politics and churches?

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politics and churches?

Post  groomporter on Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:12 am

Does the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign contributions and freedom of speech set any precedent for churches' political rights?

In regard to bans on corporate political spending Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."

Could this ruling imply that the threat of losing their tax exempt status represents unconstitutional censorship of churches?

In the 2008 election there was a already a conservative movement encouraging ministers to engage in political speech from the pulpit in order to challenge the current IRS rules. Could this ruling aid them if they do eventually mount a court challenge?

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Re: politics and churches?

Post  Aught3 on Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:10 pm

I don't see how losing a tax-exempt status is the same thing as imposing a fine. If churches want to endorse candidates or political policies they can do that, they just can't claim they are an apolitical non-profit at the same time.
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Re: politics and churches?

Post  groomporter on Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:58 pm

Currently in the U.S. churches (as well as certain types of secular non-profit groups) are NOT allowed to endorse political candidates, if they do so, their tax exempt status can be taken away.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=154712,00.html

Considering the properties and income that some U.S. churches have, the punishment of having to pay taxes could be far greater than a fine. If this rule is overthrown, as some fundamentalists hope, some of the conservative mega-churches could be freed to put millions into political advertisements.

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Re: politics and churches?

Post  Aught3 on Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:42 am

Fair enough, I guess it is more of a problem for churches than other organisations. Maybe churches should be taxed anyway, I mean they are clearly making a killer profit.

There is a kind of contradiction between freedom of expression and a fair political election. If I had to choose I would rather have a better democracy. Tough call though.
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