Skip to comments.Gay advocates fight churches' charity status
Posted on 06/14/2005 5:20:55 PM PDT by sionnsar
Institutions fear losing tax breaks if they oppose same-sex unions; Rightly so, gay-rights group says
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.equal marriage.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."
Keep the faith, or keep tax-exempt status.
It's not much of a church if it opts for the latter.
***Equally - or even more - important in the campaign to destroy the conventional family,...***
I totally agree. But the need a civil rights issue to use as a club.
I can imagine a time when a Christian who opposes homosexuality can get about as much traction in a public arena as a "White power" individual does now.
*** Faith and Family must be destroyed to give the masses no alternative to the all-powerful nanny state ***
My friend, I honestly don't see the state behind this. I see it a demonic in nature and an attempt by the spiritual forces of darkness to shut down the gospel and authentic Christian witness in this country (and in the West).
Just as Nazism was outwardly "political" but ultimately a spiritual force that swept over the land.
Sweden, Canada...and Barney Frank introducing again hate crimes legislation for sodomy.
A sad state of affairs.
ooops...I think I sent it to the wrong gidget
Ah, another point we agree on.
Any attack on the family is really an attack on the Holy Trinity.
How is it that a tax exemption means that someone is "at the public trough ... collecting taxpayers' money".
I guess all wealth is really the property of the Almighty State (make the proper obeisance here), and if she deigns to not take some of yours, that's the same as a subsidy?
*** How is it that a tax exemption means that someone is "at the public trough ... collecting taxpayers' money".***
LOL. Yes, one of my sources has been running pretty slow of late.
I would agree that the state bureaucrats probably don't sit around and design a Family Destruction Plan in the same way they design a Whooping Cough Prevention Plan or something. But would you not agree that once the traditional male-breadwinner-female-homemaker family is destroyed, the demand for the state as a surrogate breadwinner, homemaker, parent, doctor and teacher grows, and that the left understands the equation perfectly well?
Homosexual Agenda Ping.
Yup, those pushing so-called "gay" rights want to shut everyone who disagrees with them up. They fight dirty, use deceit, braggadocio, threats, violence and every manner of foul tactics available.
One thought - if gov't spending were reduced drastically, then churches wouldn't be getting fedgov money, and this particular threat would lose its value. Reducing gov spending drastically would eliminate a lot of problems.
Freepmail me if you want on/off this pinglist.
Larry King once expressed it very well. "There is no left wing conspiracy. We don't sit and plot".
The conspiracy is in the immediate understanding of the goals and values of someone one never sat down and talked to, based solely on vague team identification. Ask 3 leftist to plot a bake sale and they'll fail miserably. But ask 3 leftists any sex- or family-related question, and there is an amazing level of unrehearsed unanimity.
***The conspiracy is in the immediate understanding of the goals and values***
But how can this broad unanimity be explained? Is it simply a result of the left's control of education and entertainment?
Behind this groundswell of a-moralism we are witnessing, I see the hand of darkness. I see these people described in the following...
"The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." - 2 Thess
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