There is a petition making the rounds which is getting some real support, and that you should sign:

Enforce the tax code, and strip violating Religious institutions of their tax exempt 501(c) status.

Religious institutions across our great nation serve an important role in community building & out reach, helping the poor & disenfranchised, among many other noble actions.

Our forefathers had the foresight to see that for our nation to succeed, we would need to enforce an unparalleled freedom of religion. However, they also understood the imperative need for a legal separation between church & state.

In recent years, the IRS has turned a blind eye to offending Religious institutions that mix religion with politics. By not enforcing the qualifications & disqualification’s of 26 U.S.C. § 501(c) of the United States tax code, the IRS is doing a diservice to both the American people & the vision of our forefathers.

We ask that you enforce the letter of the law.

There are two things the petition does not mention but that you need to know:

1) Many religious institutions carry out activities that are generally done by businesses that pay taxes, and they compete. Mega churches are often conference centers. Churches often run supportive housing facilities that bring in profits, or build social service facilities that dome with guarantteed developers fees. I know of a church that got a government grant to build a housing facility, subcontracted the work, and had a guaranteed $500,000 profit for their effort, and now runs the facility in the black with no taxes to pay. There may be nothing wrong that any of that. You just need to know that the tax exempt status is worth mucho dinero for any church.

2) Many religious institutions carry out a defacto political policy even other than supporting specific candidates, so even churches that stay within the letter of the law are busy being very political.

Please sign the petition HERE.

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Photo of megachurch by Flickr user rauchdickson.

Comments

  1. #1 gwen
    November 23, 2012

    There is a HUGE Catholic megachurch in the city next to where I live. Every time I have to drive by that behemoth eyesore, I wonder how many of their impoverished flock that money could have gone to help instead of building that ugly trophy.

  2. #2 Duncan
    November 23, 2012

    That Jesus statue in the picture used to stand along I-75N near Cincinatti. It burned a few years ago, struck by lightning, I believe, and has been replaced by a different one.

  3. #3 Hatman
    November 24, 2012

    The old statue was known as “Touchdown Jesus”. Waiting for a name for the new one….I’ve already heard ” ‘It was this big’ Jesus” or ” ‘I need a hug’ Jesus”

  4. #4 dean
    November 26, 2012

    That Jesus statue in the picture used to stand along I-75N near Cincinatti. It burned a few years ago, struck by lightning, I believe, and has been replaced by a different one.

    It was made “famous” in the song “Big Butter Jesus” by Heywood Banks. Part of myy favorite verse from the original contains this

    Well don’t make no graven images.
    That’s one of the 10 commandments
    I hope the grading curve is kindly
    You get to heaven with a 90

    After it burned he added this

    One night Big Butter got hit by lightning
    It burned to the frame wire in a giant grease fire
    Some blamed it on Satan, and boy, that would be frightening
    But I thought it was Jesus’ father who was in charge of lightning

  5. #5 David Noziglia
    Alexandria, VA
    November 27, 2012

    Good, if idealistic, idea.

    In 2004, my family came back from Catholic services, and told me that the priest had told the congregation that anyone who voted for John Kerry would go to hell.

    I had the same thought. This means that that Catholic church had just forfeited its right to tax exempt status.

    Only problem is, good luck with that. Like the bogus idea that corporations can be treated as people in law, with all the protections and none of the responsibilities, the idea that churches, including scams like Scientology, get tax exemption is just too entrenched to change.

    Not that it can’t be done. Go for it, and you have my full support. Just expect that it wlll be a long, hard slog.

  6. [...] Strip Violating Religious Institutions of Tax Exempt Status [Greg Laden's Blog] (scienceblogs.com) [...]