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IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector

The LA Times reports that the IRS has sent a warning letter to a church with a vocal anti-war rector, threatening to rescind its tax exempt status. Crooks and Liars , Seeing the Forest and Cookie Jill at Skippy have more.

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  • Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    From Americablog: Here's the phone number for the IRS' national media office, since we are media and all: 202-622-4000. Tell them you're looking forward to their investigating the Catholic Church's tax status, or do they only go after liberal churches And here's the chief counsel's office: 202-622-3300

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    I wonder if Pat Robertson got a letter when he called for the assasination of Hugo Chavez?

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#3)
    by Lww on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    Hey Nik, I think the Catholics are much against this war. Nice try. I'm just a tad curious whats preached in the synagogues these days? Someone in the know please tell me. Where are we supposed to get the money to pay for this war? We need to squeeze. Damn religious nuts again!

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    Bush's simple minded "You're either with us or you're against us" rhetoric is a sure fire way to win friends and influence people, and has really impressed the Christian Science Monitor in the past as well:
    To some, the with-us-or-against-us smacks of Stalinism. They say it muzzles domestic critics and squelches dissent from those abroad who fear repercussions from the world's economic and military superpower. The president's good-versus-evil rhetoric also denies shades of gray, says Richard Falk, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University. Such language "implies too much clarity in a world that's much messier than that," he says. "It shows a lack of respect...


    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    How does this compare with: Democrats back church IRS probe Churches threatened with IRC complaints if they support marriage ammendment Americans United files complaint with IRS over Catholic bishop's "campaigning" IRS and Pulpit Politics (from 1998) Debating Politics in the Pulpit - Money quote: "Last year, the IRS said it was investigating 60 nonprofit organizations to determine whether they had crossed the campaigning line, and roughly a third were believed to be churches, according to conservative organizations following the issue. " This is hardly a new issue. Non-profits are prohibited, by law, from political campaigning and churches do not receive special protection in this matter.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    This doesn't seem like politics to me...simply one of the tenets of the religion..."Thou shall not kill" The government letter, on the other hand, is all politics.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    M Heinz, well said. The NPO status of churches should be lifted immediately and they should pay taxes like the rest of us business owners.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#8)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    LWW, the catholic church in many instances refused communion to kerry, and many catholic churches refused communion to any kerry supporters. Check out this link from beliefnet and see if you don't think the IRS is being selective in who the prosecute.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    This link is to a photo I took Saturday night in St. Patrick's Church on Mission Street in downtown San Francisco. I went to a friend's wedding and was greeted at the entrance by two bulletin boards, one on each side of the door prominently displaying "YES ON [PROPOSITION] 73" signs. This was clearly in violation of this section of their OWN DARN RULES:
    Signs on Church Property. Placement of political signs is essentially an attribution issue. With the exception of polling places (see “Polling Places” above), political signs should not be placed on property owned by Catholic organizations or rented by Catholic organizations for official business. Section 501(c)(3) does not prohibit the placement of political signs on the personally-owned property of Church officials or employees.
    I'm pretty sure those boards were nobody's personal property but Jesus. I emailed the church but haven't heard back yet, and I'm sure I won't.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#10)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    Jlvngstn has it. Since there is a separation of church and state, then churches should pay taxes like the rest of us.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#11)
    by desertswine on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    churches should pay taxes like the rest of us
    Tax them. All of them. They're just businesses.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:48 PM EST
    This Ruined my Morning!!!! It wasn't just reading this article, it was seeing TWO COLUMNS NEXT TO IT, also on the front page of the Los Angeles times was this article: It says that California churches are serving as a place where proponents of the California Proposition (being voted on tomorrow in Schwarzenegger's abominable special election) requiring parental notification for minors to receive an abortion are pushing for the proposition to be passed. The hypocrisy! I just heard the Young Turks radio show is going to be blasting the Republican's exploitation of the IRS next: http://www.radiopower.org/talkradio/, if that pisses you off as much as it does me.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    desertswine said...
    Tax them. All of them. They're just businesses. Seeing how I'm the treasurer of an inner city church that hosts a homeless shelter, an after school program for latino youth, a program for retired people, and (off and on) two different narcotics anonymous chapters, I'm curious to know what business you think we're in, desertswine. It's certainly not making a profit, we've been fighting the slow erosion of our endowment for the past 20 years.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#14)
    by Lww on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    KellyK, barbarians at the gates? So that ruined your morning seeing a few news articles you didn't appreciate? Boo fing hoo. The schools can't distribute an aspirin but you want abortion on demand for kids? Logical to me. You must get happier when you read in the morning paper the abortion tally is up. God help ya.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    LWW, And you must be happy when you read in the paper each day that more soldiers have died in Iraq! Hey, it may be a bullsh*t nonsense attack, but it makes as much sense as what you said. Would you care to explain why you think churches should use our tax dollars to provide free campaign advertising for politicians? And, if you insist on going there, would you like to explain why you support laws that wouldn't reduce abortions but would end up in the deaths of more women? Or do you just prefer to act like an a$$?

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#16)
    by Lww on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    This is a clear case of the state usurping parental rights. That's my job. I have four daughters and I couldn't imagine one of them(I'm down to one minor) having an abortion without me knowing about it. In my family it would work to talk about it. God forbid my minor daughter had an abortion without notification and something went wrong? PS: I've been against the war from day one.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    OK, I'll tone down the snark. Hey, I'm 100% with you on believing that kids should talk to their parents, especially when it's a biggie like a pregnancy. If it were my daughter, I'd want to know. But what's the best solution? You see the status quo as the state intervening to prevent a daughter from talking to her parents (the anti-73 people). That's simply not the case. If a girl goes to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test, they'll urge her to talk to her parents before making a decision. But not all daughters are equally lucky in their parents. And if Proposition 73 happens, they are the ones who will suffer, not your kids (I'm presuming you have a good relationship with them.) If they already don't feel safe letting their parents know what happened, how is this law going to protect them? (Yes, I know there's supposed to be a provision about this where teens can petition for an exception, but it's still up to the judge, and all judges are not created alike.) Fact is, the only people asking the state to get involved in this very personal tragic matter... are the people supporting this law. Oh, and one more thing. If this is only about making sure families communicate well and parents know when their kids are having medical procedures... what's with amending the state constitution to add a line defining abortion as "causing the death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born"? If this was purely about medical procedures for minors in general, surely this wouldn't be necessary?

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    M Heinz: I believe the Vatican is a business. I believe the Red Cross and Salvation Army and YMCA/YWCA do a pretty good job at helping the homeless, the inner city youths, those affected by natural disasters without supporting any one religious denomination or another. the business of the church is spreading its message, and if the church wants to spread its message via "after school programs" that include religious indoctrinations, than they should have to pay taxes. As someone who group up in the inner city, and who volunteers in the inner city, and who gives 10% to non-religious NPO's to help those in need without a condition of religious dogma, I say yours is a business and should be taxed just like mine.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    Jlvngstn, Last time I checked, the Red Cross and Salvation Army do not pay taxes. Next - you really need to check your facts - the Salvation Army is, in fact, a religious organization. Where do think the "Salvation" part comes from? Finally, I'm really confused how providing a safe haven to kids who are neither members of my church or my religion constitutes "indoctrination". I'm still waiting for someone to explain where my profit is supposed to come from. We have three part time staff who make (IIRC) less than $200 per week each one full time employee who makes lower-middle class wages and the rest of us are volunteers. Who, exactly, do you believe is getting rich here?

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    Jlvngstn, I'd also like to ask you what "YMCA" and "YWCA" stand for - you seem to have a very odd idea of what constitutes a "non-religious" organization.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Heinz, I know where the Salvation comes from, as do I know what the C means. However, there is little if any indoctrination or espousing of christian beliefs toward members or those seeking assistance from those organizations. Of course they do not pay taxes, I never said they did. Only that they give without a hook. They give without a mandatory jesus reading or advertisement for their religious beliefs. So the giving by any church that includes any form of indoctrination makes them a business in my book. You are basically trying to get someone to prescribe to your faith or doctrine, to attend your services, to serve your church or god. I don't care if you are getting "rich" or not, and your argument is that your church gives back to the community. Does giving back to the community mean you deserve tax exempt status? If so, than i deserve tax exempt status also. Only difference is, i am not trying to indoctrinate those that i give to. I am all for organizations that provide relief and support without conditions. Doctors without borders for example. No religious indoctrination there, just helping those that need help, period. Really, I don't care in the slightest what the employees are making, that is their decision to work for that wage. What I care about is a system that grants Benny Hinn and his ilk tax exempt status.....

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Just curious Heinz, when was the last time you or someone you know received help from the Y or SA, and what religious doctrine you were exposed to? Because as someone that got assistance from both as a child, I never ONCE heard about jesus or the bible from any of them. However, the local church food pantry was more than happy to dispense food to the underprivileged if they would attend services, etc....

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Lastly, reading is a skill, read this again and please inform me where i say they are not religious organizations: "Salvation Army and YMCA/YWCA do a pretty good job at helping the homeless, the inner city youths, those affected by natural disasters without supporting any one religious denomination or another."

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Jlvngstn, I'm still waiting for you to explain exactly what business my church is in, or to offer a shred of evidence that we indoctrinate people who make use of our facilities. Here's a hint: The latinos who make use of our facilities are traditionally catholic. That hasn't stopped us from letting them use our building. We don't ask the homeless if they've been baptized before we feed them. Nor do we demand that the seniors who meet in our basement comply with some sort of doctrine before we let them eat lunch. You really need to lighten up on the hate and stop stereotyping people you've never met.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#25)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Oh, and as for the Salvation Army not indoctrinating anyone - http://www.nyclu.org/salvation_army_pr_022404.html "NYCLU Sues Salvation Army For Religious Discrimination Against Employees In Government Funded Social Services For Children" You also might want to read the mission statements of various YMCAs: "The YMCA of Greater Providence is guided by a strongly held sense of mission and values. The mission - to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all – is at the forefront of all we do."

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#26)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Heinz, I stand by my assertions. the Salvation Army has Jesus all over its website, so what? They give freely without indoctrination, of course there are exceptions. Why am I "hating"? I mentioned the Y and the SA because they were christian founded and do not try to convert etc. Your argument is that you should not be taxed because you give back to the community. Stupid argument. I give back yet my company has to pay taxes. Try to take your head out of your arse and stick to your argument. If your argument is that your employees are not getting rich, than McDonalds has a right not to pay taxes. If your argument is that the church opens its gym up to disadvantaged kids, than every person or company that opens their home up or donates to those families should be eligible. Your church collects tithes to pay its staff, pay its rent etc. The church as a CEO (Pastor/priest) and other employees that manage its finances etc. There is no reason they should be exempt from taxes. Pretty simple to me.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#27)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    As an aside, could your church not do any of those things if it paid taxes? Or is it just that you think Benny Hinn does a great public service and it shouldn't matter?

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#28)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    My argument is not that we should not be taxed because we give the community - my argument is that we should be treated no differently than any other non-profit. Again and again I have asked you to explain what sort of profit making enterprise you think we are in. Again and again you evade the question. Why, exactly, should my church give up $30k of our annual $100k of gross income to the government when the YMCA and the Salvation Army do not?

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#29)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Oh, and I wish we *had* a gym.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Does the church have employees? Is it selling their brand of religion? Those two make it enough for me. Although according to Oliver Wendell Holmes, "one page of history is worth more than 400 of opinion" (or something to that effect) so the taxation issue is not going to happen, let alone even be broached because it would be career suicide by a politician. So our argument is mostly empty rhetoric. That said, you still have not linked the Y or SA with any particular denomination (although I guess one could argue protestant under the larger umbrella) and they do a reasonably good job of providing services to those in need. Of course most of my money goes to Doc w/o borders and to the public school system in my city but that is my personal choice. Profit is subjective. There are no standards as to what proper compensation is for their employees, i.e. pastors pay. There are no standards for dispursement of proceeds, which of course means that a church can technically spend as much as they like on housing and wages etc. If there are no standards, see Benny Hinn, where is the accountability that every church is operating under the not for profit umbrella? Who is to say that the clergy et al are not living profitably? Sorry you do not have a gym, that really helps bring kids in. Worked in my hood as a yute and we appreciated the cover from the element. That said, I still think that no taxation is ridiculous.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#31)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Does the church have employees? Is it selling their brand of religion? ... Who is to say that the clergy et al are not living profitably? Again, how is this different from any other non-profit corporation? Ah. I see. So, really, this all comes down to how you don't like religion. It doesn't matter that a church is a legal entity no different from NPR, the United Way, an art museum or a private school. It doesn't matter that the Salvation Army was founded by a minister for the explicit purpose of preaching to the "unchurched" and is widely considered to be a mainline Protestant denomination - because my organization actually calls themselves a "church" you believe we are actually dedicated to selling snake oil to suckers and should be taxed as such. Sigh. I'm disappointed in you. You cling to your stereotypes as strongly as any red-neck cracker and it's all because you're hung up on a single word.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#32)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    By the way - You apparently seem intent on judging me based on a guy named Benny Hinn - who I'd never heard of until I googled for him just now. Since you apparently believe I should be judged according to the behavior and well of Mr. Hinn, do you also believe all women should be judged by the behavior of Martha Stewart? Should all politicians be condemned because of Bush? I have as much in common with Hinn as I do with Bill Gates; and my organization bears no more similarity to Hinn's church than my house does to Gates' mansion.

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#33)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:50 PM EST
    Heinz. You are very liberal with your assessments about hatred and causation for my arguments. As long as we are casting disparaging remarks, I am obligated to say that your finger pointing is a very obvious demonstration of insecurity and maturity. Surely Christ would have not reasoned his arguments with "why do you hate america".. As for the Red Cross, SA or Y, they are audited continuously to monitor their finances and distribution of equity. Churches are not. Benny Hinn is an easy target for gross manipulation of the church taxation policy, certainly not the standard. When all churches are held to a standard of acceptable of financial practices and distribution of equity similar to those of the audited world of NPO's, I will be more inclined to accept their taxation status. In the interim, I will operate under the assumption that there is no standardized system of fiscal equity and that their operations should be taxed. Of course, if Jesus were here today I believe he would say something like "render unto ceasar what is ceasars....."

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#34)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:51 PM EST
    Perhaps reading is tough on ya: You asked: Again, how is this different from any other non-profit corporation? I answered this unprompted previously: Profit is subjective. There are no standards as to what proper compensation is for their employees, i.e. pastors pay. There are no standards for dispursement of proceeds, which of course means that a church can technically spend as much as they like on housing and wages etc. If there are no standards, see Benny Hinn, where is the accountability that every church is operating under the not for profit umbrella? Who is to say that the clergy et al are not living profitably?

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#35)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:51 PM EST
    I answered this unprompted previously That does not answer the question of how a street-corner church is different from the Salvation Army. Every one of your points could, and has been, applied to the Salvation Army, the United Way and other charities. So, again, how is a church different from other non-profits? As for the Red Cross, SA or Y, they are audited continuously to monitor their finances and distribution of equity. Ummm.... again *HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT* I sign the quarterly tax statements we file with the IRS, and we are subject to the exact same legal standards as any other non-profit entity. And, again, you avoided the point that the SA is, in fact, a church just like mine. If, for some reason, you don't believe me I would suggest that google is your friend. So why should the SA be subject to fewer legal restrictions than we are? Finally, as far as rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's - of course. And, in fact, the money I earn from my day job is taxed just like anyone else's. How, then is it fair, that money I take out of my pocket and hand over for the care of the homeless, the shelter of children and help for the addict should be taxed a second time because the organization doing these things also has a religious point of view? Heinz. You are very liberal with your assessments about hatred and causation for my arguments. Can I ask you a question? Why do you keep using my last name that way? As for "liberal assessments about hatred and causation" which of us is tarring an entire class of people because he doesn't like the behavior of a few of them?

    Re: IRS Warns Church With Anti-War Rector (none / 0) (#36)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:52 PM EST
    Who is tarring them? Your church is a business, with employees and a budget and in the business of selling god. This is not hard for me, nor is it a leap to call it a business. Your philanthropic work is no greater than mine, or many other business owners who give back to their communities. Ask Bill Gates about giving. All of the non-profits are audited for dispensation of funds, all all 100,000 churches in this country audited by INDEPENDENT firms to verify that they are non profit? Of course not. Transparency to the general public not members, not congregants etc, but to the general public is something that the 100,000+ churches in this country are not providing. Where are the checks and balances and standards as to what are norms for compensation and expenses? It is not just Benny Hinn, what about the poster boy for selling jesus, Pat Robertson? What about Tilden? What about the catholic church? On and on and on. Can you read? That said, you still have not linked the Y or SA with any particular denomination (although I guess one could argue protestant under the larger umbrella you google and SA and you get this: The Salvation Army is a worldwide religious denomination and philanthropical organization. Its innovative methods, especially in inner cities, have influenced evangelical and charitable work throughout the world and in numerous religious denominations. SA falls under a wide umbrella of denomination, in fact they claim their own. I could have stayed with Doc w/o Borders and Red Cross but threw you a bone with SA and the Y. When there is a standard and public accounting for churches, perhaps they may be deemed as taxation free "worthy", until then, RENDER UNTO CEASAR. Lastly, please get over your philanthropy, lots of folks do it, church members or not....