Monday, September 29, 2008

Intentional Violation of the Law: How Will the Government Respond?

Oh great.
CROWN POINT, Ind., Sept. 28 -- Defying a federal law that prohibits U.S. clergy from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit, an evangelical Christian minister told his congregation Sunday that voting for Sen. Barack Obama would be evidence of "severe moral schizophrenia."

The Rev. Ron Johnson Jr. told worshipers that the Democratic presidential nominee's positions on abortion and gay partnerships exist "in direct opposition to God's truth as He has revealed it in the Scriptures." Johnson showed slides contrasting the candidates' views but stopped short of endorsing Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain.

Johnson and 32 other pastors across the country set out Sunday to break the rules, hoping to generate a legal battle that will prompt federal courts to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

The ministers contend they have a constitutional right to advise their worshipers how to vote. As Johnson put it during a break between sermons, "The point that the IRS says you can't do it, I'm saying you're wrong." 33 Pastors Flout Tax Law With Political Sermons

What do you think the Republican administration will do in this situation? Do you think they will start making these churches pay taxes like the secular institutions they are trying to be? Somehow I don't see that happening.

To me, it makes sense to separate religion and government. It seems like every time they get mixed together something ugly happens. The people can believe what they want about where the world came from and what is right and wrong, and they can obey the laws of the land. Ought to be able to do both. But no, some of these nutty guys think you can only do one or the other -- these guys are saying that if you believe in their particular deity you don't have to obey the laws.

Sheesh, you would've known these guys would turn up in this somewhere, wouldn't you?
The campaign, organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal consortium based in Arizona, has gotten the attention of the Internal Revenue Service. The agency, alerted by opponents, pledged to "monitor the situation and take action as appropriate."

I hope the ADF are as successful at this as they were at getting our nondiscrimination law thrown out.

Skipping ... this is the kind of thing, this is where they lose me:
In the modern red-brick Living Stones Church in Crown Point, a town of 28,000 residents 50 miles southeast of Chicago, Johnson explained why he thinks a minister should dispense political advice. He then laid out his view of the positions of Obama and McCain on abortion and same-sex marriage, which he called two issues "that transcend all others."

"We want people when you prick them, they bleed the word of God," Johnson said.

Why would those two issues, of all the things in the world, "transcend all others?" Abortion and same-sex marriage. Not torture, poverty, disease, genocide, not divorce, orphans, natural disaster. Abortion and same-sex marriage.

And tell me, what does that last sentence mean, you prick them and they bleed the word of God? First of all, I am a red-blooded American and when I bleed it will be the red blood that nature put in my natural veins. Second of all, I don't want idiots like this pricking me for any reason.

31 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"these guys are saying that if you believe in their particular deity you don't have to obey the laws."

No they aren't, Jim. They believe that regardless of what you believe, you have a right to free speech and the government should not be able to supress it by taxing you if you say what they don't want you to say.

I went to an AICPA conference in June and went to the break-out session on religious organizations. The room was filled with representatives from all types of religious organizations, left and right. This protest being organized by ADF was the hot topic of conversation and every person there seem to believe that if the law is challenged, it will be declared unconstitutional.

For perspective, the speaker, a lawyer with expertise in state-church law pointed out that this law forbidding churches from endorsing candidates dates to the fifties and was pushed by LBJ who was bitter that he lost his first election because a popular preacher in Texas endorsed his opponent.

Hey, Hey, LBJ

how many rights

did you take away today?

September 29, 2008 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To get back to the presidential election, let me ask you liberal kids a question:

You all seem to be against the war in Iraq because it was pre-emptive. You support Obama because he would never do something like that while the dastardly John McCain, like the evil Hillary Clinton, voted to approve it.

And, yet, Obama, at the debate, supported an escalation of a "pre-emptive war" against Afghanistan and a new one against Pakistan.

Are you not upset because you also support these "pre-emptive wars" or is it because you think Obama is lying?

September 29, 2008 11:49 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Btw, Wyatt, the insertion of "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance also happened in the 50's.

I have no rpoblems with churches preaching what they want -- the people will just not support it with their taxes.

September 29, 2008 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I agree with Dana: if someone is going to run a political campaign, regardless of whether or not it is in a house of worship, they shouldn't do it tax free.

Then there is the whole question of whether religious income should be tax-free or not. On the notion that it is charitable, go for it, but if you're going to take on political action, don't you think you should pay taxes like all other PACs?

rrjr

September 29, 2008 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Obama, at the debate, supported an escalation of a "pre-emptive war" against Afghanistan and a new one against Pakistan.

First, the war against the Al Qaeda and their Afghan government hosts, the Taliban, was not pre-emptive. Al qaeda attacked us, killing thousands of our citizens on 9/11. We had grounds to go after Afghanistan. However, the invasion of Iraq was labelled "pre-emptive" when it was really just a neocon's dream come true.

Second, Obama said we should have continued to fight in Afghanistan, crossing the Pakistani border if necessary, to capture Taliban and Al qaeda troops and leaders. The war in Afghanistan is against those who attacked us as well as those who harbor them. Under President Obama, there will be no war against Pakistan, but there will be no depending on their military to do our work for us either. All the years we've relied on the Pakistanis to capture Bin Laden have been wasted.

September 29, 2008 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert and the-artist-formerly-known-by-another-name:

ADF will win. It's not OK for the government to tax you for exercising freedom of speech and religion.

If a candidate favor laws that oppose a religion's beliefs, leaders of that religion should be free to point it out to their congregation and encourage them to oppose that candidate. The law allows churches to oppose or endorse laws. What sense does it make to say they can't endorse candidates that oppose or favor those laws?

Simply endorsing a candidate from the pulpit is cost-free, btw, Robert

September 29, 2008 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"if someone is going to run a political campaign, regardless of whether or not it is in a house of worship, they shouldn't do it tax free"

So, you think we should start taxing political campaigns, Robert?

Pretty radical. Do you know anyone stupid enough to agree with you?

September 29, 2008 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Al qaeda attacked us, killing thousands of our citizens on 9/11. We had grounds to go after Afghanistan."

Iraq invaded an ally of ours and broke a truce agreement and repeatedly attacked our military personnel monitoring compliance under terms of the truce. We had grounds there too.

We were authorized under UN resolutions and had assistance from an international coalition.

September 29, 2008 1:27 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Red Baron said "ADF will win".

LOL, yeah right. And president Huckabee's going to do this and that, the Republicans were going to clean up in the 2006 election, Condoleeza rice was going to be Mccain's running mate, Colin Powel was going to be Mccain's running mate, there's a conspiracy to make Huckabee president and Mccain's in on it, and the law adding transgendered people to the anti-discrimination statute is going to be over turned, etc., etc.

Daniel said "Al qaeda attacked us, killing thousands of our citizens on 9/11. We had grounds to go after Afghanistan."

Red Baron said "Iraq invaded an ally of ours and broke a truce agreement and repeatedly attacked our military personnel monitoring compliance under terms of the truce. We had grounds there too."

Iraq invaded an ally prior to the 1991 war. Iraq had not invaded anyone prior to the 2003 war - you lie.

September 29, 2008 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Iraq invaded an ally prior to the 1991 war. Iraq had not invaded anyone prior to the 2003 war - you lie."

It's the same war, you idiot.

The length of time you cite is a testament to our patience as Hussein systematically violated the terms of the truce and blatantly attacked our military personnel that he had agreed to allow monitor his compliance with the truce. We made every attempt to persuade Hussein to abide by the truce agreement by diplomatic efforts.

September 29, 2008 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"these guys are saying that if you believe in their particular deity you don't have to obey the laws."

They didn't say that at all.

Al Gore, patron saint of lunacy, did say something like that though.

In New York last week, Gore suggested that citizens should engage in civil disobedience to stop coal-burning plants.

If you worship Mother Earth, therefore, St. Al says, "you don't have to obey the laws".

Imagine that.

September 29, 2008 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How low can they go?

The Democratic-majority Congress, which now has an approval rating of 9%, provided fresh evidence of their incompetence today. Despite the assurances of Wild-eyed Nancy Pelosi and Grand Barney Frank that they had negotiated an agreement, the House today rejected the bail-out plan. Main Street will soon run out of credit and will have this bunch of ne'er-do-wells to blame.

You'll remember the Democrats took over Congress two years with a bunch of promises they have yet to deliver on.

Barack I'm-bringing-change Obama who has voted in lock-step with these losers for three years has some explainin' to do!

(maybe when he says "change", he means an assortment of coins to feed the meters on Capitol Hill)

September 29, 2008 4:28 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 29, 2008 5:13 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Red baron said "It's the same war, you idiot."

LOL, you truly are a moron. Only a desperate fool (such as you)would claim that a period of over ten years without hostilities is a war. No rational person thinks those two seperate wars were the same war. There was two seperate votes by congress to approve two seperate wars. If it was the same war there wouldn't have been a vote in 2002.

September 29, 2008 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

You should check the facts before you go spouting off. The question is "How low will the GOP go?" The Roll Call Vote tells the story.

GOP 133 no, 65 yes

Democrats 95 no, 140 yes

We have the GOP House mavericks to thanks for scuttling this bill.

September 29, 2008 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

So there you go Anon. Are you happy now? Your "ne'er do well...loser... GOP buddies in the House have done their obstructionist best, once again.

What a timely reminder for all voters that Obama/Biden is the change we need.

September 29, 2008 5:37 PM  
Blogger David S. Fishback said...

Back to the constitutional issue raised by Jim's piece, the issue really is as follows:

As I understand it, no tax exempt organizations are permitted to endorse political candidates. That is because donations to a charitable organization are tax deductible, and those organizations need not pay taxes on their income for charitable purposes. The reason for barring political activity is that taxpayers should not have to underwrite the candidacies of those with whom they may disagree. If houses of worship wish to endorse candidates, then they can do so so long as they give up their tax exempt status.
The point is that the law should neither favor nor discriminate against religious organizations. If they wish to have a tax exempt status, then they must follow the same restrictions as any other tax exempt institution.

September 29, 2008 6:54 PM  
Blogger Tish said...

Well stated, David. It does seem counter-intuitive sometimes: one of the ways we exercise our freedom of religion is to live the values of these religions. In a democratic society, voting these values is second nature.

Many thousands of religious leaders of many faiths and denominations have found it perfectly workable to teach and lead their congregations in the values of their religions and have faith in their congregations' abilities to vote their values. Perhaps the real problem is that these ministers do not have faith in their own congregations.

September 29, 2008 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You should check the facts before you go spouting off. The question is "How low will the GOP go?" The Roll Call Vote tells the story.

GOP 133 no, 65 yes

Democrats 95 no, 140 yes

We have the GOP House mavericks to thanks for scuttling this bill.

So there you go Anon. Are you happy now? Your "ne'er do well...loser... GOP buddies in the House have done their obstructionist best, once again.

What a timely reminder for all voters that Obama/Biden is the change we need."

CBTS,

The "maverick" Republicans made clear their opposition to the bill. Pelosi and Frank as leaders of the majority party were responsible for negotiating and moving forward when they had swayed enough legislators.

They said they had the votes and announced it. They apparently didn't have their ducks in a row and have caused a crash on Wall Street today by announcing agreement prematurely. Amazing when you consider that over one-third of Democrats weren't even on board.

From what I hear, the big problem that was right before the vote, Pelosi gave an inflammatory partisan speech blaming the whole crisis on Republicans and changing a bunch of minds.

This is egregious behavior. Obama should be asked if he supports removing Pelosi from her position as majority leader. She's bad for the country.

September 29, 2008 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The reason for barring political activity is that taxpayers should not have to underwrite the candidacies of those with whom they may disagree."

David,

If this is truly the reason, it doesn't make sense because the law forbids c3's from endorsing candidates even if there is no expenditure of funds.

There is no harm whatsoever in letting tax-exempt organizations, including churches, be full-fledged constituents with interests and points of view.

If an AIDS clinic, for example, felt a certain candidate supports their cause, why shouldn't they be entitled to endorse the individual, informing their supporters about what they feel would be best for the cause they support? Why should they lose their tax-exempt status for voicing the best interest of their cause?

September 29, 2008 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Many thousands of religious leaders of many faiths and denominations have found it perfectly workable to teach and lead their congregations in the values of their religions and have faith in their congregations' abilities to vote their values."

btw, Tish, I agree that what you say here is the best course of action for churches.

I just don't think it should be a law.

September 29, 2008 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"LOL, you truly are a moron. Only a desperate fool (such as you)would claim that a period of over ten years without hostilities is a war. No rational person thinks those two seperate wars were the same war. There was two seperate votes by congress to approve two seperate wars. If it was the same war there wouldn't have been a vote in 2002."

Sorry, Preya, you're wrong. It was the same war. Moreover, there were not ten years without hostilities. Saddam continued to attack American forces and, indeed, bin Laden used the actions of America in the reversal of the Kuwaut invasion, as a pretext for his attack on New York City.

Further the vote in 2002 was about how to enforce the truce provisions from the conflict that began with Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. Saddam had blatantly violated them and the U.N. resolutions from that conflict were the legal basis of the second invasion to remove Hussein from power and replace his Baathist regime with a democracy representing the Iraqi people.

No go get some freedom fries and disgustingly smother them with gravy and cream cheese.

Don't laugh, folks.

It's considered a delicacy in Canada.

September 29, 2008 10:09 PM  
Blogger David S. Fishback said...

Anon says:

"If this is truly the reason, it doesn't make sense because the law forbids c3's from endorsing candidates even if there is no expenditure of funds."

You have too crabbed a view of expenditure of funds. If a minister endorses a candidate from the pulpit of his church, there are two expenditures -- which came from tax deductible contributions: The minister's salary and all the expenses involved in building and maintaining the physical plant.

September 29, 2008 11:14 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Anon freak said "It was the same war.".

Nonsense. The 1991 war ended and there was no fighting until the U.S. attacked again in 2003.

Anonfreak said "Moreover, there were not ten years without hostilities."

That's correct. There were 12 years without hostilities. There were some minor incidents but by no means was there the widespread conflict that could be called war.

Anonfreak said "bin Laden used the actions of America in the reversal of the Kuwaut invasion, as a pretext for his attack on New York City.".

Bin laden had nothing to do with Iraq. In 1991 the U.S. forced Iraq out of Kuwait. In no way could the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait be considered a pretext for the 2003 war - Iraq was no longer in Kuwait. You're a fool and a liar.

Anonfreak said "Further the vote in 2002 was about how to enforce the truce provisions from the conflict that began with Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.".

No, it was to authorize a new war on the false pretext of weapons of mass destruction. The bill was specifically titled "To Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq":

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2002/roll455.xml

Once again, and read this SLOWLY so you understand it this time: Iraq was expelled from Kuwait in 1991, a non-occupation of Kuwait couldn't have been a justification for the 2003 war.

Now read up on your American history, you need it:


http://americanhistory.about.com/b/2008/02/27/end-of-the-gulf-war.htm

On February 27, 1991, the first Gulf War came to an end when the Iraqi government announced acceptance of the UN resolution. Later that day, US president George H. W. Bush announced that the war was officially over.

Not a truce, OFFICIALLY the end of the war. The war in 2003 was a second war and in no way did the by then non-occupation of Kuwait justify that war.

Anon-freak said "No (sic) go get some freedom fries and disgustingly smother them with gravy and cream cheese.".

They're called French fries and its covered with mozzarella and gravy, not cream cheese and gravy. Its called Poutine you unworldly savage.

September 30, 2008 12:32 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Geez anon-freak, its pretty sad when a Canadian has got to explain American history to you. What a moron.

September 30, 2008 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

The "maverick" Republicans made clear their opposition to the bill. Pelosi and Frank as leaders of the majority party were responsible for negotiating and moving forward when they had swayed enough legislators.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership and whip organizations are responsible for delivering GOP votes, especially on such important legislation. We all know the "mavericks" are the few remaining Bush Republicans, the "our way or the highway" crowd who are willing to obstruct progress and let the stock market make its historic 777 point crash just to make a point. Their apparent point yesterday was something like "We don't like Pelosi saying the economy has failed because of Bush/GOP policies so we won't vote the way she or Bush or Boehner want us to. Screw Wall Street and Main Street, we don't care."

They said they had the votes and announced it. They apparently didn't have their ducks in a row and have caused a crash on Wall Street today by announcing agreement prematurely. Amazing when you consider that over one-third of Democrats weren't even on board.

The Democrats said they'd deliver 130-140 votes and they delivered 140. GOP House leader Boehner said he had the votes to assure passage after he and Roy Blount worked for days to whip up the votes needed to save the economy. But guess what, Boehner and Blount's efforts failed.

In the 10 days leading up to Monday’s vote, Boehner worked quietly with Democrats and the White House to push a plan resembling what Treasury sent to Capitol Hill. Along the way, he eased opposition by co-opting some of his leadership colleagues — tapping Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, a one-time challenger, to negotiate the deal with the Bush administration and Democrats in both chambers.

Boehner and Blunt, in turn, were able to work with the White House to persuade Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor — a potential Boehner rival — and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to support the measure and speak in favor of it at a three-hour meeting Sunday night, despite the fact that the two had taken the lead in crafting a Republican alternative that solidified opposition to the underlying bill.

One member called it a “master stroke” on Boehner’s part — but it wasn’t enough.

...the fact remains that a majority of Democrats stood with Pelosi while a majority of Republicans put distance between themselves and Boehner.


Boehner's failure could cost him his job

From what I hear, the big problem that was right before the vote, Pelosi gave an inflammatory partisan speech blaming the whole crisis on Republicans and changing a bunch of minds.

It's good to learn you hear things while hiding in your cave. Too bad you hear things wrong. Here's the text of Pelosi's speech Please show us the words she uttered that justify your elected GOP officials letting the stock market crash farther than it ever has before. That is egregious behavior. 67% of GOP House members voted against this bail out and should be taken to the woodshed IMHO.

This is egregious behavior. Obama should be asked if he supports removing Pelosi from her position as majority leader. She's bad for the country.

This November, voters will take care of removing the GOP "mavericks" who'd rather screw with the economy than fix it.

September 30, 2008 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This November, voters will take care of removing the GOP "mavericks" who'd rather screw with the economy than fix it."

That's probably not true. The media and political leaders have done such a poor job explaining this crisis to the American people that they don't understand that the bailout was a bailout of Main Street and all the other streets in America, as well. Anyone who participates in a 401k plan or owns real estate or wants to borrow money to send their kids to college has big problems now.

Consequently, those who voted against the bailout have the support of the voters because the voters opposed the bailout. That's why 40% of Democrats in the House defied Pelosi and voted no.

They want to save their jobs,

September 30, 2008 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And 67% of the desperate GOP House members.

September 30, 2008 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I concur with David's understanding of the constitutional and practical issues involved in non-profit status for religious organizations.

Anon says ADF will win, McCain will win, Huckabee will win, Lawrence v. Texas will be reversed, perhaps maybe even Loving v. Virginia and Miranda. Then the sun will stop in the sky and the walls of Jericho will fall.

September 30, 2008 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anon says ADF will win, McCain will win, Huckabee will win,"

two outta three ain't bad

"Lawrence v. Texas will be reversed, perhaps maybe even Loving v. Virginia and Miranda."

Never said any of that. Typical lying Democrat.

"Then the sun will stop in the sky and the walls of Jericho will fall."

No, that's already happened. More amazing things are ahead.

September 30, 2008 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" said: "More amazing things are ahead.'
Is Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. "Anonymous" still hanging on to the fantasy of Montgomery County's voters casting their votes against basic human and civil rights for transgender citizens in the November election?
"Born yesterday" is a phrase that comes to mind when I think of Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. "Anonymous". I'm sure that a psychoanalyst would come up with a more appropriate description.
Citizen

September 30, 2008 9:17 PM  

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