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Simple solution to a portion of our budget deficit: Audit religion

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posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 05:14 PM
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
Those are the establishment clause and free exercise clause of the US Constitution.

Now how does that mean we can't tax certain religious groups?

Let's take a mega church, any random one that has over 1500 attendees (there are about 1400 of them). Let's say the pastor is making a six figure salary, that is an untaxable salary because it comes from his religious duties.

Now, why is that?
Because we're insane.

By the logic of this sentiment, the luxurious expenditures of religious institutions go part in parcel with their exercise of religion.

Last time I checked, Evangelical Christianity didn't have a doctrinal requirement for high-paid ministers. Catholicism has no doctrinal requirement for luxurious churches.

Now, I'm not saying tax all religious institutions, but I say they should be subject to the exact same scrutiny that business is, possibly with more leeway.

This shouldn't be a problem if they're performing primarily charitable acts with their income, or if they're hardly pulling in any profits, because I'm not proposing to shut down smaller religious institutions, just the ones that spend frivolously and are clearly fleecing their flock.

I grew up in Missouri, there was a female minister (whose name I forget, another Missourian might be able to remember it) that had three mansions, a dozen cars, and 7 figure annual income. How would taxing her prohibit the free exercise of her religion? If she's a Christian she just needs to talk to the people at Gideon's and get a free Bible and stop at the vast majority of Churches that don't require tithing.

The same goes for Scientology, which is essentially a massive moneymaking scheme.

I'm not sure about the finances of most Islamic and Judaic religious centers, but I know that the Judaic ones that I grew up near had rabbis that weren't paid very much.

Anyway, who supports this?

posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 05:21 PM
Well, if you ask the Tea Party, this is a Christian country. Obviously they set it up so they would always be tax exempt

Seriously though, churches operate as businesses and, as such, should be taxed like one.

Pyramid scheme in every way!

posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 05:38 PM
reply to post by madnessinmysoul

agreed 100% tax the religions that spend lavishly.

Oh and another thing too,, stop choosing what can and cant be a religion. That is just ridiculous

posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 06:30 PM
I don't remember ever reading, hearing or seeing about ministers, priests or whatever having a six figure income.
Only in the states it seems there is an actual public market for religion.

I think that is disgusting.

I say, tax'm and confiscate the rest of the income. Let their lives be sober and poor.

posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 07:06 PM
Not quite as simple as you think though.

First though I must get on my soap box here for a second:

You started off pretty well, using some good solid numbers backed by facts, then went straight in for some good ole fashioned assumptions with the 'six-figure income' bit. At least though, you did admit the assumption. My guess, knowing that the majority of people will not see it as a presumption but rather fact. /soapbox done.

This is one really where proponents for the absolutism of "Separation of Church and State" didn't think out their view too far out and not too logically.

As many members of Congress will generally confer with the notion of the separation of the two; Church and States, they have effectively stated that Church shall not be touched by the State, and the State shall not be touched by the Church.

As to the First Amendment, the general argument that usually sticks is that taxing the Church, which as we all know taxes originate solely from Congress via law, violates the establishment and free exercise clauses.

Another thing is that we, as free people allow a Government which is to have no involvement in the exercise of our faiths pick and choose who and what gets to be a religion via tax-exempt laws. This is the real deal-breaker for me in terms of violation of the First Amendment. Through back doors, tax-exemption gives Congress the power to dictate religion and pressure religion via tax laws and threats. Such as possibly being taxed like a regular business.

But let us assume that they determine that taxing a church or religion is kosher to the First Amendment. What happens when a new religion is duly found? What happens when a religion receives tax breaks because they mainly focus on poorer neighborhoods? What happens when religious leaders receive some kickbacks because they now can preach freely without fear of tax intimidation in favor of a particular party or politician?

Thinking it through, it is not as simple as you think. Don't think just tax them, get their monies and we will deal with all the other issues of unintended consequences later. That is how this country has been ran for nearly 100 years now and look where we are at.

posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 07:15 PM
Actually I think that would be an incorrect approach because if we taxed religion, then religions would demand direct representation in our government.

Not that they don't already have representation in our government, but I think that is wrong too. I think that religion should be completely separate from our government structure. Fact is, I would like to see laws passed that directly forbade religions from any involvement in any government matter.

posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 07:23 PM
reply to post by whatukno

Which is impossible because then Congress is infringing on the free exercise thereof. How do you separate one's faith, which in the case of a religious person or spiritual person most likely has helped develop their core principles, which then help mold their political thought and understand using those principles as their foundation.

Do we stop and fine people for claiming the United States is a Christian Nation? What happens when a pastor, outside of his official duties, speaks to a group about the importance of faith and political involvement? What if that pastor wants to run, using his faith as a guiding principle, but not his legislative purpose? Who is to say he cannot?

In any case as stated at first, it would be stricken down as unconstitutional because Congress would be making a law restricting the People in engaging in the exercise of their religion or faith of choice.

posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 07:24 PM
reply to post by whatukno

Priests and so on are already presented in our governments.

They are allowed to vote are they not?

posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 08:00 PM
reply to post by ownbestenemy

Exactly, it's impossible. But I don't want to give religions an excuse to demand direct representation in the government, all that would do is start us down the road to theocracy and well, we all know how well a theocracy works.

posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 07:40 AM
reply to post by whatukno

Well, as someone already stated, 'religion' technically does have representation within Government. Through voting.

Now, this is one of the VERY reasons we see why the Founding Fathers diffused and spread out Democracy throughout the Republic. To keep such things as a theocracy or pure democracy from happening.

Ah yes, I should have edited 'impossible' to 'improbable'.......I tend not to use the word impossible. Where there is a will, there is a way.

posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 07:57 AM
reply to post by ownbestenemy

I don't think you are quite understanding what I am getting at. Doesn't surprise me that you wouldn't understand at all.

What I mean about direct representation is actually representatives or a representative body like a house or senate style structure, but purely for theocratic issues. Passing laws on the rest of us, why heck, if that were to happen, Christians could start burning witches again! Oh how fun would that be?

I think we need to keep the government secular, while at the same time respecting religious freedoms for all. I know you won't understand, I'll just have to assume that someone else will.

posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 08:54 AM
i dont think so.
the churches get their money from donations. the donations are from peoples incomes that have allready
been taxed.

tax the income, then tax everything else somebody does with the remainder, thats how the system works , tax upon tax???
if people want to donate part of their already taxed income to a group, they should have the right to do that without government getting involved and trying to take more from them.
if a church wants to give six figures to their leader, thats their business, not yours.

posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 10:11 AM
reply to post by whatukno

Don't be passive aggressive towards me Whatukno. I understand completely what you mean regardless of your attempts at trying to paint it otherwise.

Your hypothetical is hyperbole. How would removing tax-exemption upon non-profit organizations give them the direct representation you speak of? Even if it could happen, I wouldn't want it either. Government should be accountable to the rule of law, not religion or religious doctrine. Since the framework of the Constitution is neutral to the fact, and our laws are checked against the Constitution, those laws should and shall remain religion neutral as well.

You seem to fail to recognize something as well. I advocate a religion neutral government structure, but Men make up that government. I also believe that the Constitution calls for this neutrality, but does not call for people occupying it to be religion neutral.

posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 06:40 PM
I'd just like to address the general tone. I'm not speaking about 99% of religious institutions in the USA. I'm probably not even referring to 10%. I don't have an exact number, but it's doubtful that the majority of religious institutions in the USA operate with profit margins.

I'm only saying to tax the individual pastors that make millions of dollars. Tax Churches that make lavish expenditures, like buying a giant solid gold Jesus. That sort of statue isn't necessary for a free exercise of religion.

Also, start taxing all of the religious institutions that are directly endorsing candidates. The second that religious groups start doing so they are supposed to lose their tax-exempt status. They become a political organization instead of a religious one. They can speak about positions all they want, but individual politicians are a different thing.

I remember living in St. Louis during the 2004 election season and the archbishop didn't give Kerry communion. That's a specific message against a specific candidate, it should have invalidated the archdiocese's tax-exempt status. It even violates doctrinal principals (I was attending a Catholic high school at the time, the discussions were quite fierce), so it can't be protected as the free exercise of religion.

posted on Oct, 8 2010 @ 05:54 AM

Originally posted by whatukno
Actually I think that would be an incorrect approach because if we taxed religion, then religions would demand direct representation in our government

That can be taken care of by abolishing tax-exempt status. Absent, of course, abolishing taxation altogether.

Types of Tax-Exempt Organizations

posted on Oct, 8 2010 @ 05:52 PM
reply to post by The Old American

We could simply abolish tax-exempt status for organizations by reworking the tax code and simply forcing the organizations now tax-exempt to show that their finances reflect their actual goals. It would probably benefit those who donate and those who receive the services of these services more to have it that way.

posted on Oct, 8 2010 @ 06:01 PM
With other constitutional rights being swept under the rug almost on a yearly basis I see NO REASON why an amendment to religious institutions being exempt from taxation should not be considered! It is ridiculous how much these money sucking religious institutions rake in annually without paying into the system that perpetuates them.

edit on 10/8/2010 by Creedo because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 9 2010 @ 02:21 PM
you whole arguement is based on the government needs your money to function.

That is the flaw in your thinking.

Who creates the money? Well the U.S. gov gives permission to the fed to create it.

Well who gets to spend this money? THe U.S. gov.

They don't need your tax money. Taxes is a regulatory tool to impose poverty or prosperity on a mass scale.

Why would you want to tax anything for that matter.

Now the local governments i agree they need tax funding.
The federal government has no need to tax anyone for anything other than putting a boot on a throat.

posted on Oct, 10 2010 @ 05:22 PM
reply to post by TaxpayersUnleashed

Apparently you are unaware of the concept of 'inflation'. Were the government to create $3 trillion out of thin air every year to finance government spending we'd hit rapid inflation. We'd probably double the money supply every few years if we did that.

Runaway inflation and devaluation would turn us into a third world joke. The US dollar would be used to line bird cages

posted on Oct, 10 2010 @ 05:28 PM
100% I say TAX THEM!!!!!! TAX THEM ALL!!!!!!!!

I get TAXED, you get TAXED, everything and everybody gets TAXED, so why should these organizations escape that??

NO EXCUSE, they should be TAXED too if I get TAXED, you get TAXED, and everything gets TAXED then so should they.

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