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Subject: Interesting Pew Forum survey on Churches and Politics rss

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Jon Badolato
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http://www.pewforum.org/files/2016/08/Politics-in-Churches-F...

It doesn't surprise me that church leaders discuss politics and social concerns with their members. In all reality it is often difficult to separate the two. What is disconcerting is this:

Fewer recent churchgoers (14%) say they heard their clergy speak directly in support of or against a specific presidential candidate in the months leading up to the survey. Black Protestants were particularly likely to hear this type of message: Among black Protestants who have been in church recently, roughly three-in-ten (29%) have heard clergy speak out in support of a candidate – mostly Hillary Clinton – and an equal share have heard religious leaders speak out against a candidate (primarily Donald Trump). Smaller shares of Catholic, white evangelical Protestant and white mainline Protestant churchgoers – roughly one-in-ten or fewer – say their clergy have publicly supported or opposed particular candidates.


Speaking for or against a specific political candidate from the pulpit is forbidden, but since enforcement is notoriously lax a fair percentage of them do it anyway. That's wrong regardless of they are endorsing.
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Sam I am
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Looks like another opportunity to review tax exempt status.
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Adrian Hague
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jonb wrote:
Speaking for or against a specific political candidate from the pulpit is forbidden...


Not that I doubt your word Jon, but what's the basis for this?
 
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Jon Badolato
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AdrianPHague wrote:
jonb wrote:
Speaking for or against a specific political candidate from the pulpit is forbidden...


Not that I doubt your word Jon, but what's the basis for this?


The IRS tax code forbids such involvement for churches as it could impact their tax exempt status. See here:



https://www.irs.gov/uac/election-year-activities-and-the-pro...

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Matthew Schoell
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AdrianPHague wrote:
jonb wrote:
Speaking for or against a specific political candidate from the pulpit is forbidden...


Not that I doubt your word Jon, but what's the basis for this?


It's not forbidden, as in there is a penalty for the speech. There is an agreement in place that tax exemption requires a church and it's clergy to refrain from using services to promote candidates, however. There has been, functionally, zero enforcement of that rule that I am aware of.
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Moshe Callen
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Please. Politics from the pulpit predates the US as a country. It's so-called revolution or war for independence was preached from the pulpit.
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Jon Badolato
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whac3 wrote:
Please. Politics from the pulpit predates the US as a country. It's so-called revolution or war for independence was preached from the pulpit.


Personally, I'd be ok with churches politically endorsing a politician, but then I think they should lose their tax exempt status in so doing.
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When looking for churches, my wife and I tried several, and we had a rule that if they started preaching politics or intolerance we were out. We went through several, but we eventually found one we liked.

"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s"

I don't like my chocolate in my peanut butter.
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Moshe Callen
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jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Please. Politics from the pulpit predates the US as a country. It's so-called revolution or war for independence was preached from the pulpit.


Personally, I'd be ok with churches politically endorsing a politician, but then I think they should lose their tax exempt status in so doing.

Why? How many of the Federalist and anti-Federalist papers are in fact sermons? How many preachers spoke out for war with Britain? How many endorsed Lincoln?-- Lots.
 
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Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.
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Jon Badolato
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whac3 wrote:
jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Please. Politics from the pulpit predates the US as a country. It's so-called revolution or war for independence was preached from the pulpit.


Personally, I'd be ok with churches politically endorsing a politician, but then I think they should lose their tax exempt status in so doing.

Why? How many of the Federalist and anti-Federalist papers are in fact sermons? How many preachers spoke out for war with Britain? How many endorsed Lincoln?-- Lots.


Because I believe it's a bad precedent to set in a country where constitutionally church and state are separated. Because it would likely give an unfair advantage to larger more economically rich churches over smaller less economically sound ones in the political arena. Because it opens up chances for abuse in our current political system where an endorsement of a candidate is usually expected to be followed by political favors from that candidate should they happen to win. Because it allows them tax exempt status that wouldn't necessarily be allowed for other types of organizations that are political in nature as well but that aren't churches.
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Moshe Callen
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jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Please. Politics from the pulpit predates the US as a country. It's so-called revolution or war for independence was preached from the pulpit.


Personally, I'd be ok with churches politically endorsing a politician, but then I think they should lose their tax exempt status in so doing.

Why? How many of the Federalist and anti-Federalist papers are in fact sermons? How many preachers spoke out for war with Britain? How many endorsed Lincoln?-- Lots.


Because I believe it's a bad precedent to set in a country where constitutionally church and state are separated. Because it would likely give an unfair advantage to larger more economically rich churches over smaller less economically sound ones in the political arena. Because it opens up chances for abuse in our current political system where an endorsement of a candidate is usually expected to be followed by political favors from that candidate should they happen to win. Because it allows them tax exempt status that wouldn't necessarily be allowed for other types of organizations that are political in nature as well but that aren't churches.

That precedent was already set centuries ago.
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Jon Badolato
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whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


The current IRS regulations clearly require that churches not endorse political candidates to remain tax exempt. According to the Pew data I posted anywhere between ten and thirty percent of church goers stated that their religious leader endorsed a particular candidate. It's a violation of the regulations on tax exemption. If churches dislike the rule they can seek to have their constituents push for change. But I am. Or alone in not wanting church involvement in politics:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/08/16/most-america...

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Matthew Schoell
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whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


It doesn't follow to me that because you are a fount of free speech that this should result in a tax exemption. A newspaper or magazine would arguably be able to make that claim. Probably every college/university would like a run at that too.
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Moshe Callen
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jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


The current IRS regulations clearly require that churches not endorse political candidates to remain tax exempt. According to the Pew data I posted anywhere between ten and thirty percent of church goers stated that their religious leader endorsed a particular candidate. It's a violation of the regulations on tax exemption. If churches dislike the rule they can seek to have their constituents push for change. But I am. Or alone in not wanting church involvement in politics:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/08/16/most-america...


Yes, I personally think those restrictions would or at least should be found unconstitutional if challenged in court.
 
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whac3 wrote:

That precedent was already set centuries ago.


And for the most part, most industrial nations(minus the puritanical America) got over it. And while we are having a hard time coming to terms with it, we actually built in that separation into our own coded laws.

Secularism is something I think we should strive for as a nation, The historical "precedent" has never worked well.
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Moshe Callen
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Doc Mage wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


It doesn't follow to me that because you are a fount of free speech that this should result in a tax exemption. A newspaper or magazine would arguably be able to make that claim. Probably every college/university would like a run at that too.

I understand but the framers of the constitution looked at history to determine taxing of churches etc as a known means of squashing free speech. Therefore they forbade it.
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MWChapel wrote:
…Secularism is something I think we should strive for as a nation, The historical "precedent" has never worked well.

I was going to ask why to the first part but the second is a reason, albeit a vague one. Why do you think it hasn't worked? I'd say the abolition of slavery is one of many proofs that it has.
 
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Matthew Schoell
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whac3 wrote:
Doc Mage wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


It doesn't follow to me that because you are a fount of free speech that this should result in a tax exemption. A newspaper or magazine would arguably be able to make that claim. Probably every college/university would like a run at that too.

I understand but the framers of the constitution looked at history to determine taxing of churches etc as a known means of squashing free speech. Therefore they forbade it.


Is their evidence of it being a conscious choice, and not continuing a long standing tradition?
 
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Christopher Seguin
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Doc Mage wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


It doesn't follow to me that because you are a fount of free speech that this should result in a tax exemption. A newspaper or magazine would arguably be able to make that claim. Probably every college/university would like a run at that too.


And colleges and universities are tax-exempt as well.

Newspapers are a little different because they allow "advertising", which could taint their stance as a "beacon of free speech" that the churches and the universities enjoy.

However, in the case of say, Consumer Reports, they are a tax-exempt organization. And they don't take advertisements.

See how that works?
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Jon Badolato
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whac3 wrote:
jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


The current IRS regulations clearly require that churches not endorse political candidates to remain tax exempt. According to the Pew data I posted anywhere between ten and thirty percent of church goers stated that their religious leader endorsed a particular candidate. It's a violation of the regulations on tax exemption. If churches dislike the rule they can seek to have their constituents push for change. But I am. Or alone in not wanting church involvement in politics:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/08/16/most-america...


Yes, I personally think those restrictions would or at least should be found unconstitutional if challenged in court.


I can respect your opinion that they should be found unconstitutional, but highly doubt that will ever be the case. In a country that constitutionally requires separation of church and state that can best be accomplished through such regulations meant to deter church involvement in the political arena.
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Christopher Seguin
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jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Please. Politics from the pulpit predates the US as a country. It's so-called revolution or war for independence was preached from the pulpit.


Personally, I'd be ok with churches politically endorsing a politician, but then I think they should lose their tax exempt status in so doing.


Works for me!

Feel free to shut down 30% of the black churches as tax-exempt "churches" and 10% of the Catholic and white mainline protestant churches while you are at it. I will concede 10% of the fundamentalist protestant churches in return.

Demographically, this means less Hillary voters, which means she won't win in November! Come on, we can do this - we have three months to get the word out!

No preaching from the pulpit! Do you hear that, AME churches and Catholic churches and PCUSA churches and UCC churches! Stop telling your members to "Vote Democrat!"

Trump wins, Trump wins!
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Moshe Callen
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Doc Mage wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Doc Mage wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


It doesn't follow to me that because you are a fount of free speech that this should result in a tax exemption. A newspaper or magazine would arguably be able to make that claim. Probably every college/university would like a run at that too.

I understand but the framers of the constitution looked at history to determine taxing of churches etc as a known means of squashing free speech. Therefore they forbade it.


Is their evidence of it being a conscious choice, and not continuing a long standing tradition?

I've never looked into myself but would be greatly surprised if the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers did not thoroughly cover the subject.
 
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jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


The current IRS regulations clearly require that churches not endorse political candidates to remain tax exempt. According to the Pew data I posted anywhere between ten and thirty percent of church goers stated that their religious leader endorsed a particular candidate. It's a violation of the regulations on tax exemption. If churches dislike the rule they can seek to have their constituents push for change. But I am. Or alone in not wanting church involvement in politics:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/08/16/most-america...


Yes, I personally think those restrictions would or at least should be found unconstitutional if challenged in court.


I can respect your opinion that they should be found unconstitutional, but highly doubt that will ever be the case. In a country that constitutionally requires separation of church and state that can best be accomplished through such regulations meant to deter church involvement in the political arena.

The idea that political speech from religious institutions or their representatives violates separation of "church" and state is patently absurd.
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whac3 wrote:
jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
jonb wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Churches etc have tax exemptions constitutionally not because they help the poor but because they are founts of free speech, including political speech.


The current IRS regulations clearly require that churches not endorse political candidates to remain tax exempt. According to the Pew data I posted anywhere between ten and thirty percent of church goers stated that their religious leader endorsed a particular candidate. It's a violation of the regulations on tax exemption. If churches dislike the rule they can seek to have their constituents push for change. But I am. Or alone in not wanting church involvement in politics:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/08/16/most-america...


Yes, I personally think those restrictions would or at least should be found unconstitutional if challenged in court.


I can respect your opinion that they should be found unconstitutional, but highly doubt that will ever be the case. In a country that constitutionally requires separation of church and state that can best be accomplished through such regulations meant to deter church involvement in the political arena.

The idea that political speech from religious institutions or their representatives violates separation of "church" and state is patently absurd.

Political speech from Churches is fine, but they shouldn't be able to ignore rules that other types of organizations are required to abide by, in order to get the tax exempt benefits.
 
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