extremists and I do not apologize for that. Just as organized crime organizations were brought down by targeting their financial aspects, I think it would be a very good thing for this nation if religious extremists in this nation were deprived of funds.
I realize you are involved in a church.
As I said, those that exist to feed the poor and help the sick perform a valuable function. Those that have a history of support for racism, sexism, those that laude the murder of a doctor are worthless. More than worthless. They are harmful to a society.
60. But for the government to decide which religions are good,
and which are not wanders dangerously close to violating the establishment clause....which exists for a reason. I mean, if a Dem administration could turn on conservatives, Repugs could turn on UUs and UCCs.
SACS - Southern Association of Colleges and Schools CCNE - Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education CATE - Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education NCATE - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Ed. etc
22. The fact that they are a "institution of higher learning" is an affront to REAL universities.
The best use of a Liberty Univ. diploma is to wipe your ass. No university should be accredited as a "higher institution of learning" if it espouses creationism, fundamental rhetoric, and nonesensical religious bullshit.
is this partisan politics? The campus Republicans are a sanctioned club, but it may be an open question as to whether the university encourages their involvement in partisan elections to the extent that this is a violation. Barry Lynn is usually spot-on about this sort of thing, but in this case, the slant of his letter is a little strange. He tells the IRS that this MAY be a violation and that they should investigate further, but he knows the law on this point very, very well (AU gets involved in this type of case all the time, and Lynn is an attorney himself, if I'm not mistaken). If there were a really good argument for this being in violation of their tax-exempt status, Lynn could (and would) make it to the IRS at least as well as they could make it to themselves.
81. Found the same thing hilarious! These people are sodding morons.
Seriously... I've been in plenty of debates with right wing morons. I explain something to them logically and simply. They tell me I'm 'spouting nonsense' to which I remark, "Ummm... it's simple logic. It's not my fault you don't understand it."
"No! It's YOU who doesn't understand logic!"
"Ok, then explain it to me... logically."
"I can't explain nonsense!"
Seriously, these morons would rob a bank, get caught, be accused of robbery by witnesses, then turn around and say; "No! YOU'RE the bank robbers!"
They are really that fucking stupid. It's just mind numbing. Yes, they will almost certainly turn around and claim that AUSCS should lose it's tax exempt status for, ummm... trying to keep church and state separate?
You can have great senseless arguments with any of them here in Lynchburg. They'll tell you GOD accredited the univer-shitty and he hates dems. They don't listen to me when I tell them god told me he's a liberal though.
45. I was talking with someone who knows about VA schools...
Edited on Wed Jun-03-09 03:10 PM by sofa king
In a post a while back I noted that Liberty University was already a guaranteed resume-killer to people like me (which means nothing, because I don't look at peoples' resumes), and I pointed out that there are half a dozen or more better schools with comparable or better tuition rates within a two-hour drive of Lynchburg.
Someone better qualified than I agreed that a Liberty degree doesn't count for much except in batshit land, but corrected me about one thing: most Liberty students don't have a snowball's chance in Jerry's new digs of getting into any of those other schools. Liberty isn't even a safety school for most C-or-lower students (and home-schooled students). Rather, it's the only shot some people have of skipping the minor leagues and stepping up directly to a four-year college. Parental church patronage essentially guarantees admission, along with a pulse.
The United States is blessed with a higher education system which practically guarantees a place for anyone who can muster up the funds, and with a lot of hard work, luck, and research, some don't even need that. Liberty is the place for those who can scrape up one or more of the first three of those things, but who are totally incapable of performing the fourth.
Edit: The above is a little unfair, I think, because it does not take into account those who make the best of the meager opportunities they have. I'm sure that there are plenty of those kinds of students at Liberty, too, and they are not so easily dismissed. However, their future success will be in spite of their studies there, not because of it.
I can say with certainty it's a cliche down here. If you're "saved", you're in. Not only do they go to school together, they do business with each other, etc and so on. It's most definitely a cult. In their minds, all the other schools are pretty much junk because science is bull. Liberty to them is the only real school around. They offer Kool-aid and fire-side chats about Jesus with a flame thrower riding around on a dinosaur (which is really a Komodo dragon because dinos only exist in Hollywood). They throw parties when some terrorist Christo-con murders someone like Dr Tiller because they detest murder. I gave up trying to debate these people because that would require a logical mind. Truly they're insane, simple as that and I wish there would be more public discourse around that topic.....Fundies of all religions are insane, there's no logic to be found, only Kool-aid.
It has taken me quite a while to realize it, but I do know someone who was a Liberty student. And that guy was as good as they come. Straight as an arrow, quite bright, and tolerant of me, which is saying a lot. I became pretty good pals with him when I was a student at one of those nearby schools, and I'd completely forgotten him after all these years. I think that edit I made above must have been some part of my brain saying, "hey, wait a minute!"
So there's a lesson for me and maybe others. No matter what generalities I can draw about such things, I must remember that "people" are always made up of unique individuals. I'm supposed to know that by heart.
62. Churches don't get tax exemptions because they're churches.
They qualify along with all other 501c3 organizations, and have to meet certain criteria to do so--none of which includes being a church. There's no specific regulation regarding churches. To begin taxing churches would also mean taxing the American Cancer Society, the Humane Society of the US, your local homeless shelter, any non-profit. A law regulating only churches would be a violation of the establishment clause.
So, you're anti-Christian bias will have to find some other way to play itself out.
73. I am an anti-dogmatist. I do not think churches that spend millions to influence legislation
Edited on Wed Jun-03-09 07:19 PM by rhett o rick
meet the criteria for 501c3 organizations. The Catholic Church and the Mormon Church are a couple of the biggest corporations in the world. Why should my tax money go to to them. They ain't the American Cancer Society, or local food bank. They are a huge corporation that is using their money to influence legislation.
I should have a choice where my tax money goes. And I certainly don't want it to go to any religion, Christian or not. I will help those with cancer, the homeless, the sick, but not help mega churches build huge churches and cathedrals to promote their dogmas.
83. Please explain where in the Constitution it says that the non-religious need to support the
religious. It does mention the separation of church and state. So the state giving churches a tax break is a violation of the Constitution. The only reason the IRS and Congress don't enforce it, is because of the pressure brought to bear by the churches.
I also believe it is against the law for churches to get involved in politics.
First, I am a tax CPA. My understanding of IRC Section 501 is that they are prevented from supporting or opposing specific candidates. They can say or do anything they want in regards to issues. If I had to guess, I would think this would fall under issues.
IRC 501(c)(3) states "does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for political office."
Regs 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(iii) defines candidates as "an individual who offers himself, or is proposed by others, as a contestant for an elective public office, whether such office be national, state or local."
I spent about 15 minutes looking at BNA and some other Treatises and found NOTHING that would lead me to believe this is not acceptable under 501(c)(3) of the Code.
I spent a little time researching revenue rulings, revenue procedures and court cases (we know the Code and Regs don't specifically address this) and could not find anything. Additionally, I contacted an ex-coworker (she has 15 years of non-profit tax experience for a Big 4 firm) and she was not aware of anything saying this.
Do you have any citations? Could you ask them if they do? I would be really interested in reading the conclusions.
based on some Revenue Rulings I found, I would think there MAY be an issue if a specific political party is chosen related to a specific election. Based on this, I would still question if this action would jeopardize tax exempt status.
That said, the government has shown restraint in ever enforcing this. Look at the 2008 election. BOTH parties had churchs straight out supporting them and nothing has happened to them.
Clergy can be as political as we want, as individuals. People often mistake an individual clergyperson as speaking for a church. To do so, they must be speaking from the pulpit, during a meeting or worship service of the church, or otherwise blatantly, obviously speaking in the role of pastor.
Clergy do have the same rights as anyone else to express opinions.
The only one that pops into my mind is the speech Wright gave about how Clinton doesn't have the personal experiences that Obama has. This was clearly a pro-Obama speech. However, I don't know if this speech was part of a sermon or not.
This quote was American United's response to the allegations of Liberty University which questions AU's tax-exempt status for being (paraphrased) 'a de-facto arm of the Democratic party' since it only 'seems' to want to go after churches endorsing Republican candidates. This was offered up in defense.
They are actually building a damn fake-snow ski slope on the mountain behind the school. (I refuse to call it a University) They've already fucked up the beautiful mountain view with a huge LU logo made out of rocks just to get around the Lynchburg City sign ordinance since they claim it's natural. It's like freaking Fundy-Land Theme Park...no fucking way they should be tax exempt.
You can see this shit from The Peaks of Otter on the Blue Ridge Parkway...about 50 miles away. It sucks. The only cool thing about it was sometime last year when some people rearranged the rocks to spell "FU". What I would not have done for a picture.
77. I Wonder How Many Hymen Have Been Dented Up There In The Rockpile?
Edited on Wed Jun-03-09 08:50 PM by Dirigo
What a desecration of greenery turning beautiful Lynchburg into a freakin' Six Flags or Disney Theme park attraction. You have to wonder how many vestal virgins sent to Liberty University don't hike up there with raging hormones getting their hymen dented while overlooking the village below? As has been said this blight on the beauty of Virginia's natural beauty doesn't deserve a tax exemption and they should be made to replant the area forthwith and clean up the site.
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