November 3, 2014 8:32 am -

[su_right_ad]Rogue pastors have been ignoring IRS rules and endorsing candidates from the pulpit in the run-up to Tuesday’s elections.

Although the IRS was sued itself for not enforcing the law and admitted about 100 churches may be breaking the rules, the pastors and their critics alike say the agency is looking the other way. The agency refuses to say if it is acting.

At the same time, the number of pastors endorsing candidates in what they call Pulpit Freedom Sunday jumped from 33 people in 2008 to more than 1,600 this year, according to organizers, Alliance Defending Freedom. And this year, they’ve stepped up their drive, telling pastors to back candidates any Sunday up until the election, not just one Sunday as in past years…

The pastors, who make it easy for the IRS by often taping their sermons and mailing them to the tax agency, argue that it infringes on their First Amendment rights.

“The church is God’s organization — what right does the government have to control this?” said Rev. Kevin Baird of Legacy Church in Charleston, S.C.[su_csky_ad]

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

47 responses to Churches Endorse Candidates; IRS Ignores

  1. Carla Akins November 3rd, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Tax em. I’m done with punished for my belief system.

    • R.J. Carter November 3rd, 2014 at 8:54 am

      So you do agree that taxes are a punishment.

      • Carla Akins November 3rd, 2014 at 8:57 am

        Not quite. But the likes of Joel Osteen not paying property taxes for where he lays his head at night certainly pisses me off.

        • granpa.usthai November 3rd, 2014 at 9:33 am

          when does the ‘religion’ cease to be religious and becomes a money making racket that benefits the top tier? I don’t doubt that a lot of business enterprises would also benefit with a no accountability, no tax, reduced utility/operation cost – which is another thought. WTF is wrong with a ‘church’ of bootleg whiskey?
          Many a folk has become highly religious while inebriated, like tundra tramps as an example.

          • Carla Akins November 3rd, 2014 at 11:19 am

            That’s a church I might be persuaded to join. Just sayin.

          • mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 12:26 pm

            I am open for business now, just tithe 10% and I will assure you a place in a realm of heavenly spirits, distilled from the finest ingredients in all of God’s creation.

          • Carla Akins November 3rd, 2014 at 12:35 pm

            At least I know you have actual knowledge of this religion!

          • Jack E Raynbeau November 3rd, 2014 at 1:26 pm

            I can do it better and for only 9%, blasphemer.

          • Jack E Raynbeau November 3rd, 2014 at 1:25 pm

            When? The moment it gains its first follower.

        • Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 2:43 pm

          Can’t stand that guy. He thinks that God parts traffic congestion for him because of his faith. What a narcissist.

      • mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 9:10 am

        Taxes are a responsibility and the Churches should contribute.

        • R.J. Carter November 3rd, 2014 at 9:52 am

          Then everyone should, no?

          • arc99 November 3rd, 2014 at 10:23 am

            Everyone, based on their income.

            Bottom line, is no. I am definitely not a flat taxer.

          • Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 12:49 pm

            So then you are opposed to the current implementation of the payroll tax, which taxes everyone at the same percentage?

          • mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 2:18 pm

            The payroll tax shouldn’t kick in till people make a certain amount and shouldn’t be capped like it is now. The payroll tax as it is now is a regressive tax that taxes the poor and the middle class more than it does the wealthy.

          • Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 2:42 pm

            I agree that the payroll tax is regressive. A few years ago I ran the numbers to calculate the net federal tax (payroll + income) for married couples ranging from $50K to $1 million gross income. I did not factor in any deductions. What I found was that everyone was paying between 25% and 35% of gross income in federal taxes. It appears that the regressivity of the payroll tax and the progressivity of the income tax have a self-canceling effect, which results in a nearly-flat tax for married couples in the range I looked at. So for people in that range, we could adopt a flat tax of, say, 30% and the result would be about the same as today, only simpler.

      • granpa.usthai November 3rd, 2014 at 9:22 am

        taxes are the cost of freedom in a land where you can travel freely from sea to shinning sea. If those of no faith are being taxed at the same rate of those with faith, then the system becomes a lot more fair. Churches want to push their political beliefs in public, let ’em pay like everybody else. No more illegal favored status for the freeloading bums, period.

        • R.J. Carter November 3rd, 2014 at 9:53 am

          “If those of no faith are being taxed at the same rate of those with faith, then the system becomes a lot more fair.”

          Can we replace “faith” with “means” and still agree on this sentence?

          • Roctuna November 3rd, 2014 at 9:58 am

            If you think people of all means aren’t taxed in this country, you don’t understand the tax system. “The poor don’t pay taxes” is a false gop meme.

          • R.J. Carter November 3rd, 2014 at 10:05 am

            But do they pay them at the same rate, which was the focus of the sentence?

          • mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 10:24 am

            The wealthy that take money out of the economy should pay taxes at a higher rate. If every dollar you make is spent surviving than you should be taxed at the lowest rate.

          • Dwendt44 November 3rd, 2014 at 1:07 pm

            Or not at all.

          • mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 1:31 pm

            Well, they always pay something since there is no way to avoid sales taxes. The income tax should be zero for the really poor. What is the sense in taxing them and then giving it back to them. That just cost money that usually goes to accountants and the big banks.

          • Roctuna November 3rd, 2014 at 11:10 am

            Of course not at the same rate. We have a progressive tax system which seems pretty reasonable to me except for all the loopholes used to escape the system. The poor have none of those advantages. IMO individuals of faith or without should appreciate the progressive system. Churches, many of which claim huge revenue bases, should be taxed at max corporate rates just like the businesses they emulate. Deductions and loopholes are a huge problem but that’s another discussion.

  2. mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 8:51 am

    The Churches have the right to endorse whoever they please. That does not however continue to grant them tax free status. Tax the churches.

  3. Red Eye Robot November 3rd, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    • OldLefty November 3rd, 2014 at 9:39 am

      What’s that have to do with their tax exempt status and the rules;

      the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes,

      net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,

      no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,

      the organization may not intervene win political campaigns, and

      the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.

    • R.J. Carter November 3rd, 2014 at 9:54 am

      The workaround to this is that Congress didn’t make that law, the IRS did. 🙂

      Churches can speak all day long about *policy* they just can’t pick a specific *candidate*.

    • arc99 November 3rd, 2014 at 10:21 am

      don’t see anything in the Constitution that exempts religious organizations from the taxes that Congress is authorized to levy by Article 1 Section 8.

      If churches want to get involved in politics like the rest of us, then let them pay taxes like the rest of us.

      Section 8.

      The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

      • Red Eye Robot November 3rd, 2014 at 5:25 pm

        Tax an organization because they exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to practice their religion and their constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceably assemble? btw, how would you go about taxing a business that makes no profits?

        • Obewon November 3rd, 2014 at 5:37 pm

          ‘Any business making no profit for 3 years is a Hobby’-IRS tax code and all other facts, bests finger in your eye radio fantasies every time. Good luck deducting any “Hobby” expenses from gross income.

        • arc99 November 3rd, 2014 at 5:45 pm

          I never said a word about taxing an organizaing BECAUSE they exercise their rights.

          I did say to treat churches just like any other organization.

          and if a business has no profits, it pays no taxes.

          there is nothing in the Constitution which prevents taxation of the income of religious groups.

        • mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 6:05 pm

          Are you trying infer that donations are not 100% profit? No goods or services are exchanged for the donation, therefore 100% profit. Tax it.

          • Red Eye Robot November 4th, 2014 at 6:41 am

            I am not trying to “infer” anything. ,When I say something it’s implied How you interpret it is inference. Every business has operating expenses. in the case of an org that is exclusively dependent on donations, the expenses usually exceed the donations. Profit is excess revenue after expenses. Furthermore, when churches do raise money in excess of expenses they generally use it for charity work like feeding poor people.

            But here is the difference between you and I . I live in Detroit. There are hundreds of black churches in Detroit. and even more if you count tiny store front churches. And you can bet the ministers in those churches tell their members to vote democrat. tell their members to vote for specific candidates. You can’t get elected mayor in Detroit without support of black ministers. Kwame Kilpatrick won reelection amidst a corruption scandal that landed him in federal prison for 27 years. with the support of the city’s black ministers. Former Prosecutor Mike Dugan, the first white mayor in Detroit since Roman Gribbs 1972 won the primary in a write in campaign against the former police chief (that people liked) because Dugan had support of the city’s black ministers.

            I don’t care that black ministers are telling their members to vote for “insert democrat candidate here” Its none of my business. But you are so stone cold afraid of free speech that you seek to use the government to control free speech with tax policy.

        • Roctuna November 3rd, 2014 at 6:18 pm

          As arc99 said, it’s not the speech and it’s not the assembly. All individuals have the right. It’s breaching the wall and using the institution, and the institutions resources, to campaign and endorse candidates. Or in the Houston case, file lawsuts but expect special treatment. The major religions such as the catholic church have incredible real estate holdings which generate revenues through rent and “flipping”. The prosperity churches have media networks that sell advert time and the market videos, CD’s, books, clothing, “relics” and the list goes on. You can’t tell me the profit isn’t enormous, and all tax-free cuz god.

  4. Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    These pastors are not following the example that Jesus set. Jesus did not try to change laws. He tried to change hearts. He practiced persuasion, not coercion. Jesus didn’t get 100% compliance. Lots of people chose to ignore his teachings. He did not attempt to coerce anyone. While 5,000 people attended the Sermon on the Mount, the rest of the populace chose to be somewhere else. If you’re a preacher, lots of people are going to ignore you. If you don’t like it, and you try to enshrine your beliefs in the law, then you are not following the example set by Jesus.

    • mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      Therefore they should be taxed like everyone else. They are cheating and gaming the system.

      • Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        If I had my way, no organizations would have tax-exempt status. Treat all organizations the same, and let them say whatever they want. The Red Cross does important work. So do many churches. But under the current system, someone in Washington has to decide whether Scientology qualifies as a religion or whether the Wiccans qualify as a non-profit outreach organization. I don’t think the government should be in the business of deciding which organizations are “worthy” and which are “not worthy”.

        • arc99 November 3rd, 2014 at 3:10 pm

          I agree with your basic premise, but I would advocate handling it a bit differently.

          No more tax exempt organizations. Then when each group files the annual tax return, expenses occurred for activities such as providing a soup kitchen, delivering clothes or food to needy families, etc. would be deductible expenses.

          So instead of relying on civil servants, the organization is responsible for maximizing the tax benefit. Do good works, and keep your receipts.

          • Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 3:28 pm

            So it’s the Activity, and not the Organization, that qualifies for an exemption. That is an appealing idea. So if the Wiccans operate a soup kitchen (I am picturing a witch’s brew – lol) they could get an exemption for that activity, which seems right. But if they charter a flight to Stonehenge for some kind of ceremony, there’s no exemption for that.

            Just an anecdote: I worked in a grocery store for a couple of years while attending college. This was before scanners, so we had to enter every price manually. There were separate keys for Taxable and Non-taxable items. In my state (PA) at that time, candles were taxable unless they were being purchased for religious purposes. If a customer said “These are for church”, I guess we were supposed to ring them up as non-taxable, although I never encountered the situation.

          • arc99 November 3rd, 2014 at 5:52 pm

            yes, very similar to how you or I or any individual can deduct charitable contributions.

            so if an organization such as the Red Cross, where the entire operation consists of providing charity to others, then all of those expenses would be deductible.

            if you and I both agree on the basic premise, that means it might be a reasonable idea worth exploring for compromise.

            which means it will have zero chance of ever becoming law…..

          • Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 6:47 pm

            Earlier today I watched part of a C-SPAN program in which Brian Lamb interviewed historian Harold Holzer, who specializes in Lincoln and the Lincoln era. They got around to discussing political polarization. They showed a brief video clip of a section of the Lincoln Museum in Springfield where there are about 80 political cartoons displayed that are really insulting to Lincoln.

            Holzer said that political polarization was worse during the Lincoln era, but he thought we were getting close to the same level today. That made me uneasy.

            He also said that in those days, newspapers did not try to disguise the fact that they favored a particular party. Many of them used the word Republican, Democrat, or Whig in their title. Holzer thought that this was actually better than the situation we have today where networks like MSNBC and Fox are less open about their partisanship.

            The thing is that the news networks are businesses, and as such they are constantly worried about ratings. So they seem to recruit the most partisan voices. I live in a rural county that is half Democrat and half Republican. My wife and most of her relatives are Democrats. Most of my relatives are Republicans. My wife was raised Catholic. I was raised Protestant. Our son married a Jewish girl. We all get along quite well and truly enjoy each others’ company.

            Are we unique, or is this how most ordinary Americans think?

    • Dwendt44 November 3rd, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      I seriously doubt that 5000 number. Like much of the bible is very likely wildly exaggerated.
      But bare in mind that jesus didn’t come to save the Gentile, he ONLY came for the Jews/Hebrews. He even said so himself.
      That $70 Billion ( a very conservative estimate) in income taxes the churches AREN’T paying would go a long way towards paying down our national debt.
      The property taxes that could be paid to local governments would help their budgets as well.

      • Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 1:25 pm

        It is my understanding that China and Japan are the largest holders of foreign debt, but the majority of the national debt is owed to US investors. It is my understanding that every time someone purchases a Savings Bond, they are increasing the national debt, and every time an investor buys a Treasury Bill, they are also increasing the national debt. I am in favor of paying down the national debt, because when interest rates go up, the interest on the debt eats up a larger portion of the budget. That interest is paid mainly to foreign and domestic investors who have purchased T-Bills and other Treasury instruments.

        • mea_mark November 3rd, 2014 at 2:14 pm

          One of the things that was gained in the stimulus that the fed did in the QE programs was to buy back the bonds that paid the highest interest rates. Much of what we owe now has virtually no interest on it. All we really have to do is not borrow more money once the economy gets going again and start paying off what we owe. At the same time just doing nothing with inflation occurring reduces are debt as a percentage of GDP. It is like are debt just magically disappears with inflation. A 2 – 3% inflation is like wiping out 2 – 3% of our debt every year. America is really doing a lot better than most people realize, because they don’t understand macroeconomics and how the financial system really works.

          • Robert M. Snyder November 3rd, 2014 at 2:45 pm

            A lot of smart people didn’t see the recession coming, so it stands to reason that a lot of smart people won’t see the next boom until we are squarely in the midst of it.

  5. Bunya November 3rd, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Churches do that every election cycle. I remember during the last election, the priest at our parish encouraged the parishioners not to vote for President Obama. Nope. They should vote for the “pro life” candidate who will privatize social security and do away with SCHIP and welfare programs – because, as everybody knows, life begins at conception and ends once that baby passes through the birth canal.