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Pastors Preach Politics, Risk Tax-Exempt Status

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
It seems as if this election is dividing many churches as well.

http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/09...reedom-sunday/
post #2 of 27
The hostess of "As It Happens" on CBC last evening was interviewing a minister from the US on this subject. He felt he had as much right to his opinions and expressing them via his pulpit as anyone else had. Unfortunately, I didn't catch the whole segment as I was in and out of the car shopping.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
The hostess of "As It Happens" on CBC last evening was interviewing a minister from the US on this subject. He felt he had as much right to his opinions and expressing them via his pulpit as anyone else had. Unfortunately, I didn't catch the whole segment as I was in and out of the car shopping.
Actually, he does have that right. There has never been a "ban" on preaching politics. But, the church will lose it's status as a tax exempt entity.
post #4 of 27
As much as people want church out of politics, there will always be a connection of some sort.

However, I do believe that a preacher should be preaching what GOD commands and his words and his rules. Since He says that killing an unborn child is wrong, then those that support it are going against God's commands and doing it for themselves. Since God says marriage is between one man/one women and a candidate supports homosexual marriage, then the candidate is going against God's commands.

Then you should tell your congregation to examine your hearts and read God's words and then support who is more with your morals and beliefs. Its pretty obvious if you do that, as to who you would vote for.
post #5 of 27
I have always thought it odd that the entity that legitimizes a church is the Internal Revenue Service. People think that Congress allowed Scientology to be a church. It was the IRS.

As to the law, I think it should be revoked. I don't think the state should limit what they can say as long as they are subject also to the same campaigning laws as everyone else.

But on a personal level, I think that churches should stay away from this. Partisan politics are seriously dividing our society. Often candidates are chosen on select criteria (usually abortion) but there are so many other topics that are just as important (stewardship of the environment, the propensity to go to war, how we care for the poor). And each person needs to vote his conscience. To have a candidate handed down from the pulpit can alienate good people from the congregation.
post #6 of 27
Looks like Stanley thinks those "churches" should be able to have their cake and eat it too. "Yes please" we like the tax-exempt status as a religious organization. But "no thank you" we don't like having to play by the rules as a church, we want to influence voters' decisions as if we were organized under 527.
It's all laid out here and it's not that hard to understand.
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf
http://www.irs.gov/charities/politic...=96350,00.html
post #7 of 27
Many members of the clergy are opposed to such action, as it can actually undermine religious bodies' authority.

33 Pastors Flout Tax Law With Political Sermons
Quote:
In an open letter Saturday, a United Church of Christ minister, the Rev. Eric Williams, warned that many members of the clergy are "exchanging their historic religious authority for a fleeting promise of political power," to the detriment of their churches.
"The role of the church -- of congregation, synagogue, temple and mosque -- and of its religious leaders is to stand apart from government, to prophetically speak truth to power," Williams wrote, "and to encourage a national dialogue that transcends the divisiveness of electoral politics and preserves for every citizen our 'first liberty.' "
On a personal level, I think it's an abuse of authority. The role of a clergy member, IMO, is to guide people, not to use his or her position to impose personal political beliefs. I'd lose my teaching job, with justification, if I were to make an attempt to sway my students to vote for a particular party or candidate based on my own convictions. I can provide information and encourage thought and discussion, but no way can I stand in front of a classroom of people whom I grade and say, "You should vote for so-and-so because of whatever." Right now I have a few U.S. citizens of voting age as students, so I have to maintain a position of neutrality at school regarding the U.S. elections.
post #8 of 27
Too often members of a religious sect are like sheep and follow whatever their minister preaches so I personally feel he should be preaching religion and not politics. His personal preferences in regard to politics has no place in a pulpit.

I guess there will always be individuals who want their cake and eat it too.
post #9 of 27
Tricia, I wish the teachers in the country would keep their big mouths shut.
Many tell their students who they should vote for, even though they aren't supposed to, that doesn't stop many in this country. Sad to say
post #10 of 27
When I go to church I go to feed my spirit. I go for a respite from outside life. I think it would really damage churches in the long run. People who are already against organized religion certainly would not want to be part of the flock now.
post #11 of 27
If Churches want to talk about politics, then fine. Pay taxes.

I, however, don't attend religious services to hear about politics. In fact, it's quite the opposite for me. It's time for me to get away, disconnect, and be still.
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
Tricia, I wish the teachers in the country would keep their big mouths shut.
Many tell their students who they should vote for, even though they aren't supposed to, that doesn't stop many in this country. Sad to say
Cindy, I'm really not sure what the federal/state laws are in the U.S.. I do know that a Pennsylvania teacher lost her job because of me, way back when Roe vs. Wade was being discussed by the Supreme Court. I had her for English, and she assigned "anti-abortion letters" in class, collected them, and mailed them to the SCOTUS. I complained to my parents about not being able to express my personal opinion, and they took the whole matter through the school board, local, state and federal courts. My mom has always been a bit of an activist.

After all these years, I still don't understand my teacher's actions. She could have simply not mailed my opinion, which wouldn't have been right, but I wouldn't have known. Instead, she failed me in English, which was a big joke, because I'd always been within the top 5 -10 of my class. I was 6th out of 863 students, and had attended the school for 3 years instead of the usual 4. She made an issue of the whole thing, and was very bitter when I objected to her attempt to curtail my right to freedom of speech. She was a widow with several children, and really couldn't afford to get into such a battle when her job was at stake.
post #13 of 27
That poor woman, you big meanie. Even in grade school you were a rabble rouser.
post #14 of 27
The IRS regulations on this are not vague, as 2dogmon indicated. Religious leaders cannot make partisan comments at official church functions or in publications. Outside of that, as individuals, they can say what they want. It seems to me that if you actually believe and support the doctrine of any particular faith you already know which candidate you align with, as Golden Kitty also said.

The thing I don't understand is endorsements.

Quote:
I wish the teachers in the country would keep their big mouths shut
I'm sure it's covered in the contracts somewhere. The teamster union for example is pouring millions into electing Obama. My DH, a teamster for 25 years, is completely embarrassed by them and has made a point to put his presidential preference alongside his union stickers on his truck. Personally, I would love to know what percentage of the members of organizations who *endorse* a candidate actually agree with that endorsement.
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
It really doesn't make much difference. They will endorse and pundit from the pulpit, they will be sued, they will lose, long after the election and they've accomplished what they set out to do. They will regain their tax exempt status within a month or two, maybe less, and in 4 years, they'll do it again.

Welfare isn't the only system that can be played.
post #16 of 27
just as soon as they start taxing rev wright, they can go after more.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by theimp98 View Post
just as soon as they start taxing rev wright, they can go after more.
Actually, he's retired.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinder View Post
I'm sure it's covered in the contracts somewhere.
there's nothing in mine. i teach in Texas. there's nothing in it regarding political viewpoints or endorsements.
that said, i would never endorse a candidate. if asked by a student, i would tell them who i am voting for [assuming i've decided] but that's not the same thing. since i teach 2nd & 3rd graders, it's kinda moot, anyway.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
Actually, he's retired.
they still sale his dvd's in the church
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by theimp98 View Post
they still sale his dvd's in the church
They still sell Fleetwood Mac CD's too, it doesn't mean they are still together. Wright also still holds the title of Minister Emeritus. Which means just that, a title. He has no authority over church operations.

Hmm, that poses another question. Can a "guest speaker" at a church endorse a political candidate without affecting the churches tax exempt status. Interesting.
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
They still sell Fleetwood Mac CD's too, .

not the same thing and you know it.
post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by theimp98 View Post
not the same thing and you know it.
No, not the same thing. But as far as the subject goes, it's just as significant. Wright has no control of the church. The pastor there now is a gentleman named Moss, who isn't endorsing anyone. At least not yet.
post #23 of 27
Personally, I don't think that churches should be tax exempt for the purpose of having church buildings to worship in and collecting money to pay pastors. I think churches should only be tax exempt for the portion of their work that is charity -- giving good and services to needy people.

If I go out and invent a religious institution, and pay tax on the lectern I buy to put in my living room to preach from, and continue to pay tax on my house, I can endorse anybody I want to. No level of government in the united states of america recognizes churches as religions. The IRS recognizes a church as a kind of charity, and charities are tax exempt.

Therefore, I strongly believe that churches recognized as tax exempt charities by the IRS should not explicitly endorse political candidates from the lecturn. I think that the current compromise, as clearly described by GoldenKitty45, makes sense. At least until I can convince Congress to pass laws that keep religious groups from being charities just for the purpose of preaching!
post #24 of 27
Quote:
At least until I can convince Congress to pass laws that keep religious groups from being charities just for the purpose of preaching!
I don't understand the above statement.

The various ministries churches have are one of the most important things that churches do IMO. How do you know the above? Is that the way your church is?

My church has wonderful ministries that clothe and feed the poor, that ministers to prisoners, that goes to third world countries to give medical care and many, many others. That is what churches do.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
Hmm, that poses another question. Can a "guest speaker" at a church endorse a political candidate without affecting the churches tax exempt status. Interesting.
I would think so - however I would also think that the church should have a disclaimer to the effect that anyone speaking does not reflect the views of the church / parish. And I would also hope that the church would not invite such an individual back again.

I think there is a time and place for politics and the pulpit of a church is not it. I don't see much difference to when Linda Ronstadt was fired from the Aladdin club in Las Vegas because she started to run her mouth about politics. And those people who invoked "Freedom of Speech" just didn't get it. She was getting paid to do something very specific (entertain the guests of her employer) and not to "enlighten" them with her political views.

Churches have a good and worthy mission as ckblv outlined and IMO they should not taint it with politics. History has shown that bad things happen when religion and politics mix.
post #26 of 27
How about the debate in the Roman Catholic Church?A Fight Among Catholics Over Which Party Best Reflects Church Teachings
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat View Post
How about the debate in the Roman Catholic Church?A Fight Among Catholics Over Which Party Best Reflects Church Teachings
Not surprising. People have posted here of having fights with friends and family over the election. That makes it seem almost natural for organizations to be divided as well.
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