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Pastor tests IRS by endorsing candidate

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posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 09:15 PM
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The Rev. H. Wayne Williams, pastor of Liberty Baptist Tabernacle in Rapid City, last month endorsed GOP state Sen. Gordon Howie in the South Dakota governor's race, in defiance of the Internal Revenue Service and a federal court ruling and in hopes of producing a landmark constitutional test case.

At issue is an IRS regulation called the Johnson Amendment, enacted in 1954, that says that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the section of the tax code under which most churches file, cannot endorse a specific political candidate and retain its nonprofit classification.


www.washingtontimes.com...

If the Rev. H. Wayne Williams truly wants to challenge the law, why not begin by rejecting exempt status? A church can only require exemption from the tax code if they are liable to begin with. What makes the church liable to any code the IRS enforces, and by what authority does the IRS declare what is and what isn't a bona fide religion?



[edit on 18-6-2010 by Jean Paul Zodeaux]




posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 09:55 PM
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Maybe I'm missing something. I can be quite dense some times. How can the pastor challenge a law if he isn't in violation of it? If the church had no exemption status from the IRS, then it wouldn't be any business of the IRS, thus no law pertains to the endorsement of a specific candidate, so no law is broken. If the pastor wants to challenge the law, then of course he will have to violate it to be heard in court, yes? So he needs to remain exempt to break the law and be charged and then go through the courts to challenge the law. Help me out here.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 10:00 PM
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reply to post by kyred
 


The opinion I offered is not related to the pastors efforts. His church is a 501c3 non profit organization and under the rules that come with this "tax exemption" church officials are not allowed to use the church to endorse a political candidate. The pastor is wasting the courts time with this, as the church voluntarily applied for "tax exempt" status, and signed a contract agreeing to abide by the rules. The church can not eat their cake and have it too. If they want "tax exempt" status, or a 501c3 then they must abide by the rules they agreed to play along with. What I am arguing is that no church is legally bound to hold a non profit status, or 501c3 in order to function as a church.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 02:53 PM
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It serves to question then; why it the Church’s First Amendment rights are able to be abridged under the guise of the 501c code?

Why is it that because they are a non-profit must they not be able to redress the Government via support of a candidate? The People of that particular church are in free association. Via that association, they should be able to advocate their support of a candidate regardless of their exempt status.

That it seems is what maybe the pastor is truly challenging, unintentionally nonetheless.

To me, it seems like a loophole that Congress enjoys in regards to the First Amendment. As this is pseudo law, policy dictated by a bureaucracy that is not accountable to the Public, Congress enjoys a buffer of immunity.

I do agree though, that if the Pastor is to make a stand and challenge, drop the exempt status as a non-profit, then present the case as such: Why must a church choose between enjoying their First Amendment rights in regards to freedom of association and redress or tax exempt and relinquish their rights because of that status?



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 03:00 PM
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Perhaps I looked over this, but is the Pastor endorsing the political candidate as a church official? Or is his endorsement personal? Not sure that it makes any difference. I'm just trying to get everything in my mind.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 04:11 PM
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The state grants tax-exempt status to organizations with various restrictions, one being their not engaging in politicking.

That seems fair enough given the vast holdings of religious entities.

If they don't want to follow the few rules applied to their status, let them pay taxes, like the rest of us.



[edit on 2010/6/19 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 04:24 PM
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reply to post by GradyPhilpott
 



I agree. However the laws on the books are widely ignored and seldom enforced unless you are some fringe cult.
Go into any Southern Baptist, Church of Christ church around election time and the GOP candidates are openly endorsed.

Conversely the Catholics, Episcopalians endorse the Democrats.






[edit on 19-6-2010 by whaaa]



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 04:30 PM
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reply to post by whaaa
 


I grew up Southern Baptist and in those days Christians were encouraged to vote their convictions, which is as it should be.

I never remember any church in the Southern Baptist Convention endorsing candidates.

If this is the norm now, then those churches who do so should have their tax-exempt status revoked forthwith.

Church members should be smart enough to know which candidates support their values and which ones don't.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 05:10 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott


I never remember any church in the Southern Baptist Convention endorsing candidates.



I do. You might find this interesting.

www.livingston.net...
blog.au.org...

[edit on 19-6-2010 by whaaa]



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 05:32 PM
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reply to post by Wayne60
 


It depends on where the proclamation occurred. If via the pulpit as the head of that church he endorsed a particular candidate then that church would be the endorser. If he was walking down the street and said something like "Hey, I endorse so and so." then that is his personal beliefs.

Just like a CEO or owner of a company, while engaged in their business, they represent the company on a whole. As is such, if this pastor was asserting his support of such candidates from the pulpit then the representation is implied.

--------

On a separate note, why do we leave it up to the Federal Government to determine what is/is not a church? Why just because it is a non-profit must it not engage in politics? Or is it because it is a church with non-profit status that irks people?

The irrational fear that a congregation should not engage in local, state or national politics show how even the most enlightened people in this county want it their way, while placing backdoor restrictions upon groups they deem unworthy of engaging in self-governance and democratic principles.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 07:17 PM
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reply to post by whaaa
 


I'm really speaking of MY youth, which predates the late eighties by about a generation.

I would also like to say that the Southern Baptist Convention, while being a fairly fundamentalist denomination, has never been accurately described in the media and just about the only time they get any press at all is when the convention comes along and there will be the perfunctory battle between the conservative and liberal wings, which the media love.

It should also be noted that the Southern Baptist Convention is so called because each church is completely independent. There is no ruling body that affects the churches in the Convention. (Notice the upper case and lower case usage of the term convention.)

Anyone in the Southern Baptist Convention can endorse anything or anyone they so please, even the president, but no one and I do mean no one has the authority to speak for the Convention, which is to reiterate is a loose association of independent churches.

I will also say that if the Republican party is considered the "Christian" party it is only because the Republican party currently comes closest to reflecting the values consistent with Christian values.

That has changed in the past and it could change again, but not as long as the Democrat party continues down a path toward Marxist ideology.

This link may seem factual and indeed may contain many facts, but it is as far from the truth of the Southern Baptists as you can come. In fact, I'd call it pure claptrap.

Southern Baptists take the Bible to be the literal word of God and it wouldn't say much for the Southern Baptists if they abandoned Biblical principles for politics.



[edit on 2010/6/19 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 08:24 PM
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reply to post by ownbestenemy
 


The reason a church's 1st Amendment rights can be circumvented under the guise of a 501c3 is the same reason your car can be towed away and impounded without any due process of law, or that you can be told by a tax collection agency that if you have a dispute about the amount owed on a tax you have the "right" to pay the tax first and then enter into a tax court and argue your case and if that court agrees they will refund your money, which is hardly due process of law. How that works is through simple granting of jurisdiction.

If ever there was solid evidence of the absoluteness of the inherent political power of the people, it lies in this voluntary granting of jurisdiction in order to allow government officials to circumvent The Bill of Rights and act upon whim. Churches voluntarily apply for "tax exempt" status and in doing so they confess to a liability to begin with. It stands to reason that one who is not liable need no exemption from the law since they are not subject to that law.

Once an individual or organization has admitted liability and being subject to a law, the questions of rules and regulations regarding that law become moot. It is folly to ask why the regulations exist, and the key is to understand whether or not one is actually subject to the law to begin with. The 1st Amendment prohibits Congress from making any laws regarding the establishment of religion and the free exercise thereof. The Establishment Clause alone makes it clear that churches are not subject to any law regarding establishment of and taxing an establishment would seem to be a law regarding establishment.

The loophole you speak of is the willful and voluntary application for 501c3 status. That application, this asking for permission to be a church, is a clear waiver of ones 1st Amendment right in order to be subject to a law that church would not ordinarily be subject to. This is why you agree the pastor should first reject the 501c3 status, even if you don't understand it in terms of the law per se, you understand instinctively that it is self evident a church need no permission from Congress in order to establish itself.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 08:34 PM
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Originally posted by Wayne60
Perhaps I looked over this, but is the Pastor endorsing the political candidate as a church official? Or is his endorsement personal? Not sure that it makes any difference. I'm just trying to get everything in my mind.


It doesn't make any difference, as endorsement of a political candidate is another 1st Amendment issue in regards to freedom of speech, or press depending upon how that endorsement is made. The recent ruling of Citizen's United explains clearly how Congress cannot make laws dictating how individuals or organizations endorse a political candidate.

As an interesting side note, as a part of the Citizen United ruling, the court offered as dicta, (not ruling), that had Congress in their Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act only addressed foreign corporations rather than all corporations the ruling might have gone down differently, although that court offered as dicta that they were inclined to believe even then the law would probably be unconstitutional. However, and this is important to understand, as often times the SCOTUS will in cryptic ways explain the nature of their authority, a foreign corporation would likely have no standing to demand a redress of grievances regarding such a law, as the SCOTUS has no jurisdiction to hear such a case regarding foreign corporations, and this precedent is well established by the infamous Dred Scott ruling.

The bottom line is this; Congress has the complete and plenary power of taxation, but this does not mean that their taxing authority comes without rules and regulations. Every tax must have a subject to it in order to be valid. What would be the subject of a tax imposed on a pastor who wants to endorse a political candidate in his own church? That is the question.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 08:52 PM
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reply to post by GradyPhilpott
 





If they don't want to follow the few rules applied to their status, let them pay taxes, like the rest of us.


When a person pays for a piece of property, or rent for a dwelling it is presumed that the person paying understands the terms of the contract. In other words, if you are renting a domicile and you are paying x amount of dollars per month for this domicile, it is presumed you understand all the terms that went into contracting this agreement. If the agreement is to pay x amount of dollars a month for a lease on a one year agreement, then it would be ludicrous to pay 13 months rent for year, or even worse 15 to 20 months rent for one year.

It is fairly presumed that if your landlord came to you and demanded the back rent of 7 months in order to fulfill your lease, even though you had paid the full twelve months, that you would think your landlord a nut case, and challenge this ludicrous demand. You would no doubt pull out the lease agreement, pull out a calender and demonstrate that there are 12 months in a year and show the receipts that prove you paid in full for 12 months.

However, when it comes to "income taxation" very few people look at the bill collector with incredulity and ask how it is they became liable for the tax to begin with. Remarkably few people actually bother to read the tax laws in which they voluntarily file a valid tax return or willingly sign a contract in the form of Form W-4 or some other contract regarding employment. While Title 26 of the U.S.C. can be undeniably clear about making someone liable for a tax, and therefore subject to the law, when it wants to, for the vast majority of people, Title 26 is not so clear how they were made liable, and thus subject to the law, and rely upon a particular tautology where invented terms such as "taxable income" and "gross income", or "adjusted gross income" earned in a "taxable year" in regards to a "taxpayer" are offered and defined, but the circumlocution of definitions is akin to an Abbot and Costello routine, and where "Who's on First" can be amusing, it is far easier to understand than the tautology offered up by the code.

My point is this, what makes you so sure you are even liable to the so called "Personal Income Tax"? If you are not liable for that tax and paying it, why are you doing that? Can you point to the law and show me how you were made liable for this tax? I would be willing to bet that the only thing that ever made you liable for that tax is your own self-assessment and voluntary paying of the tax. If this is true, then why keep paying a tax you do not owe? Wouldn't it be as ludicrous as paying 20 months rent for a years lease?

Everybody should pay the taxes they owe, but they should not have to pay the taxes they do not owe. I know of know laws outside of perhaps direct taxes on property that would apply to a church. I say everybody should pay the taxes they owe and not a penny more.



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 12:10 PM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


This is the byproduct of our convoluted tax code that is used not to collect taxes to maintain basic governmental functions, but rather used to extort, force, gain political power, favor markets that the Central Government wish favored, silence groups due to their tax status, etc.

This is why I highly doubt that we will ever see a change in the tax code in the way of simplification. There are too many hands in the honey pot and to ruin that gravy train I would suppose require a drastic change that the United States is yet to see.

The mere fact that a church must choose between enjoying the benefit of being tax-exempt due to their non-profit status and abdicate their ability to redress the government via support of a candidate; or not be recognized as a church and the protections that come with it just to be able to exercise their First Amendment rights.



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 12:20 PM
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reply to post by ownbestenemy
 





The mere fact that a church must choose between enjoying the benefit of being tax-exempt due to their non-profit status and abdicate their ability to redress the government via support of a candidate; or not be recognized as a church and the protections that come with it just to be able to exercise their First Amendment rights.


What benefits come with being "tax exempt"? If a church isn't liable to begin with, and I know of know law that makes any church liable for a personal income tax, then how are they benefiting from applying for "tax exempt" status. Further, there is no legal authority that allows any branch of government to "recognize" a church as a church. The Establishment Clause is quite clear on the matter.



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 01:03 PM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


I will have to research such questions. Want to see the problem....decipher this crap HERE. There was a day when the law was transparent and the laymen could function within society.



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 01:21 PM
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reply to post by ownbestenemy
 


What you have supplied is not a problem for any church unless they make it their problem. What I mean by that is that it only becomes a problem if they hold themselves out to be "tax exempt". I assure you my friend, no matter how hard you look, you will not find any section in the code that explicitly makes churches liable for any tax. Oh there are "pay roll" taxes to be considered, but even this only becomes a problem for a church if they incorporate and ask the state for a grant of statutory existence. Without that state granted existence, they remain simply a church, and there is no law or code that would make them liable for any tax, and therefore they would need no exemption.

The only "benefit" that comes from having a 501c3 is that the churches laity gain a "tax deduction" for their tithes. I would suggest that any church that must rely on parishioner's who will only be a member of the church if they get a "tax deduction" for their tithe, is not a church truly concerned with what it should be concerned with. Christians may argue that Jesus instructs them to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" but in the United States of America, Caesar's are expressly forbidden by Constitution. Thus, there are not Caesar's to render unto. Those same Christians who would attempt to use the Caesar instruction seem to ignore that very same New Testament instructs them to obey the law of the land, and the law of the land in the U.S. begins with the Constitution for the United States of America, as well as state constitutions.

Churches are protected from this Abbot and Costello routine of a tax code by Constitution, and it is not their responsibility to look to the tax code to understand a thing. The only thing that needs to be understood, is that Congress has been prohibited from making any laws establishing religion, and any laws that would interfere with the exercise thereof.



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 10:49 PM
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Originally posted by ownbestenemy
It serves to question then; why it the Church’s First Amendment rights are able to be abridged under the guise of the 501c code?

Why is it that because they are a non-profit must they not be able to redress the Government via support of a candidate? The People of that particular church are in free association. Via that association, they should be able to advocate their support of a candidate regardless of their exempt status.


Why?


I do agree though, that if the Pastor is to make a stand and challenge, drop the exempt status as a non-profit, then present the case as such: Why must a church choose between enjoying their First Amendment rights in regards to freedom of association and redress or tax exempt and relinquish their rights because of that status?


Because being tax-exempt is not a fundamental right. It's a loophole, but one which has general public support because of the perceived public benefits and charitable nature of churches.

And of course otherwise, you'd have lobbying and political agencies take on bogus church status to save on taxes.

Finally, US political structure was informed from the experience in the UK especially and Europe in general from 1400's through 1791, where there were tremendous problems with highly politicized and wealthy churches intrinsically involving themselves in politics---or political & financial power involving themselves with the churches. Almost all of it had dreadful outcomes. Discouraging (but not banning) political involvement by organized churches, with something as mild as revoking a tax break, is a sensible idea.

[edit on 20-6-2010 by mbkennel]

[edit on 20-6-2010 by mbkennel]




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