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IRS Threatens Political Speech
US House ^ | 24 Jul | Congressman Ron Paul

Posted on 07/27/2006 8:20:43 AM PDT by xzins

Five years ago, I wrote about threats made by the Internal Revenue Service against conservative churches for supposedly engaging in politicking. Today, the IRS is again attempting to chill free speech, sending notices to more than 15,000 non-profit organizations—including churches—regarding its new crackdown on political activity.

But what exactly constitutes political activity? What if a member of the clergy urges his congregation to work toward creating a pro-life culture, when an upcoming election features a pro-life candidate? What if a minister admonishes churchgoers that homosexuality is sinful, when an initiative banning gay marriage is on an upcoming ballot? Where exactly do we draw the line, and when does the IRS begin to violate the First amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion?

I agree with my colleague Walter Jones of North Carolina that the political views of any particular church or its members are none of the government’s business. Congressman Jones introduced legislation that addresses this very serious issue of IRS harassment of churches engaging in conservative political activity. This bill is badly needed to end the IRS practice of threatening certain politically disfavored faiths with loss of their tax-exempt status, while ignoring the very open and public political activities of other churches. While some well-known leftist preachers routinely advocate socialism from the pulpit, many conservative Christian and Jewish congregations cannot present their political beliefs without risking scrutiny from the tax collector.

The supposed motivation behind the ban on political participation by churches is the need to maintain a rigid separation between church and state. However, the First amendment simply prohibits the federal government from passing laws that establish religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion. There certainly is no mention of any "separation of church and state," yet lawmakers and judges continually assert this mythical doctrine.

The result is court rulings and laws that separate citizens from their religious beliefs in all public settings, in clear violation of the free exercise clause. Our Founders never envisioned a rigidly secular public society, where people must nonsensically disregard their deeply held beliefs in all matters of government and politics. They certainly never imagined that the federal government would actively work to chill the political activities of some churches.

Speech is speech, regardless of the setting. There is no legal distinction between religious expression and political expression; both are equally protected by the First amendment. Religious believers do not drop their political opinions at the door of their place of worship, nor do they disregard their faith at the ballot box. Religious morality will always inform the voting choices of Americans of all faiths.

The political left, however, seeks to impose the viewpoint that public life must be secular, and that government cannot reflect morality derived from faith. Many Democrats, not all, are threatened by strong religious institutions because they want an ever-growing federal government to serve as the unchallenged authority in our society. So the real motivation behind the insistence on a separation of church and state is not based on respect for the First amendment, but rather on a desire to diminish the influence of religious conservatives at the ballot box.

The Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom must not depend on the whims of IRS bureaucrats. Religious institutions cannot freely preach their beliefs if they must fear that the government will accuse them of "politics." We cannot allow churches to be silenced any more than we can allow political dissent in general to be silenced. Free societies always have strong, independent institutions that are not afraid to challenge and criticize the government.


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1stamendment; churchandstate; elections; firstamendment; freeexercise; freespeech; govwatch; irs; scotus; taxes
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1 posted on 07/27/2006 8:20:45 AM PDT by xzins
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To: P-Marlowe; jude24; OrthodoxPresbyterian; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands; Alamo-Girl; PatrickHenry
Speech is speech, regardless of the setting. There is no legal distinction between religious expression and political expression; both are equally protected by the First amendment. Religious believers do not drop their political opinions at the door of their place of worship, nor do they disregard their faith at the ballot box. Religious morality will always inform the voting choices of Americans of all faiths.

Starting to get to the heart of the issue.

The heart of the issue is that the government shouldn't be in the business of taking anything that belongs to God.

2 posted on 07/27/2006 8:23:20 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: xzins
The supposed motivation behind the ban on political participation by churches is the need to maintain a rigid separation between church and state

If that's the case, then why are the IRS regs re: electioneering applicable to all 501(c)(3) non-profits, not just churches?

There is no "right" to tax-exempt status. If you accept it, you know full well what you're getting yourself into.

There's a real simple solution to all of this for churches -- abandon their tax-exempt status & electioneer as much as they want. Some conservative churches have done just that so they don't have to serve two masters.

3 posted on 07/27/2006 8:28:51 AM PDT by gdani
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To: gdani

Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?


4 posted on 07/27/2006 8:29:59 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: Taxman; ancient_geezer; Principled; EternalVigilance; rwrcpa1; phil_will1; kevkrom; n-tres-ted; ...
Actually, I think the best manner to remove his weapon from the arsenal of the left is NOT to legislate specifically against it, but to remove their power to discriminate using the tax laws.

Passing the FairTax into law for taxation would eliminate their ability to use this threat since income - no matter the source - would not be taxed; only consumer consumption. Churches would then be free to have free speech under the Constitution as originally intended (and not now practiced).

It's time for the FairTax!!!

5 posted on 07/27/2006 8:31:53 AM PDT by pigdog
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To: xzins
Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?

Explain why that's relevant.

6 posted on 07/27/2006 8:33:57 AM PDT by gdani
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To: xzins
"I agree with my colleague Walter Jones of North Carolina that the political views of any particular church or its members are none of the government’s business. "
Perfect. Then abolish the tax-exempt status of that [and other] church[es] and charitable tax exemption for its members and other individuals - and everyone will live happily ever after. [the government would still have a legitimate interest in the activities of places similar to Finsbury mosque in England, though]
7 posted on 07/27/2006 8:34:30 AM PDT by GSlob
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To: xzins
If the church were to organize political volunteers to work on a campaign, I can see an issue. What is said in church should never be a concern of the government.
8 posted on 07/27/2006 8:35:55 AM PDT by pgyanke (Christ embraces sinners; liberals embrace the sin.)
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To: gdani
There is no "right" to tax-exempt status. If you accept it, you know full well what you're getting yourself into.

There's a real simple solution to all of this for churches -- abandon their tax-exempt status & electioneer as much as they want. Some conservative churches have done just that so they don't have to serve two masters.


I disagree.

I think there is a distinct difference in a PAC and a church, and that the pastor/preacher/minister/rabbi has a right, indeed a duty, to call it as he/she sees it.

The tax exempt status is related to churches being charitable organizations. It should not be used for a muzzle and leash.

I do not believe the church should be going door-to-door or manning the phone lines to influence the vote for a candidate, but have not seen that happening either.
9 posted on 07/27/2006 8:37:37 AM PDT by NonLinear (He's dead, Jim)
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To: xzins


It's okay - the American left assured me that the Constitution was never intended for Conservatives. Just themselves.


10 posted on 07/27/2006 8:38:07 AM PDT by Tzimisce (How Would Mohammed Vote? Hillary for President! www.dndorks.com)
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To: gdani

>Which came first, the IRS or the Constitution?
>Explain why that is relevant.<

Explain why it is not.


11 posted on 07/27/2006 8:41:16 AM PDT by Paperdoll
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To: NonLinear
I think there is a distinct difference in a PAC and a church

You're correct. PACs - because of they way they are set up & run - are not subject to these same IRS regs. And nothing to my knowledge prevents a church from reincorporating as a PAC.

12 posted on 07/27/2006 8:41:18 AM PDT by gdani
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To: gdani
There's a real simple solution to all of this for churches -- abandon their tax-exempt status & electioneer as much as they want. Some conservative churches have done just that so they don't have to serve two masters.

As if it were that easy to get out of serving your government master. The government owns you. You are their slave, regardless of which church you attend. Did you think this was a free country or something?

The real answer is for the citizenry to wake up and reclaim their birthright of liberty. Ditching the 16th amendment and abolishing the IRS would be part of that. UNtil that happens, we're just houseslaves, some more happy than others.

13 posted on 07/27/2006 8:42:44 AM PDT by MichiganConservative (Government IS the problem.)
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To: gdani

Why it's relevant?

Who gave the right to free exercise of religion? The IRS?? What did churches do between 1789 and whenever the IRS showed up....apply for 501 status because they just sensed it would come about some day in the future?

The point is, of course, that none of your rights are granted you by men. They come from God. If they didn't, they'd just revoke the 1st amendment some day, and you'd be left talking to your dog for security purposes.

Another question: If I'm giving a hundred bucks as my worship of God, and you beat me up and take half of it away, was I able to worship God as MUCH as I wanted to?


14 posted on 07/27/2006 8:47:09 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Supporting the troops means praying for them to WIN!)
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To: gdani
You're correct. PACs - because of they way they are set up & run - are not subject to these same IRS regs. And nothing to my knowledge prevents a church from reincorporating as a PAC.

I see, life isn't so bad. Our political masters and the overseer class, the bureaucrats, have set up classifications with regulations for our own good. But there are procedures for applying to change your classification so your speech falls under a different set of regulations. Follow their procedures and life is easy and you can say what you want inside the correct classifications, as long as it follows the corresponding regulations of speech. Seems like freedom to me.

15 posted on 07/27/2006 8:48:17 AM PDT by MichiganConservative (Government IS the problem.)
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To: xzins
One of the disappointments of helping to elect PUBS in the executive and legislative branches has been their willingness to support and pass new laws limiting our freedoms. CFR is just the tip of the iceberg.

It is especially frustrating to see the selective enforcement that the career bureaucrats practice.
16 posted on 07/27/2006 8:48:33 AM PDT by wmfights (Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The WAY!)
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To: xzins
Having been a lobbyist I know the difference between overt political influencing and simply sermonizing. While it is OK to talk about issues in the pulpit from a religious perspective, a church hosting a partisan campaign rally or openly campaigning for or against candidates is not permissible. This is true for all 501(c)(3) tax exempt non profits whether they are churches or other organizations.

This part of the tax exempt code is for CHARITIES and the organization must be doing some kind of charitable work to qualify ...hence donations made to 501(c)(3) organizations are deductible from personal income tax.

Note there are some other tax exempt organizations that CAN legally lobby particularly those approved under 501(c)(6)...for example industry trade associations. If an organization wants to lobby and remain exempt from federal income tax they can, but donations to that organization are not tax deductible.

17 posted on 07/27/2006 8:51:15 AM PDT by The Great RJ ("Mir w├Âlle bleiwen wat mir sin" or "We want to remain what we are." ..Luxembourg motto)
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To: gdani
Actually, there's an even better solution as pointed out earlier. Get rid of the present income tax system that allows such control or, alternatively, penalizes those who do not agree with such control.

Pass the FairTax bill as the tax law for the country!! It eliminates the sort of controls mention in the first paragraph of this post. It will also increase purchasing power for almost every taxpayer AND it will greatly boost the economy of the country as well.

18 posted on 07/27/2006 8:53:32 AM PDT by pigdog
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To: gdani

What he said.


19 posted on 07/27/2006 8:54:56 AM PDT by 6ppc
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To: xzins

The IRS is flippin' evil.


20 posted on 07/27/2006 8:55:22 AM PDT by JamesP81 ("Never let your schooling interfere with your education" --Mark Twain)
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