What happened to the separation of Church and State?
Should nonprofits like churches get exemptions to not pay taxes, but use that money to influence public policy? Pay for pastors' lavish lifestyles? What funds do churches pay to settle sexual abuse cases?
"In times of crippling cutbacks to badly needed government services, a new article published by Free Inquiry magazine details how the tax exemptions enjoyed by religious institutions cost the U.S. a staggering $71 billion per year, at the least. Meanwhile, this religious privilege helps to subsidize the lavish homes and lifestyles of numerous clergy on the taxpayers’ dime." - CFI
Consider recent headlines and then check the infographic of the how churches influence politics and what you can do about it.
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Follow the money
Separate Church and State
"... when religion is used for political purposes, it empties religion of its eternal meaning and becomes just one more cynical method of acquiring power.
First Amendment right “… no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced … in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion..." - TIME
"The general argument over why churches do not pay taxes goes like this: If there is a separation of church and state, then the state (or fed) has no right to collect money from the church. In exchange, churches cannot use their clout to influence politics.
Churches do not pay property and federal income taxes (along with a host of others, including reduced rates on for-profit properties and parsonage subsidies) ... church structures and those who work for them use the same public utilities as the rest of us. We donate or tithe for such services; they grow bigger and wealthier while expanding their power, using a considerably small amount of revenue for real-world charitable work." - Big Think
Hold church leaders accountable
"$71 billion dollars a year would not wipe out the current total debt... Yet it would hold church leaders accountable for their political participation, and bring them back to the same level as the ‘rest of us.’
Our current Congress has passed a record number of abortion restrictions. Mormons may be light on charitable givings, yet they have deep pockets for opposing gay marriage. Such ‘culture war’ issues affect policy, and policy is the realm of the state. Telling a woman what she cannot do with her body and stopping two people from partaking in ceremony has nothing to do with charity. If anything, it’s the exact opposite.
Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations - IRS
"Churches and religious organizations, like many other charitable organizations, qualify for exemption from federal income tax under IRC Section 501(c)(3) and are generally eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. To qualify for tax-exempt status, the organization must meet the following requirements:
- the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific or other charitable purposes
- net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder
- no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation
- the organization may not intervene in political campaigns" - IRS
U.S. Loses Over $71 Billion in Religious Tax Exemptions
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The Real Meaning of the Separation of Church and State
Amid calls to #TaxTheChurches – what and how much do US religious organizations not pay the taxman?
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Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations
IRS Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) form
Should women be forced to subsidize groups that push to strip them of their freedom to control their own bodies?
TakeAway: Hold churches accountable for their actions especially when you're paying the bill with your tax dollars.
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