Monday, August 8, 2016

Church and State: Taxes

In the United States we have laws preventing churches from engaging in political speech.   We don't arrest the holy men, we just take away their tax free status.  When some people hear about this they get all upset - mainly because they think we are taxing holy men.   No - we are taxing criminals.  

The thing they forget is that in the US, we accept ALL religions.  Including the 'bad ones'.  It's not just the Catholic church, the Protestants, the Jews, that get tax free status.

It's also the Mormons, the Muslims, the Scientologists, and the Moonies (until a court found them to be propagating political views, so it took away their tax status).  But that's not the worst of it - it's also The Children of God, Heaven's Gate, the Branch Davidians, the Order of the Solar Temple, and Jim Jone's The People's Temple.

And don't forget those TV Evangelists that tell poor people to send them money, all the while living in mansions and buying airplanes for personal use.  While the people sending them money are literally unable to pay their own rent.

So how do you tell the difference between a "real" religion and a cult?  Well, we can't.  There is NO way to do it.  NONE.   As strange as you think some of the religions are, in the eyes of the law, they are the same - as long as they obey the law.  That doesn't just mean not killing people, not forcing them to work for free - it also means obeying the law to not interfere in our political process.

All of them get the same tax free status.  Yes, even the Branch Davidians had legal tax free status, - at least until they got caught breaking laws. 

Lots of people have abused these laws.  Not just the violent and crazy cults I mentioned.  There are also the thieving liars.  People that start a church not because of a true belief in god, but simply out of a greedy desire to not pay taxes.  They even have a preferred system, called "the prosperity gospel".  You preach that giving money to the church will put you in God's favor.   This is NOT in any of the 'real' bibles - not the christian, Jewish, or Muslim versions.   They just made it up for their own benefit.   You can do that too, and it's all legal.  It just requires you to be a soul-less, corrupt, evil, son of a bitch, willing to lie to everyone about what you belief - and not get caught doing so. 

The United States has not found a legal, constitutional way to stop them.   Because the real problem is not their philosophy, but the fact that they don't really, truly believe in it (with perhaps some exceptions for those that are really good at self-deception).  

[If you find a way to stop them, that does no make a value judgement on their religion  (the US Constitutions says the government shall not make value judgements on religions - we accept all, no matter how bat shit crazy it is, because of how badly the English and other European countries did at judging religions), speak up.  But I doubt you can, lots of very intelligent people have tried for a very long time.]

But we did find a way to stop ONE clear and obvious abuse of religion - political lobbying.

Remember - the US is supposed to not favor any one religion.  As politicians are not supposed to favor any one religion, that means religions should not be trying to tell politicians what to do.  If the politicians obeyed, that would mean favoring one religion over the other ones that disagreed with them.  So any religion that attempts to influence politics is attempting to violate one of the most sacred principles of our Constitution.

Which is why we made it illegal for churches to do this - with the minor punishment of removing their tax free status.  This stopped just one of the several abuses 'fake' religions that were set up only for tax purposes.

Is this evil?  No.   Churches are not entitled to tax free status.   Do you think that the Moonies, who worship a North Korean man and want to establish a world wide government ruled by Moonies should get tax free status?

The Mormons have walked a very fine line, basically running the state of Utah, but being careful to not step over it.  So we let them stay tax free as long as the church itself doesn't engage in political lobbying.

God's honest truth say there is nothing about democracy or capitalism that exempts churches from  paying taxes.  That is just an old hold over from the European custom of not taxing churches because they were basically an arm of the government.

Unlike the Middle ages, we have religious freedom, there should be no connection between church and state, so there is no reason to give ANY church tax free.  We have however graciously given all churches tax free status on the one condition that they don't get involved in politics.

You break that rule, you give up your special, UNEARNED status.  The same rule applies to the Moonies, the Mormons, the Muslims, the Protestants, the Catholics, and the Jews.

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