About That Tax-Exempt Status For Churches Now *Open Thread*

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I had a feeling that the recent SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage might have an impact on churches and other religious organizations in terms of their tax-exempt status. Seems I am not alone in that suspicion.

Even before the ruling came down, US Senator Mike Lee and US Rep. Raul Labrador, had raised the same concerns as Legal Insurrection highlights:

Forty-eight hours after the Supreme Court’s monumental gay marriage decision, and progressives are already calling for an end to tax exemptions for churches.

Anticipating the Supreme Court’s eventual ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, Senator Mike Lee and Rep. Raul Labrador introduced the First Amendment Defense Act. The bill would protect religious institutions who, for religious beliefs, do not actively participate in gay wedding ceremonies.

Legal Insurrection provided a good bit of Sen. Lee’s cause for this bill via the Desert News, such as the following: […] But back in April, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli revealed that the implications of the court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges extend far beyond the narrow issue of marriage licenses.

In a brief back and forth about IRS regulations, Justice Samuel Alito asked Solicitor General Verrilli whether religious institutions — including schools — that maintain the traditional definition of marriage would lose their tax-exempt status should the court strike down state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The solicitor general responded: “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is, it is going to be an issue.” […] (Click here to read the rest.)
You know I have written before about the threats against religious freedom in this country, and my concern at what seems to be an increase in those threats. Now, while I personally stand to benefit from this new ruling, I do not think clergy or other religious organizations should be forced to participate in a same sex marriage the same way people should not lose their livelihoods as a result of their religious objections. This country was founded on religious freedom and that is a critical, critical right, one the Government and Courts should not be superseding.

But it seems not everyone feels that way, as this post in The Federalist points out in response to a NY Times piece by Mark Oppenheimer. From The Federalist:

[…] Legal gay marriage is not the endgame for the gay-rights movement. It never was. Moral approval is the endgame. The agenda is not tolerance for different beliefs and lifestyles. The agenda is a demand that everyone get on board with the moral revolution or be punished. That means if you or your church won’t get with the program, then the revolutionaries will endeavor to close you down.

But they aren’t going to say,”We’ll close you down,” in so many words. They will cover it in propaganda that conceals their real aim. They’ll say, as Oppenheimer does, that taxpayers are “subsidizing” churches, that ministers make fat-cat six-figure salaries, and that government should get those rich priests and preachers off the government dole.

Never mind that the average base salary of a full-time senior pastor ranges from $33,000 to $70,000 (source). Never mind that ministers do pay income taxes. Never mind that it is absurd to suggest not paying taxes is a subsidy. Never mind that exemptions do function to keep church and state out of one another’s business. That doesn’t fit the fictional narrative activists wish to advance—that these churches don’t deserve to have their “subsidy” continued in light of their intolerable views on sexuality.

No, the real intent of removing tax-exempt status is to cripple the institutions that continue their dissent from the sexual revolution. When tax exemptions are removed, donors will give far less than they are giving now. Churches will become liable to property taxes. That means that many churches will have to forfeit their property to the government because they won’t be able to afford the taxes they have to pay on it. Many of them wouldn’t be able to pay them now. If donations went down, they would be that much further from being able to pay them. As a result, churches that reside on valuable properties in urban locations would be immediately vulnerable. Eventually, so would everyone else. […] (Click here to read the rest.)

I have to say, I cracked up laughing reading that Oppenheimer thinks that most ministers make such lavish salaries. That is blatantly false. The lack of research by people who write for a (once) storied publication is astonishing.

But I don’t want to get too far from the point made above: the impact of removing tax-exempt status from churches, synagogues, and other religious groups and organizations. It will be devastating.

Mollie Hemmngway, also of The Federalist, had an excellent piece highlighting the dissenting opinions of the four justices who voted against the majority in the SCOTUS decision. It is well worth a read in its entirety, but Justice Alito’s comments on religious freedom speaks volumes. From the Federalist:

[…] Perhaps recognizing how its reasoning may be used, the majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reassure those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected. Ante, at 26–27. We will soon see whether this proves to be true. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.

The system of federalism established by our Constitution provides a way for people with different beliefs to live together in a single nation. If the issue of same-sex marriage had been left to the people of the States, it is likely that some States would recognize same-sex marriage and others would not. It is also possible that some States would tie recognition to protection for conscience rights. The majority today makes that impossible. By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds. Today’s decision will also have a fundamental effect on this Court and its ability to uphold the rule of law. If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate. Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims. […] (Click here to read the rest.)

Regardless of where one comes down on this decision, I think it is clear it will have an impact on clergy and religious organizations, and that most DEFINITELY flies in the face of the Constitution, doesn’t it? Seems that way to me anyway.

What do you think? This is an Open Thread.

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35 Responses to “About That Tax-Exempt Status For Churches Now *Open Thread*”

  1. helenk3 Says:

    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/ali-meyer/attorney-charge-irs-email-production-now-charge-state-dept-emails

    very interesting.
    stalling congressional committees gets you a lot of jobs in DC

  2. helenk3 Says:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/06/supremes_citizenship_not_necessary_for_voter_registration.html

    NO longer need to be a citizen to vote

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      What the HELL???? Since when?? Doesn’t the Constitution make clear that only US Citizens can vote in elections?

  3. helenk3 Says:

    the supreme court made some really damaging decisions this week.
    they took away states rights on obamacare and gay marriage.

    with the decision on low income housing they hurt the building industry and whether or not they thought of it they hurt the cities and states and their tax base.

    with the decision on voting laws they took away the right of CITIZENS to decide on what they want their government to be

    we are living in interesting times

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Yes they did. Apparently, they are following in Bill Clinton’s footsteps in redefining common language (you know, what’s the definition of “is”? Now, the SCOTUS seems unclear on what “States” means even though they are the Supreme Court of the United STATES.).

      “Interesting times,” indeed – more like scary as hell times…

  4. helenk3 Says:

    http://spectator.org/articles/63293/dred-scotting-religious-liberty

    a little bit of history about the supreme court

  5. helenk3 Says:

    way off topic
    http://www.backpacker.com/skills/nature/the-must-see-night-sky-events-of-2015/

    sometimes we need a getaway, even if it is only in our backyard

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      And most appreciated, Helen! I am excited that there will be Orionids Meteor Showers when we are in Montana in October. WOW!!!

  6. helenk3 Says:

    http://canadafreepress.com/article/73347

    come to believe

  7. Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

    Victor Davis Hanson does it again in a great piece abt the impact of the mass hysteria so common these days in our country, and how they impact policies: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/420496/progressive-mass-hysteria

  8. helenk3 Says:

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/06/30/activists-plan-to-burn-american-flags-in-new-york-city-ahead-of-fourth-of-july/

    now this angers me

    spoiled brats plan to burn American flags in NYC ahead of July 4th

    can’t we round them up and drop them in the middle of an isis camp and see how long they survive?

    look at the money we could make on the pool on who makes it the longest. might as well get some use out of them

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Angers me, too. First that they think that disarming the NYPD is at all rational; second that they claim Dylann Roof wasn’t acting alone; three, that people can be so idiotic; and fourth, that they would burn our flag as their method of making a point, not understanding that the only reason they can do this is because they live in the USA. Jackasses.

      • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

        Oh, and if any of these people ever get mugged, or have their homes broken into, or even get into a traffic accident, they better not DARE call the NYPD.

  9. helenk3 Says:

    http://www.weaselzippers.us/227796-opm-shuts-down-background-check-database-over-flaw/

    OPM shuts down background check data base over a FLAW

    close enough for government work?

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Yeah, I saw something abt how they are discovering more problems, sure to impact people’s privacy, I imagine. Ugh.

  10. helenk3 Says:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3143982/Michelle-Obama-promote-education-trips-Japan-Cambodia-UK.html

    wonder if she will go to any muslim countries, where the throw acid in the faces of girls trying to get an education?

    maybe she will not do TOO MUCH harm while out to the country

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Ahahahahahahaha – good one, Helen! Yeah, I am gonna guess she will NOT go to those places. And yes, we have to hope she keeps the harm down to a minimum…

  11. helenk3 Says:

    http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/06/30/court-10-commandments-monument-must-come-down-okla-capitol

    not liking this at all

  12. helenk3 Says:

    http://www.weaselzippers.us/227845-grasping-grifter-the-next-generation-chelsea-clinton-demands-65000-for-10-minute-speech-at-public-university/

    what has she done, that is worth $65.000 for a 10 minute speech?

  13. helenk3 Says:

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Oh, that is good! I swear, what in the world does it take to prove to people that Socialism DOES NOT WORK???? Greece elected this far left Socialist to run their country, doing away with the “austerity” measures to right that sinking ship, but they dumped all that and just kept on spending like drunken sailors. Now they want to default on a $2 billion loan, and not be held responsible for their decisions.

      Huh. Come to think of it, that sounds like a lot of people on the Left in this country…

  14. helenk3 Says:

    http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/06/30/a-black-man-a-white-woman-speak-for-each-other-in-a-powerful-spoken-word-poem/

    though you would like this

  15. helenk3 Says:

    http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/246539-27-states-challenge-obama-water-rule-in-court

    something to watch

  16. helenk3 Says:

    http://eagnews.org/obama-ally-lands-major-healthy-michelle-o-school-lunch-contract/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    no meat for you

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Well, I don’t eat meat anyway (haven’t for 41 yrs), but I love me some seafood and chicken. You think ol’ Michelle would approve? Ahem.

  17. helenk3 Says:

    look up tonight

    https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xft1/v/t1.0-9/11701015_548593698628797_9160516420030281126_n.jpg?oh=052720aabef8abfbb8e003976f2217af&oe=5630738E

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Oh, WOW – that is so cool! We just started getting rain, so I hope it clears up by then.

      Thanks, Helen!

  18. helenk3 Says:

    HOORAY FOR THE USA

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      It was quite a match. They picked a good time to play their best soccer since Germany is ranked #1.Can’t wait to see who they will be facing – Japan plays tonight and they are the reigning World Cup Champions.

      Go, USA!

  19. kenoshamarge Says:

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      Uh huh. That is exactly right. They celebrate this murderous psychopath like he is a BIG hero. Ugh.

  20. Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

    Yeah, abt how awesome Obamacare is – this is just one more nail in the coffin – or would be if we had a SCOTUS not a Supreme Legislator: http://dailycaller.com/2015/07/01/obamacare-co-ops-hid-millions-in-exec-pay-consulting-fees/

    Oh, and I am sure you will be SHOCKED to learn that the worst offender is in – wait for it – CHICAGO.

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