Skip to comments.Gay advocates fight churches' charity status (Canada's culture war)
Posted on 06/12/2005 2:41:46 PM PDT by GMMAC
Gay advocates fight churches' charity status
Institutions fear losing tax breaks if they oppose same-sex unions;
Rightly so, gay-rights group says
The Ottawa Citizen
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Churches that oppose same-sex marriage legislation have good reason to fear for their charitable status, a leading gay-rights advocate is warning.
"If you are at the public trough, if you are collecting taxpayers' money, you should be following taxpayers' laws. And that means adhering to the Charter," says Kevin Bourassa, who in 2001 married Joe Varnell in one of Canada's first gay weddings, and is behind www.equalmarriage.ca.
"We have no problem with the Catholic Church or any other faith group promoting bigotry," he said. "We have a problem with the Canadian government funding that bigotry."
Several Liberal backbenchers have been pressuring Prime Minister Paul Martin to amend the controversial gay-marriage bill, which is now before the House, to protect the tax status of churches that refuse to perform such marriages.
Under current rules, donations to religious groups are tax-privileged as long as the church refrains from partisan political activity.
"They can't connect their views with any political candidate," said Peter Broder, the director of regulatory affairs at Imagine Canada, an umbrella organization for charities and non-profit groups.
But the role of the Catholic Church in public debate is legitimate and legal, according to Bede Hubbard, the associate secretary general of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"Right from the very beginning, the representatives of the government have called on Canadians to express their opinions," he said. "And certainly, Canadian churches are among Canadian citizens."
Even if the churches are in compliance with tax laws --with or without an amendment to the marriage bill -- they could still be subject to a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But this is unlikely to succeed, Mr. Broder said.
"It's hard to see how that would happen," he said. "For example, I'm not aware of any religious group having been challenged on their refusal to marry divorced people."
Churches rely heavily on their charitable status to encourage more frequent and more generous donations, according to Janet Epp Buckingham, the director of law and public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
"The loss the charitable tax status would really affect the ability of these ministries to carry out their functions," she said. "That includes a lot of things that are beneficial to society, like homeless ministries, outreach to the poor, and international development."
As a result, the Evangelical Fellowship favours an amendment to the bill guaranteeing that charitable status will not be challenged-- even though the group opposes the bill as a whole.
"If they're going to redefine marriage anyway, we would like to see these kinds of amendments in the bill," Ms. Buckingham said.
Bonnie Greene, a retired United Church official who specialized in tax issues, said the charitable status of churches is not under any immediate threat.
However, the regulations governing charities are greatly in need of updating, she said.
"In Canadian law, the definition of charitable activity is over 400 years old, based on a legal case in England," Ms. Greene said. "This is not good for democracy in Canada."
For Mr. Bourassa and Mr. Varnell, who run the website www.equalmarriage.ca, the distinction between advocacy and partisan politics is artificial.
"Our website is completely self-funded," Mr. Bourassa said.
"We are not a charity, because fighting for our Charter of Rights is considered by the government to be advocacy. What is the difference between fighting for equality and fighting against equality? There's none." Currently, groups promoting human rights, the environment and peace are not considered charities. The rules should be changed to reflect the needs of civil society -- needs that were not present 400 years ago, Ms. Greene said.
Any new rules will need to keep faith and politics separate to satisfy Mr. Bourassa, who is a member of Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto.
"During the last election, my church removed all linkages to political non-charitable groups that were fighting for same-sex marriage from their website because of the political implications and the tax implications," Mr. Bourassa said.
And he intends to make other churches follow the same path.
"There are charitable activities that are legitimate within faith communities," he said.
"Political activities are not charitable activities."
© The Ottawa Citizen 2005
bu bye Canada.
Gay activists only seek to destroy. What good has come from gay activism? Churches on the other hand generally seek to benefit society in some fashion. All gay groups do is focus on themselves like a bunch of narcisists and try tearing down social structures they don't like.
Not paying taxes is not the same as recieving taxpayer dollars. One is an exemption, and the other is a subsidy.
This is what the homosexuals are doing to attack the boyscouts for not giving homosexuals access to recruiting young boys.
It seems to me that by demanding a religion comply with government endorsed morality, they have established a religion of the state.
IOW, approved religions must believe this, this and this or they will not be allowed to freely exercise.
"We have a problem with the Canadian government funding that bigotry."
EXCUSE ME !? AM I OR AM I NOT ALREADY SUBSIDIZING HOMO-SEX BECAUSE CIVIL UNIONS ARE LEGAL,THEREFORE TAX PAYER SPOUSAL BENEFITS ARE GOING INTO THEIR PCOKETS?
WANNA BUTT-SLAM YOUR BUDDY IN YOUR BEDROOM? GO AHEAD,JUST DON`T ASK ME TO SUBSIDIZE OR ACCEPT IT.
SICK HETEROPHOBES , THEY NEED THERAPY.
Welcome to FR today.
Those hypocrites should shut their mouth; they are a taxpayer-funded group and they are bigots themselves.
Sponsors of their parent group EGALE Canada: http://www.egale.ca/index.asp?lang=E&item=113
#1 sponsor: Heritage Canada (federal taxpayers).
Status of Women Canada, Ontario Trillium Foundation and Canada's Digital Collections are also taxpayer-funded.
Besides, the conservative churches are NOT at all subsidized, instead they are just tax-exempt.
No free speech for churches...
Isn't it funny how Leftist 501(c) tax-exempt corporations get both?
Why doesn't the gay community, instead of trying to destroy traditions which have evolved over many centuries, start up their own church and apply for tax exempt status. They could elect their own Grand Gay Guru, design their own gay wedding ceremonies, and maybe even come up with some traditions that the straight community never even thought of. The truth is that we're not all the same and the straight community isn't interested in denying rights to the gay community ... what we're interested in is protecting the institution of marriage. Start your own church ... leave us alone.
They already have that. It is called the United Church of Canada and the Metropolitan Community Church.
Well, then they should give it a rest. I'm up to here with them. (pointing to my throat with my fingers extended out straight).
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