Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Politics in the Pulpit This Sunday

And speaking of government regulation and those who are above it all . . .

This Sunday is the day that thirty or so ministers will poke the IRS in the eye by explicitly endorsing from the pulpit candidates for POTUS. The Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that exists to provide legal defense for issues of religious liberty, is organizing the spectacle.

The rationale is that the IRS restricts freedom of speech and religious practice by forbidding churches to give official endorsements to candidates.

SWNID says that's a first-order canard.

The IRS does not restrict the right of churches or pastors to act politically. It simply enforces sensible legislation that forbids political activity by organizations that are authorized to receive donations for which the donors receive charitable tax deductions. Political activity, in the form of soliciting votes, is forbidden to the 501 (c) 3 organization. Partisan activity is taxable.

In other words, any church that wants to tell its members who to vote for can do so. Donors to the church just can't deduct their donations from their incomes on Schedule A, and the church has to make that clear.

Only by seeing a tax deduction for a donation as a constitutional right can this silly display be justified.

We give SWNIDish scorn to everyone connected with this upcoming spectacle for their breathtaking inconsistency: give me my tax deduction, to which I am permanently entitled, but don't tell me what I have to do to maintain it.

We give SWINDish scorn to the same group for their lack of foresight on this issue. If this group of renegades somehow prevailed legally, we would live in a world where every political party would incorporate as a church to enjoy the benefit of tax deductibility for donations given to finance TV ads that accuse the Other Guy of molesting children and stealing from widows.

1 comment:

steve-o said...

Actually, donations to churches without their 501c3 status can still tax deductable on Schedule A depending if the conform to a certain IRS approved criteria.

The real impact in losing the federal recognition would be the congregation's having to pay sales and real estate taxes. This is a substantial benefit, though.

Still, if a congregation feel that supporting a specific candidate is so important, feel free to do so and pay your taxes.