Monday, October 06, 2008

Anti-Religion From LBJ

This Townhall.com article expresses sentiments with which I agree regarding the muzzle placed on political speech from the pulpit. The efforts of LBJ were without a doubt a violation of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. It's a wonder that he was not soundly rejected for stifling free speech. But then, it's not uncommon for the left to redefine and re-interpret the Constitution to better suit their motivations.

The tax exempt status of the church was intended to honor the importance of faith in our lives. Before this nefarious deed was forced upon us, the church was always a voice that guided in a positive manner. Indeed, the church was a major factor in persuading the populace of the importance of independence prior to our fight for it in the early days of our nation. It stood against slavery throughout our early history and supported the movement against segregation. The church was our national conscience.

But then Johnson found himself and his policy proposals opposed by the church, so he moved to silence them or make them pay. Many churches are small. Possibly most of them. Every dime counts and to have to choose between preaching against the proponents of harmful policy or paying taxes runs counter to the intent of their exempt status. In other words, it is unAmerican. We have not been helped in the least by efforts to remove faith from the public square. Our culture wallows in the gutter as a reult. We need to support any efforts to overturn this self-serving act and return to a time when preachers were free to speak out against politicians directly if they so feel the need, without the risk of losing precious funds to taxation.

Some are concerned about the influence on people of a Bible-thumping preacher who's beliefs might be anti-science, based on that which cannot be proven. But this lame argument deflects attention from whether or not the idea proposed has merit. I think Fred Phelps is a good example of improper preaching being rejected, and his is rejected by people of faith more strongly than those without faith. Such concerns are baseless. I encourage everyone to add this to the list of things to change when contacting representatives. The government overstepped their Constitutional boundaries when they instituted this horrible policy.

63 comments:

Les said...

No comment.

Dan Trabue said...

Indeed, the church was a major factor in persuading the populace of the importance of independence prior to our fight for it in the early days of our nation. It stood against slavery throughout our early history and supported the movement against segregation. The church was our national conscience.

The church can still do all of that. Churches can talk about issues - abortion, war, peace, slavery, immigration, taxes, etc, etc, etc.

What they can't legally do is endorse a candidate.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I fail to see where the outrage is here. Do you really want different denominations becoming partisan hacks, linking up transient political goals with the preaching of the Gospel?

Like Dan said, churches can advocate on issues, and urge members to vote with those issues in mind. I don't like the idea of any preacher in any church getting up in the pulpit, which should be reserved for preaching the Gospel, and saying, "Vote for candidates X, Y, and Z." This gives a certain religious imprimatur to a candidate that none deserve.

hashfanatic said...

imho, what needs to happen is that faith communities need to put forth clearly that they neither need, nor desire, the opinions of evangelical atheists, rabblerousing weirdos, political extremists, or other such mental defectives and suppressive sorts, to interfere or criticize such respectable, established faith communities with harassment regarding internal church matters or tax accounting, both of which are private matters that are not the business of the above mentioned social parasites

until this happens, the church will have no peace, as their enemies are determined to destroy them, brick by brick, and they've been cowed by false teachings to accept this fate as their due

it is not, and they should not

only one side is right here, and it is the side of evil, not that of good, as "divisive" as this may seem

hashfanatic said...

correction...good, not of evil

Marshall Art said...

Poppycock. You've endowed your preachers with far too much respect. They're human beings and even more importantly, they're citizens of the United States of America and have the right to voice their opinions. Johnson sought to silence their speech when that speech exposed him for the liberal he was.

Preaching the Gospel is also about how to apply that teaching to our lives. Our lives includes voting. If they only speak on issues, those who are aware will understand which candidate is supporting the wrong side of those issues. It has the same effect.

Yet there are some out there, for example, your typical Barry O supporter, who have no idea what either candidate supports and fall for the empty rhetoric Barry spews. If they were made aware, they might not be so keen to vote for him. And that's the very same reason that led to this restriction being instituted.

Also, it's not being applied fairly. It's very common to see Dem politicians speak before congregations and to pretend it's not campaigning is to be a blatant liar. Both Wright and Pfleger have spoken politically and to say that they weren't speaking in support of Barry O is also a obvious lie. Have they been tapped for taxation (that is, the church is which they spoke)?

This law was lib inspired and I've never heard anyone but a lib support it. Funny how that works. Of what is there to be afraid? I don't care if lib preachers try to use Scripture to support their preferences. They couldn't to support Barry without really twisting Scripture and likewise, they couldn't use it to the same effect to preach against McCain, as he isn't as repulsive (in other words, there's more that's counter-Scripture in the Obamanable campaign than there is in Mickey's).

The church was given the tax-exempt status for the good it does for our culture. The preachers in the church do a service by preaching the Word, applying it to the everyday, and pointing out which candidate comes closest to abiding the Word. This is the way it oughta be now, and I say that with full knowledge of the plethora of liberal hereseies infesting the Body of Christ.

Marshall Art said...

Hmmm. Hash's comments snuck in before mine, which were in response to GKS and Dan.

Vinny said...

It is an interesting story, but Johnson was reelected in 1954 with 85% of the vote. According to Robert Caro's Master of the Senate, Johnson did not put out any campaign literature, only ran one ad, and only gave one speech during the campaign. It is hard for me to believe that he was afraid of a couple of preachers.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Conservatives don't like it for the simple reason they believe there is some kind of continuum between political rhetoric and practice on the one hand and an individual's faith commitments on the other. We've had this crap around for almost a generation, and it has devolved to the point that a person's faith can be called in to question simply because of the political positions that individual takes. Indeed, various political and social practices - please read abortion and same-sex marriage here - have become tests of faith among some elements.

This is dangerous on any number of levels, both for society and for religious groups. Part of our religious strength has always been the separation of church and state - with no formal ties to drag down religious belief a la Western Europe, where national churches are discredited largely because elite institutions in general were discredited by the abysmal 20th century - our churches continue to live on (I wouldn't say "thrive") and there is much serious discussion of all sorts of relevant religious and theological issues. Also, there is rampant religious pluralism in the US, a development that any thinking human being should welcome, especially in an age when religion has become the house-servant of so much violence in the rest of the world.

Conservatives believe, for some reason I honestly do not understand, that differences in political and social ideas and practices are more than just matters for debate and a possibility for compromise. They believe they are rooted in something far deeper, and therefore compromise is impossible. A good example is the constant bewailing concerning abortion (I hate to bring up this topic, but I use it here as an example only; no tangents, please). I find it difficult to understand (and I mean that) how the practical effects of our current pro-choice reality in America is somehow equivalent in any manner, fashion, or form, to the purposeful genocide of millions of undesirables in Nazi Germany. Yet, that opinion is spouted blithely by people who, obviously, do not know better. I realize those who are anti-abortion believe, as you do, the fetus is a full human being; not only do I not believe that, more important, the law does not recognize that, nor should it (how can a fetus have the freedom of speech?), and to grant it "person" status under the Constitution would be a legal, not to say scientific, travesty. I believe, however, that individuals can disagree on this issue and still be members in good standing of the same church, sit down at a table and share a meal,laugh at the same jokes, work together, and do all sorts of things together, including vote for candidates who support their very different positions on this issue.

Conservatives, however, believe that none of this is possible, and more. They believe this issue of such transcendent importance that it is not enough to ensure that abortion is outlawed; those who support pro-choice policies are to be vilified as supporters of the murder of millions of innocents, to be equated with the biggest political and social criminals of the 20th century, and to be denied to privilege of calling themselves Christians, let alone full members of society. Since I personally have experienced this type of behavior, in comments here on this blog, please don't ask for examples, either, Marshall because you know it's true.

The separation of political rhetoric and religious/theological language is necessary to keep the transient, though noble and even necessary tasks, of politics separate from the discussion of the relationship between human being and one another and their God (or lack of one, as in Buddhism). There is certainly some kind of relationship, but it is tenuous, and the two spheres should be kept as separate as possible.

I see no reason why an individual candidate, of whatever stripe, should not speak before a church congregation, as long as other candidates are given the same opportunity. For a "Preacher of the Gospel" - the legal title any minister has, for tax purposes - to stand in the pulpit and give vocal support not just to certain policies, but to individual candidates not only blurs those lines, but would be unprofessional in the extreme, a bit like a teacher in a classroom telling his or her students how to vote, or a doctor, during an office visit, telling his or her patients how to vote.

Erudite Redneck said...

Look, the issue is very simple.

If a preacher stands in the pulpit and endorses a Republican, he is, in very real effect, relying partly on my tax money to do so -- the taxes that church did not pay. It goes to the very heart of freedom -- to vote, to influence people directly in the voting booth, in a way that is more fundamental even than the fact that MA objects over certain government policy, such as his tax money that may or may not be going to "pay for" abortion, or the fact that I object to certain government policy, such as my tax money going to pay for an outrageous, wasteful, immoral war in Iraq.

We all win some and lose some when it comes to policy -- that's the very definition of compromise and governance in a democratic republic. But we all lose when ANY tax-exempt organization misuses its tax-exempt status, that is, when it uses MY tax money directly to advance POLITICAL candidates that I oppose.

Preach all you want, preacher. Endorse any candidate you want, pastor. But pay your own way -- DON'T expect ME to pay it.

Marshall Art said...

Yet, Vinny, the motivation for the restriction stands. Johnson did not like what was being said about him from the pulpit and moved to squelch the speech through the threat of losing the tax exemption. This action was in direct violation of the right to free speech. The tax exemption did not carry such restrictions nor did it assume such speech was detrimental. But Johnson, and other cowards like him obviously found the speech detrimental. Instead of manning up and facing the criticisms head on with a counterpoint, he fascistically put the boot down economically. Bad form indeed.

I think the three of you have a problem with understanding the founders' intent. This mythical separation, that is, separation as the left views it, was never intended whatsoever. What separation existed was a restriction on what Congress was allowed to do, not what the people were allowed to do regarding what they could or could not say from the pulpit. As such, this restriction is in conflict with the freedoms afforded and the tax exempt status granted that community which was considered absolutely a pillar equal to liberty, that being the Church and religious teaching. And when did this conflict really take root? When Johnson saw a problem with preachers who could see the error of his policies. He understood the problem of a preacher being honest and courageous enough to point out such errors from the perpsective of Scripture. He understood how God's Will might be more important in the hearts of Americans than political agenda. That was a threat to a coward who obviously didn't have the brains to spin his crap to their satisfaction. Far easier to shut them up or force them to pay that of which the founders saw fit to relieve them.

And how much better it has turned out for the left since it's happened. It was followed by the removal of religious references in the schools and a heightened alarm over the lack of the mythical separation so that any vestige of faith could be eliminated from the public square. It was never itended to be so. We were never intended to be the pluralistic society in the mold of a Barry Lynn. But what that attitude has wrought is the ability to argue from a perspective that denies what most people believe, or would believe if they were allowed to be free to discuss it anywhere, anytime, including in political discussions. The fact of the matter is plain to honest men: The left plays the mythical separation card to give them the edge they need to push through their dangerous and selfish policies.

We do NOT lose when tax exempt organizations are allowed their God given freedom to speak their mind without risk to that status. If you cannot counter their arguments that you feel are lacking in scientific support, then perhaps either your science isn't sound or properly explained, or the people believe the science doesn't trump the will of God.

Get some balls and back your positions and take it on the chin if it goes against you, but don't take the cowardly way out and silence your opposition. That's where this issue is at.

Vinny said...

Yet, Vinny, the motivation for the restriction stands.

In 1954, Johnson’s seat was secure and he was a loyal member of the Conservative Southern Caucus in the Senate. What liberal policies do you think he was advocating at the time that would have inspired the opposition of preachers and what makes you think he would have felt threatened?

It may have been someone’s motivation to shut up some preachers but I am skeptical that Johnson was the driving force. Perhaps he was providing cover for someone else in exchange for some other favor.

Marshall Art said...

My research hasn't been that detailed, Vinny. It's hardly the point, however. There's no compelling reason for denying a church their tax exempt status for speaking out against a politician when the preacher sees a problem with his policy proposals, or worse, his past support for proposals, that conflict with what he is teaching his congregation. It is not merely the job of a preacher to preach the Good News, but if possible, to explain how to apply that News to our everyday life, and to show how one action, such as voting for a candidate that supports abortion or homosexual marriage, is akin to partaking of those sinful practices themselves.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall opined:

There's no compelling reason for denying a church their tax exempt status for speaking out against a politician when the preacher sees a problem with his policy proposals

As has already been pointed out here, Marshall, any non-profit can criticize policies if they wish. No harm, no foul. What they can't do and retain their tax exempt status is endorse a specific candidate or party.

Again: Churches and non-profits CAN criticize policy. My church does it all the time. My (conservative) church that I grew up in did it. You can criticize abortion policies. You can criticize wars. You can praise environmental initiatives. You can heap scorn upon energy policies.

Non-profits CAN criticize policies.

Dan Trabue said...

For a more authoritative answer:

Under current law, 501(c)(3) organizations MAY engage in the following:

• Conduct voter registration and nonpartisan get-out-the vote efforts.
• Educate the public on issues and encourage participation in the political process.
• Educate all candidates and political parties on your issues.
• Conduct or participate in a nonpartisan candidate forum.
• Make presentations on your organization’s issue to platform committees, campaign staff, candidates, media, and the general public.
• Work on behalf of a ballot measure.
• Continue normal lobbying on issues.
• Rent or sell mailing lists to candidates at fair market value, if made available to all candidates. making available nonpartisan analysis, study or research;

501(c)(3) organizations
may NOT engage in the following:

• Endorse or oppose a candidate—implicit or explicit.
• Coordinate activities with a candidate.
• Contribute money, time, or facilities to a candidate.
• Set up, fund, or manage a PAC.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I think part of the problem is Marshall is unclear on the distinction between "policies" and the politicians who advocate for these policies, and I think, to an extent, it is a legal fiction, because "policies" aren't "things", but the deliberate actions human beings perform to pursue certain ends. These are advocated for, and supported, by particular individuals in positions of power - politicians - who are either supported or not supported by large groups of individuals.

At the same time, while the distinction here is a bit blurry in reality, in law - and it is a legal issue we are discussing, not a religious or social or philosophical issue - there is most clearly a distinction, and Dan, Vinny, and ER have it right. Dan has been most clear - no one is silenced by the restriction on endorsing individual candidates from the pulpit. Indeed, to take the point to a certain logical extreme, if a preacher of the gospel urges his or her congregants to vote to deny support to support legalized gambling (a big issue for United Methodists in IL, where both riverboat gambling and the lottery are opposed by my denomination), and in local races there are two candidates, one of whom supports legalized gambling and one who does not, the implication should be clear, even if it is not directly stated.

I do wonder, however, what you mean by "the left". I would like an example of who you mean by "the left". Do you mean, say Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Socialist? Do you mean Tom Hayden, former SDS activist and Democratic politician? Do you mean "the left" as it has traditionally been understood, social democrats, socialists, and communists? Or do you mean run-of-the-mill liberal types who run the gamut from Barbara Boxer to Teddy Kennedy?

Vinny said...

My research hasn't been that detailed, Vinny. It's hardly the point, however. There's no compelling reason for denying a church their tax exempt status for speaking out against a politician when the preacher sees a problem with his policy proposals . . . .

Contributions to churches, schools, and other 501(c)(3) charitable organizations are tax deductible while donations to political campaigns are not. This gives an advantage to the charities in fund raising. If a charity wishes to retain its fund raising advantage, then I don’t see anything particularly controversial about restricting it from engaging in the kind of direct political activities for which tax deductible donations are not allowed.

That is why I am curious about the actual history of this provision. It could be that it was simply intended to preserve the fund raising advantage that charities have over political campaigns.

Democracy Lover said...

The tax exempt status is conferred upon organizations because they are presumed to perform a service for the community (city, state, nation) as a whole. Engaging in partisan political activity is not a service, in fact it nullifies the tax-exempt status of any organization that does it - foundations, associations, any group.

Nothing in the IRS code prevents a church from denouncing a public policy they deem harmful, or advocating one they deem helpful. The line is only crossed when the endorse and support one candidate vs. another or one political party vs. another. That is quite clear and is most certainly not a violation of the First Amendment.

The First Amendment provides freedom of speech and religion, not the freedom from taxes. It is long past time when communities (cities, states and the nation) re-evaluate the service actually performed by churches to the community at large. If all the church does is help its own members and pursue its own goals, then no tax exemption should be provided.

Obviously the act of worship does not benefit the community at large, nor does the religious education of the church member's children. There is no rationale for exempting the worship and education facilities of a church from taxes.

Some churches do provide real service to the community and they should be given tax concessions to support those services, but a blanket exemption for all church property and income is ridiculous.

P.S. Barack Obama has been a regular attender of a Christian church for decades and active in its ministry to others. John McCain hardly ever darkens the door of a church except when it is useful to his current political campaign. If a candidate's Christian faith is important to you, then you have to vote for Obama.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read anything in the Constitution that grants tax-exempt status to anyone, much less a church.

Marshall Art said...

Gentleman,

I have taken some time to find what I could to answer the objections to my position. First of all, the 1954 amendment carried Johnson's name upon it. He was it's prime author and instigator.

Secondly, churches are not obliged to apply for 501(c)(3) status and the IRS code states that churches are exempt from taxation automatically. In other words, the fact that a church is a church is all that necessary to be tax exempt.

Thirdly, the very notion of taxing a church puts them in a submissive position to the state and that's the very thing the founders sought to avoid in their crafting of the religious freedom portion of the Constitution. Indeed, for separationists, tax exemption truly separates the two from each other and one is not subordinate to the other.

Fourth, the very notion that the Constitution doesn't "grant" tax exempt status to the church is outright silly and ignorant of the intention behind the non-establishment clause and protection of religious freedom.

Fifth, by Geoffrey's own perception, the notion that a preacher can't speak against a given candidate can be easily gamed through those actions of which the church has not been so attacked, that is, speaking on the issues that a certain candidate might support which is in opposition to the position of his opponent.

Sixth, the threat of taxation has thus far been subjectively applied and as such is a real weapon against churches seeking to instruct their congregants in the faith that conflict with those who report them. Not all of Barry Lynn's targets have suffered under this "law". The criteria for indictments has been ambiguous.

Seventh, as I have already suggested, the idea of separating a church in this manner was to allow for absolute freedom from influence by the government, but not to restrict influencing the government. The Church was seen as a moral compass and guide and a foundational pillar of our new goverment. Since the 1954 action, the church has watered down its message to avoid losing the status that the IRS has said it has automatically.

For a better explanation I offer the following lengthy article It's worth reading it all.

Dan Trabue said...

re: Applied unfairly, wah, wah...

Liberal church may lose tax exempt status...

In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991’s Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that “good people of profound faith” could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, “Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster.”


OR

Church may lose tax exempt status due to Obama speaking to congregation.

OR

Church loses tax exempt status for posting an ad endorsing Clinton.

In my traditional Baptist upbringing, we have a STRONG tradition of being opposed to entwining religion and politics in a negative way. It is a fundamental position of historic Baptists that we don't want to mix church and state - NOT for the state's sake (ie, not that we stay out of their hair), but for the CHURCH'S sake.

Having been persecuted in many places, we knew/know firsthand the potential for abuse of such an entangling.

Now, that does not mean that Baptists and anabaptists don't preach topical sermons about policies, but we traditionally strongly disapprove of giving a hint of endorsing a particular candidate.

Sadly, some Baptists and even a few anabaptists have moved away from this centuries old tradition.

Dan Trabue said...

Here's an interesting treatise on the history of the separation of church and state in the US.

It includes this snippet:

In Virginia, religious persecution, directed at Baptists and, to a lesser degree, at Presbyterians, continued after the Declaration of Independence. The perpetrators were members of the Church of England, sometimes acting as vigilantes but often operating in tandem with local authorities. Physical violence was usually reserved for Baptists, against whom there was social as well as theological animosity. A notorious instance of abuse in 1771 of a well-known Baptist preacher, "Swearin Jack" Waller, was described by the victim: "The Parson of the Parish [accompanied by the local sheriff] would keep running the end of his horsewhip in [Waller's] mouth, laying his whip across the hymn book, etc. When done singing [Waller] proceeded to prayer. In it he was violently jerked off the stage; they caught him by the back part of his neck, beat his head against the ground, sometimes up and sometimes down, they carried him through the gate . . . where a gentleman [the sheriff] gave him . . . twenty lashes with his horsewhip."

The persecution of Baptists made a strong, negative impression on many patriot leaders, whose loyalty to principles of civil liberty exceeded their loyalty to the Church of England in which they were raised. James Madison was not the only patriot to despair, as he did in 1774, that the "diabolical Hell conceived principle of persecution rages" in his native colony. Accordingly, civil libertarians like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson joined Baptists and Presbyterians to defeat the campaign for state financial involvement in religion in Virginia.


But there is much more there that makes for some great historic reading.

I'd like to know more about "Swearin' Jack" Waller...

Vinny said...

First of all, the 1954 amendment carried Johnson's name upon it. He was it's prime author and instigator.

Have you ever heard of the Marshall Plan where the United States helped rebuild Western Europe after World War II? Its prime author and instigator was President Harry Truman. Nevertheless, he let the plan be identified with his Secretary of State General George Marshall because Truman knew that it would be easier to get it through Congress that way. Truman knew that Republicans would be much more comfortable going along with a respected general rather than a hated Democratic President.

The point is that the name on a bill doesn’t necessarily prove who the driving force behind it was.

Secondly, churches are not obliged to apply for 501(c)(3) status and the IRS code states that churches are exempt from taxation automatically.

That is not accurate. Under the Tax Code, Churches are exempt from filing for 501(c)(3) status but they still have to meet the requirements of 501(c)(3) in order to be exempt from taxation.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

You offered nothing that counters my argument. Your presentation speaks to government inteference in the preaching of that minister. In the same way, threatening tax exemption does the same thing if only on a less physically threatening manner. The Constitution states that the government is not to establish a religion or get in the way of how a religion is practiced (child sacrifice notwithstanding). The insertion of this bill in '54 in an intrusion into how a preacher chooses to teach his congregation the Word of God and it's application in everyday life.

Secondly, I did not whine about liberals getting any breaks, but only that the criteria is unevenly or unfairly applied. In your own examples where you have reprinted exerpts (not the links---haven't the time now to read them) you've stated that the preacher didn't endorse either candidate but was taking heat nonetheless. That supports my words nicely. Thank you.

So that the point is not lost, your story of Jack Waller shows the need for the 1st Amendment, as well as the need to understand that the government is restricted from that very type of interference primarily, and all lesser forms of it entirely. Once again, you support my position nicely. Thanks again.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

I understand your point perfectly. However, nothing I've come across so far suggests that Johnson DIDN'T play a large role in the situation. I'm allowing for the possibility, if that makes you feel better. But as regards the issue at hand, whether that chucklehead was the main man or merely allowed his name to be used is neither here nor there. What's important is that the move is an example of government intrusion into the practice of religion and as such is anti-Constitutional. The intent was to quell the free expression of the preacher from the pulpit. The 1st protects freedom of speech and the intent was freedom of political speech. What is more political than speaking against the king? That was the problem the founders were addressing. Our version is the politician since we aren't a monarchy. Thus, this is absolutely counter-Constitutional without question.

Vinny said...

Thus, this is absolutely counter-Constitutional without question.

Why so wishy-washy? Why not declare that it is “clearly positively absolutely counter-Constitutional undoubtedly without question?"

Just for the record, I would find it much more convincing if you could cite a Supreme Court case or something written by one of the Founding Fathers that suggests that the establishment clause was intended to place churches outside the jurisdiction of the Federal government. I don’t know of any myself. Moreover, even if that is the correct interpretation, the government would still have to establish some criteria to determine what constitutes a church and what doesn’t. Otherwise, every citizen could make himself immune from taxation by declaring himself to be a church.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

"Why so wishy-washy?"

Just saving keystrokes.

What Supreme Court battle necessary to understand this:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

This pretty much covers the entire issue. They can't establish a state religion, though this isn't about that. But they certainly can't decide for us how to practice our religion. They tell us we can't speak politically, and they can't tell us we can't complain about what's going on. But apparently, if the complaint is about a specific politician, somehow that's restricted? How? Where else was this ever put forth except before the amendment was ratified and understood (as Dan's exerpted piece demonstrated), and not until 1954. I think a SCOTUS debate would be superfluous. The language is clear. (If there was any such debate, I'd prefer it be over what has since been covered by the Amendment that is outside of the intent, which was political speech, not things like porn or saying "fuck" on television.)

Marshall Art said...

I think it should be apparent that this mandate is completely unenforceable. A minister can move off church grounds, speak to the very same group of people and state that he's speaking as a citizen when he says that supporting Obama is counter to Christian teaching because of the things he supports and thus he encourages people to vote otherwise. He could further skirt the law by speaking indvidually to all of the people of the congregation in various other settings. Congregants could phone him at home and ask his opinion on whether or not a Christian should support a man like Obama and why or why not. They could ask him how HE'LL vote and why.

Vinny said...

I think it should be apparent that this mandate is completely unenforceable. A minister can move off church grounds, speak to the very same group of people and state that he's speaking as a citizen when he says that supporting Obama is counter to Christian teaching because of the things he supports and thus he encourages people to vote otherwise.

BINGO! BINGO! BINGO!

This is absolutely true and this is exactly what the IRS Regulations say. That is why this provision does not infringe upon any individual's right to free speech in any meaningful way. The only thing the preacher cannot do is endorse a candidate on behalf of the church itself.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

First of all, that still makes it an infringement of his Constitutional right of free speech and free expression of his faith. It is still a forbidden intrusion by the feds into the life of that church.

Secondly, how can you suggest that any preacher during a sermon of any kind says, "On behalf of Our Lady of Perpetual Motion Church, I say to you my friends in faith..." Uh uh. That won't get it done, my friend.

The amendment protects political speech in particular, it prohibits government intrusion into the expression of faith. Speaking against a politician is political speech, and if the politician's positions are in contradiction to the teachings of that faith, then the preacher is well within his rights to speak against him and his worthiness as a candidate. The threat to his church's tax status is government intrusion designed to inhibit his right of free speech. Buff that apple any way you like and it still shines the same way.

Vinny said...

First of all, that still makes it an infringement of his Constitutional right of free speech and free expression of his faith. It is still a forbidden intrusion by the feds into the life of that church.

Don’t be ridiculous. No where in the Constitution does it say that a church’s donors are entitled to a tax deduction for their contributions. It is entirely within the legislature’s purview to decide what type of charitable contributions it wishes to encourage with tax benefits for the donors. There is nothing wrong with the legislature deciding that contributions to political campaigns do not warrant a tax deduction.

A minister can campaign for anyone he wants and still maintain his church’s tax exempt status. He simply has to apply for tax exempt status under some section other than 501(c)(3). If his congregation needs their minister to campaign for specific candidates because they are too stupid to figure out who they should vote for based on the moral principles that the minister teaches, then they are going to have to support him with after tax dollars.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

May I just add, as a clergy spouse, that we do not feel it appropriate, from a professional standpoint, to endorse any candidate publicly. We have no signs in our yard, and the Obama campaign called and asked specifically if they could put one there. Since our house is owned by the church, it would be a violation of the law as well as gross professional misconduct to do so.

Mark said...

Good job, Geoff! Don't let those Obama nuts put their signs in your yard!

I can see how embarrassed you would be if someone thought you actually supported that idiot.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Mark, I honestly fail to see how anyone - and I do mean what follows quite honestly - could call Barack Obama an "idiot". You may disagree with his politics; you may disagree with particular policy positions the man takes. To describe him as an "idiot", however, is simply ridiculous. He is far more intelligent than any of us here. He is articulate. He is thoughtful, careful, calm, and reasonable. He is, indeed, as even conservative Christopher Buckley (son of the late William F. Buckley) says, "a first rate temperament".

What I do on my blog I do on my own. What Lisa and I do together, here in our own little corner of paradise known as Boone County, Illinois, however, is something totally different. In private conversations, anyone would know where we stand politically, and where our sympathies lie in the Presidential campaign. Neither Lisa nor I, however, would ever do anything to even hint that she was abusing her authority as a community leader, a preacher of the Gospel, or a servant from the Church to the community, to advocate for a particular candidate in a public manner. Whether it's putting a candidate bumper sticker on either of our cars, a political sign on our yard (which would probably get the church's tax-exempt status yanked, because the parsonage is church property), and most definitely in the pulpit - such direct advocacy would be a gross abuse of power.

Here on the internet, however, I am just me; I am not a representative of any body, official or otherwise, nor do I have ties to any organization other than my membership at Poplar Grove UMC. I am, for want of any other description, just another individual.

Since you used the word "idiot" to describe Sen. Obama (a word I would never use to describe either candidate for President, or VP for that matter), I would ask for an example of his "idiocy". I am quite serious here, because the word "idiot" has a meaning - it refers to someone whose intelligence has not progressed beyond that of a young child of three years or so, and used to be a technical term for someone with severe developmental disabilities (when I was in HS, the term of art was "profoundly retarded", which is still a pretty ugly term, and obfuscates more than clarifies things).

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

"No where in the Constitution does it say that a church’s donors are entitled to a tax deduction for their contributions."

We're not concerning ourselves with the church's donors. We're talking about the church itself, the pastor of whom specifically. The money donated to the church belongs to the church and would be the money from which taxes would be paid. The church is exempt by nature of it being a church as described in the IRS code (did you read the link? It explains it quite well I thought). In the expression of his faith, in the teaching of it to his "flock", he is threatened with the loss of that exemption (that is the church--each church runs it's business differently) if he should speak freely. It would be sinful for a Christian to support a candidate who supports issues counter to Christian teaching. What matter is it if he infers the candidate by speaking only of the issue (if only that candidate supports it, it would be crystal clear)or by speaking directly that Obama supports sinful practices such as homosex marriage(thus behavior), the taking of innocent life (both before or after birth), and the theft of property by oppressive taxes? As I suggested before, the founders were rejecting the notion that it was unlawful for a person to speak out against the king. THAT is the intent of the freedom of speech clause. THAT is what drove the desire forit. We don't have kings, but we do have government leaders who, by that clause, are restricted from preventing anyone from speaking out against them directly. The church was exempted because of the firm belief that our new experiment required Christian morality to succeed. It was designed for a moral people as only a moral people would have the spine to deny the selfish natures of their humanity for higher purpose. We can see how the lack thereof has cause do much trouble in our society now. It snowballed after 1954 and the further removal of God from the public sphere since. The original intent was a great idea and this action has enabled the worst of our selves to despoil our culture. You don't seem to have a problem with that and for that I'm very sorry for you.

It's kinda funny, in a sad way. The pro-homo activists whine about how homosex marriage won't affect hetero marriage. It's a stupid argument because it's about the meaning of the word and the laws crafted upon that meaning, but more to the point, to allow a preacher to name a politician has no more affect on things than does the insightful comments of a Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Thomas Sowell or even, freakin' Rosie O'Donnell. But worse is, the preacher DOES have the right to speak as he pleases and it wasn't until Johnson or Johnson's home boys or whomever put his name on the bill decided that they didn't like a preacher speaking against them. The reason is simple, it's very easy to understand: The wrong don't want to be depicted as wrong. Here was one way to lessen the possibility of one's wrongness being exposed.

Take a previous example of a preacher speaking outside Biblical teaching: Fred Phelps. What is his main expression? "God hates fags!" This is absolute heresey and he has no Biblical support for this statement. I will defend any homosexual against such wonton rewriting of Scripture. It's not helping them or us for such crap to go on. But no one can state that the Bible supports the behavior in any form without doing what Phelps does, so for a preacher to point out when a politician is supporting legislation counter to Scripture, he has the right to point it out anytime or anywhere he wants, as granted by the Constitution, whether his congregants NEED him to or not, and his church's tax exemption is NOT to be touched. The law is unConstitutional and is to the benefit of scum and cowards. Men of honor face their accusers as men. The authors of this measure are without honor.

If you think the preacher is wrong, argue on the merits and make your case. Christians aren't by nature, sheep, even though they are referred to as a flock. (I can't speak for lib Christians, but that's another story) They can decide whether the opinion of the preacher is worthy or not for themselves. But there might be a question or doubt that only a preacher of some Biblical scholarship could clarify. You'd deny them both their rights on a baseless and selfish perspective. Really, Vinny. It's quite spineless and beneath you.

Keep in mind, the foolish don't need their preachers, their fav radio guys, their chosen politicians, their favorite Oprah types to help them be foolish. Take one of the above away, and they're still foolish. It is foolish to craft or tweak laws or practices due to the foolish among us.

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

You're free to feel the way you do regarding the appropriateness of political speech from the pulpit. Does that mean the rest of us have to feel that way? A preacher is still a citizen. A preacher still must preach and preach TO citizens and apply doctrine to everyday life. Everyday life involves the selection of leaders in our form of government. Christians should be electing leaders that are not prone to acting in non-Christian ways, either personally or professionally. I would also say it is less than Christian to vote for an idiot. Barry is an idiot for wanting to enact tax policy that has been proven detrimental time and time again. Bush has been an idiot every time he signed legislation laden with pork and earmarks. Barry's an idiot for wanting to raise taxes, and do so at the worst possible time, while Bush was NOT an idiot for cutting taxes as it ramped up revenues while stimulating productivity. Scholarship and smooth rhetoric do not a genius make. The guy can read. Big deal. The things he proposes are beyond idiotic. To call him an idiot is to be kind. It dosen't speak well for his supporters.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Marshall, this isn't about "feeling", but about professional ethics and the law. Is that so difficult for you to understand? I may "feel" that I deserve to have some money, and therefore am not wrong to steal it from someone. Yet, the law is very clear that such behavior is out of bounds.

All professions have a code of ethics that governs their conduct. Even if speaking out as you suggest were legal, which it is not, it would violate the very clear ethics set down in the United Methodist Discipline. It would also betray not only a lack of attention to professional ethics, but also a certain adolescent narcissism, making the entire issue about "me" and "my rights", an attitude that should not be a part of any pastor's attitude, professional or otherwise.

My wife feels very strongly about the Presidential contest going on. She feels even more strongly that to voice her opinions from the pulpit would violate not only her ordination, but her own sense of her role as pastoral leader to the community here. Most ministers who have any sense of professional ethics would agree with that.

Once again - it isn't about feeling, or opinion, but law and professional ethics and conduct. I hate to get snarky, but the truth is grown-ups understand the difference here, as evidenced by Vinny and Dan.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

As to your comments on the Bush tax cuts, please point to the evidence that they raised revenue. Since it has been proven over and over again that tax cuts do not raise revenue by using, you know, actual information from the Treasury Department, I would be interested to see your evidence.

As for Obama raising taxes, he would return the tax code to a more progressive, rather than regressive tilt, much as FDR did during the Depression. That is to say, those who can afford to do so, will pay. I fail to see, again, where that is bad, wrong, and it is certainly not idiotic.

Indeed, your commentary betrays a lack of understanding of the realities of public policy. It's like, you hear stuff somewhere - tax cuts raise revenue! - and you just repeat it. There has never been - and I do mean never - a single solitary study that showed that tax cuts raise revenue. Logically, it makes no sense anyway; if you and three other people each owe me a hundred dollars, but I reduce that debt to seventy-five dollars, how in the world do I take in more money? Please help me here.

Since actual economists have argued the tax code needs to return to a more progressive slant, and that making the Bush tax cuts permanent would only endanger not only discretionary spending, but that spending required by law - Bush has accumulated more debt, not even counting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, than all other President's combined, and considering he inherited the possibility of on-going federal surpluses to pay down the federal debt that is quite a feat - I just wonder how it is that real economists seem to think Obama has the right idea, while you call him an idiot.

Clue me in here.

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

Per your example, if three people owe you one hundred dollars, it's a debt, not a tax. It's a piss-poor example and I'm shocked you'd try to run it by me. Insulted, actually.

Think of it this way: You want to buy CD course on economics put together by economists who think like you do. The course costs $1000 dollars for the single CD which is in cartoon form. You figure that after paying your taxes and living expenses, you'd have 100 left over to buy the CD. Thus, you know you'll have the CD in ten months. But then, Barry raises your taxes and as a result, you'll only have 50 dollars for the course. Now, you'll have to wait twice as long, or, twenty months. You despair. But then, a 7 yr old tells Barry what an idiot he is and why, so Barry reduces taxes under pressure and you end up with 200 per month for the CD, meaning of course, that you'll have fun with Beavis and Butthead in only 5 short months.

The raising and lowering of taxes affects how much money we have for other purposes after the taxes are paid. For the greedy business man, why wouldn't he spend money to increase the operation that so enriches him? He would be creating more profits upon which the lower tax rate will be assessed, thus bringing in more dough.

Or, he will spend the extra loot on goodies that the fabulously wealthy greedy bastards love to have, like pools, yachts, jewelry for the woman, etc. This extra purchasing, just as with that which goes on in expanding the business, means more money and profits for the business he will patronize. That is, more profits for other businesses. When people are flush, they spend. When people spend, there is demand. Demand must be filled so production must rise to meet demand. People are hired. Their wages get taxed. More dough.

Or, they hoard their extra dough. What happens to hoarded dough? It is lent to others for interest which is taxed and the money borrowed is spent, which is taxed, raising demand for the products or services now in demand. Can't you see this? It's a vicious cycle of wealth generation spurned by the lower of taxation on people who generate wealth through their activities.

I know there are economists who think taxing the hell out of the people now paying the lion's share already is the way to go. They are not the only economists out there by a long shot.

Here's another way to look at it. How do businesses boost revenues? They hold a sale. They lower prices to allow more people to buy their products or services. The price drops and people go, "What a deal!" and they buy what could have languished on the shelf. Look at the retail sector during holiday time. People with no money aren't in the stores buying if the economy is bad. But to be stuck with product doesn't fatten the retailers' wallets, so they hold sales. Even when times are good, more people will buy when the prices drop.

Just look again at your own situation. If your wages don't go up with inflation, can you buy as much? Businesses aren't as productive when they have to give more profits to taxes. Businesses are more productive when they are taxes less. They use their profits to generate more profits. It's the reason they exist on an economic level.

Now, I will seek out evidence for this very basic concept for you, though I would think that you'd be smart enough to get it already. Time is at a premium for me right now, so bear with me. Perhaps someone will chip in in the meantime, but I'll get it.

Vinny said...

The church is exempt by nature of it being a church as described in the IRS code (did you read the link? It explains it quite well I thought).

I did read the article and I thought it contained both misstatements and unsupported assertions. According to the Code, churches are exempt from filing requirements by virtue of being churches, but they still have to meet the other provisions of the code in order to be exempt from taxation.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

What do you mean? They have to meet the definition of a church, that's for sure, but what have you got that says more than that? Keep in mind, you have to start at the beginning and show where there was intent by early leaders to tax them at all, and then for whatever reasons they might have had. If you are going to use statements from recent (in the last 100-150 years) legislation, then you're past the point from which I base my argument. Those laws would likely also be suspect.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Quite simply put, a tax is what we as citizens owe to the government for providing order, protection, and opportunity. It is, indeed, a debt, thus the analogy - which was directed more at the mathematics of the situation than anything else - is indeed apt.

The argument you put forward has been around for years, and is as nonsensical now as it was when it first reared its ugly head. In the real world, the bulk of persons who receive a modest reduction in taxes do not spend that money on consumer goods, or save and/or invest. As our lives have been lived for a quarter century, we have lived on credit, and that extra money (such as the "stimulus package" checks everyone received last spring) goes to pay down consumer debt.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

In any event, you have not addressed the most basic criticism of your argument, viz., that the topic is not one of opinion or feeling, but facts of law and professional conduct.

This is just one of those ginned up non-controversies that means nothing. Tax exemption is a privilege, not a right, and can be revoked at any time, for any reason. Then all those political preachers out there, left, right, and center, can do whatever they want. Of course, they should face the consequences as well, including the possibility of losing their orders, being kicked out of churches, etc. One has a right to speak one's mind; one also has the responsibility to face the consequences of doing so. "Freedom" does not include the freedom from criticism.

Marshall Art said...

But you're not criticizing when you remove the tax exemption, you're punishing or oppressing. My point, is that the freedom from taxation that the church enjoys is due to the benefits to the culture the church provides. It was felt the benefits were more important than the need to tax, which, when you think of it, it actually double taxation on the donors' money. A church isn't a business as much as it is the gathering of people of faith to worship, with the preacher being their spiritual leader. He is provided for not as a job, but as gratitude for devoting his life to the service the congregation and community. He does not so much receive a salary as simply living on the graces of the community he serves. To tax him is almost akin to taxing your children because the care provided is on the same level, that is, more so than a job. Obviously you don't see it that way, but I'm suggesting that the founders didn't agree with you, even if I don't quite have their intent down to the letter. They're idea of separation was far more pure than the restrictions and directions you would place upon the church.

I believe there's a serious envy/dislike/perhaps hatred by some for the church and the present notion of separation put forth by the left in general, as well as the Barry Lynn's of the world, rose from not a fear of theocracy, but a fear of being reminded of one's own guilt for transgressing the teachings of Scripture. If a preacher's remarks regarding a candidate are wrong, it shouldn't take a Biblical scholar to point it out, nor would a man of conviction be fearful of the challenge of answering the preacher's allegations. Far easier, however, is it to stifle the speech before it leaves his lips, and for many politicians more concerned with gaining power than truly serving, this tack works best.

As to tax cuts, what you fail to understand is that the benefits to society of lowering taxes is how it allows for money money to move about the market place in any number of ways, all of which stimulate wealth creation. The pool of taxable monies grows so that even with a smaller tax rate, the revenues increase. Perhaps what you're focussing upon is the immediate effect in the year or two following the cut. Of course the feds will realize smaller revenues initially. Growth doesn't happen overnight, but will get there if the government stops choking it with taxes.

Here's another way to look at the concept: At one time, only the automotive industry provided cars for the wealthy. What caused them to really thrive, though, was when they found the means to mass produce and lower the cost. They earned less money per car, and that after spending money to create the process to mass produce, but the end result was vastly increased revenues since there were more people able to buy. The same was true with Microsoft as they made computers accessable to more people. What's more, as these examples demonstrate the effects of lower prices, it also should show that with their expansion, the companies' revenues were also vastly increasing the amount of taxation.

Now, I will say that my research so far has yet to yield the type of proof you're likely to accept, but one source has suggested what my position submits. But it is put forth as a byproduct, as the intent of the tax cuts was to force spending reductions, which also worked and is a reason just as good as increasing tax revenues. Even Friedman supported that purpose as he showed how government will always spend whatever coin is put in the till and never cut spending on their own. The government must be forced to limit itself to the four basic tasks for which it was meant to address: infrastructure, defense, trade between states and trade between nations.

I agree that we "owe" taxes as our debt to our society, but what taxation does to our ability to rise as a people in terms of personal and professional success is negatively impacted by oppressive taxation. Lessening the tax burden has always resulted in a better life on a variety of levels, which ultimately means more well healed people to tax at the lower rates. This addresses your misconception that the government is to provide opportunities. This is not so. It is to stay the hell out our way so that we can take advantage of opportunities. Opportunities are created/realized/found by us. The gov only gets in the way.

Another misconception is about what people do with their tax cuts, where you say they "do not spend that money on consumer goods, or save and/or invest...that extra money (such as the "stimulus package" checks everyone received last spring) goes to pay down consumer debt." Well what do you suppose is happening with that dough? It is being used in the market place. What happens to the folks when their debts are paid? They spend "money on consumer goods, or save and/or invest."

Vinny said...

What do you mean? They have to meet the definition of a church, that's for sure, but what have you got that says more than that? Keep in mind, you have to, and then for whatever reasons they might have had. If you are going to use statements from recent (in the last 100-150 years) legislation, then you're past the point from which I base my argument. Those laws would likely also be suspect.

I love the way you demand that I “start at the beginning” to show the intent of early leaders, but you swallow what you read on some conservative website without the slightest attempt to verify the writer’s assertions about how the tax code works, the history of the tax code, or the Constitution.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

I haven't "swallowed" anything. I've put forth a piece of information that squares with what I had already believed to be true. Now you're supposed to present opposing info and then I go from there. Like Geoffrey, you're simply playing partisan games because you don't like what I've presented. Well that's fine, but you need to give me something so I can check YOUR stuff out and compare. The link I presented reprints exerpts of the code. What more do you need? I've done my part, now you do yours and show me where the guy went wrong and why. I found the piece to be quite thorough. Or at the very least, set some number of links that represents just what you'd accept as good enough (not that I'd go along) and I'll have some idea if you're a reasonable person with whom to debate.

Marshall Art said...

Les said...
Relevant:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/


I imagine you're referring to the piece about the preacher stating that non-Christians support Obama? How is that relevant to this discussion?

Les said...

Yes, that's the one. It's an illustration of why I, for one, think the pulpit and the campaign trail shouldn't mix. This Arnold Conrad guy seems to think this election is merely a "my god is better than your god" competition. Please. It's this kind of mentality that I believe fairly disqualifies such spirituality-based rhetoric from tax exemption, and I could care LESS about the motivations behind the tax code's initial introduction. A good thing is a good thing.

Vinny said...

I haven't "swallowed" anything. I've put forth a piece of information that squares with what I had already believed to be true. Now you're supposed to present opposing info and then I go from there.

You really need to learn the difference between "information" and "unsupported assertions." Any idiot can post anything he want on a website and the fact that it squares with your preconceptions is absolutely meaningless.

Marshall Art said...

Fine, Vinny. Refute the statements he made. Show where is improperly reprinted IRS codes or information. Show anything that over-rules, contrasts with, contradicts or proves wrong anything there. THAT'S why I present such info. I'm not about to reprint the entire tax code or a number of history books in order to satisfy your left leaning biases. What I stand prepared to do, as I always have, is to consider counter arguments to what I post and decide for myself what I choose to belief based on my own criteria, not yours. I'm sure you won't bend yours to mine. Perhaps I'm simply not as suspicious as you are. Perhaps you won't believe anything that comes from the other side of the opinion you prefer. I don't freakin' care. Just prove your point or concede, or be honest enough to say that for now, you're not willing to make a judgement without more info. At least the third selection would keep us both in the game in an amicable manner. But just keep my position at the fore, threatening the tax-exemption for ANY reason regarding the political words that leave the lips of a pastor at his pulpit, is a thrice-fold denial of his Constitutional rights, and I have the 1st Amendment in plain freakin' English to support my opinion. THAT hasn't been contradicted by anyone, either here, or in Congress back in 1954. And THAT'S a FACT!

Marshall Art said...

Les,

I agree a good thing is a good thing, and the good thing is that there are others that understand the Constitutionality of this piece of the tax code. It's a clear violation as I just mentioned to Vinny and throughout this thread. As I said, that hasn't been disputed ever, but only denied by the Johnson Bill and those who also fear another source of opposition, which is all that motivates the bill in the first place.

But let me ask you this: If YOUR preacher (provided you still attend somewhere) spoke out in a manner with which you totally agree, that is, you agree with his Scriptural reasons for either avoiding or supporting a specific candidate, am I correct in assuming that you would still agree the church should lose its tax exemption? I'll assume that you are consistent here and that your answer would be "yes". Fine. But if you find his reasoning to be solid, then the strong possibiity exists that others in the congregations might also see the logic and vote accordingly. Some of them might even be extremely grateful as they had not yet considered that point of view. They are now better informed voters, as some people prefer as much data as possible in considering their vote selections (this is called "a good citizen").

Before I go on, let's consider a different possibility. What if your preacher was even "goofier" than Conrad and said the most outlandish things. I don't mean like "Obama is a good choice", but nearly that outlandish, like "God says people who say there's more than fifty states are hellspawn and you shouldn't vote for them". Naturally, I'd assume, you'd balk, disregard his message and likely find another church (Hopefully you'd challenge him publicly to support his goofy comment). The chances that others would share in your shock would likely be good as well.

So here's the clincher (or whatever brand softball you like), suppose either of these two guys said these same things outside the church, or better, suppose the people making these statements weren't even preachers, but laymen (assume the layperson holds the same level of sway that a preacher might in the mind of the listener)at work or play in a simple discussion?

The point here is that it makes absolutely NO difference the location in which these statements are made. Goofy people react the same no matter where they are based on their particular form of goofiness and affect elections as a result. Reasonable people are not swayed by goofy arguments no matter where they hear them. Serious voters consider seriously all info pertaining to the process of selecting a leader and have the right to free access to what ever is public info as well as the opinions of those in who they place their respect. The fact that any of it might come about from behind the pulpit has absolutely no impact beyond the imaginings of the candidate (and his supporters) who loses out on the deal.

I don't think I have to remind you or anyone else here, that there is plenty of goofy shit about candidates that don't require going near a house of worship to hear. Just listen to liberals, for instance. This law is akin to extra tax on anyone registered as a Democrat. Trust me when I say that I would quickly oppose that with equal vigor, even though far more nonsense comes from that direction than the spiritual.

Les said...

"If YOUR preacher (provided you still attend somewhere) spoke out in a manner..."

As long as that conversation between said preacher and myself took place outside of church while said preacher was NOT acting within his duties as a minister of his church, I'd be fine with it. Preachers are also private citizens, and in their capacity as private citizens they are obviously entitled to their own political opinions as much as you or I. What I would NOT want him doing, however, is using the pulpit in my church as a forum to express the church's endorsement of any particular candidate. Church is for spiritual nourishment, NOT political influence, and thus should be allowed an exemption, in my opinion. All this other hooey means absolutely nothing to me. End of story.

Marshall Art said...

"End of story."

You wish.

What you fail to remember is that the spiritual permeates all other aspects of our lives. It is the guiding light in our lives and the founders understood this, which is why they exempted the church from taxation. A sound Christian foundation was seen as a pillar upon which our nation was dependant and as such was allowed the freedom upon which the '54 mandate infringes. The founders didn't separate church and state in the manner you demand and they were right. In fact, more than ever before do we need the influence of the church, that is the teachings of Scripture, to guide us as voters and as leaders and representatives. Imagine how much better things would be right now if people chose to have Christian sensibility guide their decisions. Would we be dealing with the current financial crisis if the selfishness involved were removed by the desire to please the Lord? or Allah? or Buddah? Your fear that a Fred Phelps type would hold sway over enough people might be real in your head, but it is a mere phobia of which true reason should dispell you. I say again, there is nothing to which you can point, aside from your own irrational fears, that justifies this legislative error, neither in logic or the Constitution or the writings of any founder (none I've ever seen, anyway). It is wrong. It is unConstitutional. It is unAmerican. But it is for those who are unworthy of public office for it is only they who fear opposition from that location.

Les said...

Don't presume to know what's in my head, Art. Irrational fears? Fred Phelps types? You are SO missing the point. I don't want Phelps' religious views, my spiritual beliefs, or ANY kind of religious mores influencing public policy, especially the brand of religion that apparently dictates YOUR ideology! I don't want things like your views against gays codified ANYWHERE in this great nation of ours. What YOU fail to remember is that not all of us view this nation as a finished product - a notion YOU only seem to support when it works out in YOUR favor! Like, say, Constitutionally defining marriage. So enough with the "Constitutionality" defense of your positions, Art. It reeks of selectivity.

Marshall Art said...

"I don't want Phelps' religious views, my spiritual beliefs, or ANY kind of religious mores influencing public policy..."

I got some bad news for ya, Les. It already has. It's been present since Columbus first rammed into the wrong place and continued with every new group of people that came in the next couple hundred years. It's expressed in the founding documents of every colony and the nation itself. In fact, an honest and serious review of our history shows that it was meant to be a guiding influence into how we conduct ourselves, even whilst maintaining a secular form of government. It was never meant that it should be shut off from having an influence, only that the feds could not establish one version as the nation's version. And I'll continue to consider Consitutionality as it is appropriate, which it is in this discussion of the '54 stifling of free speech and religious expression. It's really too damn bad that you don't like a particular form of political speech, or a particular person's slant on public policy making, but that's what free speech means.

" I don't want things like your views against gays codified ANYWHERE in this great nation of ours."

And I don't want 2% of the population dictating the meaning of words like marriage and forcing that meaning upon the rest of the nation and the laws related to the actual meaning of the word. There's certainly nothing in the Constitution that justifies that and if you cared about the American way, you'd at least leave it up to a vote.

"What YOU fail to remember is that not all of us view this nation as a finished product - a notion YOU only seem to support when it works out in YOUR favor!"

That's rich, Les. What the hell do you think you're doing? Your favor is homosex marriage and you're willing to allow judicial fiat to determine it's legality. But this ain't a monarchy and the will of the people should be considered. It wasn't considered when Johnson trampled on the rights of free American preachers. Don't give me that crap that I just want it my way, like I'm any different than anyone else. Especially since you're doing exactly the same thing. I totally get that you don't like preachers and their religious convictions influencing policy. Unfortunately, that's called suppression of another's rights to free speech. I happen to not like 2% of the population influencing policy based on how they like to get their jollies, but if they're doing it by vote and persuasion, they have the right to do so. They're really freakin' wrong, but they have the right to do so. You get it? The source of the opinion, what motivates it, doesn't freakin' matter and was never meant to. If this country isn't capable of recognizing bad ideas, then it must suffer for it. We see it every time a Democrat is elected. But if enough idiots vote for them, they get their way. No one's trying to stop anyone from speaking their minds, except people on the left. The sorry fact is, your perspective is cowardly and insulting to the intelligence of the majority of your fellow Americans. We don't need you to protect us from faulty Sriptural interpretation. Have you ever seen me try to cut of Geoffrey or Dan, for example? No sir. Give us the same respect and Constitutional protection that you would have for yourself.




Whew!

Vinny said...

What I stand prepared to do, as I always have, is to consider counter arguments to what I post and decide for myself what I choose to belief based on my own criteria, not yours.

My problem is that I don’t know what your criteria are. For example, I don’t understand why you thought that was a good article in the first place. Are you familiar with the author? Do you know anything about his qualifications? Have you found his work to be reliable in the past? Did you check anything in the article against primary sources? Did you look at any of the Tax Code sections or IRS Publications to see whether he was quoting them accurately?

As far as I can tell, your only reason for believing this article was that it “squared with what you already believed to be true,” in which case there really is no point in me trying to refute anything because any information I present will not meet your criteria because it will not square with what you already believe.

Marshall Art said...

"...in which case there really is no point in me trying to refute anything because any information I present will not meet your criteria because it will not square with what you already believe."

Sounds like a weak cop-out to me. On the other hand, you present a list of criteria of which I haven't the time nor desire to partake, and frankly, I doubt only a rare few bloggers would meet. You think I need to do background checks on every author? blogsite? book? magazine? Should I call them and grill them for, how long exactly? No, it doesn't quite work that way. I put up something that has appeal for me, you decide that you don't like it because it does merely the opposite for you of what it does for me, so you offer up your version of "good" source material that counters it. At that point, I examine what you've offered and make an assessment based on whatever is available to me, including the quick source-slamming responses of which you and other opponents are so fond. You've claimed my source has faulty info. Fine. Make your case and support it. That's all I'm asking. You set that bar, not me. Personally, what I've been generally doing is merely posted that which reflects my OPINION with whatever the author has in terms of how he explains in his own terms what I've sought to explain in mine. More often than not, facts don't even enter into it until someone wishes to explain why the OPINION is off base.

Now in this particular thread, the opinion is that the tax code infringes on the free speech and religious expression of the preacher at the pulpit. THAT'S the issue, not whether some guy crossed his t's or dotted his i's. And THAT opinion is fully supported by the 1st freakin' Amendment. THAT has yet to be countered in any way. The least you (or anyone) could do is point to something before '54 that shows why it doesn't infringe as stated. Frankly, the tax code is not the place to find such a thing and neither is anyone's opinion on the rightness or wrongness of the tax law, though I'll take such opinions as a related argument.

Teresa said...

What I'd like to know is, what theological positions does Phelps take that you reject?

Vinny said...

I put up something that has appeal for me, you decide that you don't like it because it does merely the opposite for you of what it does for me, so you offer up your version of "good" source material that counters it. On the other hand, you present a list of criteria of which I haven't the time nor desire to partake, and frankly, I doubt only a rare few bloggers would meet. You think I need to do background checks on every author? blogsite? book? magazine? Should I call them and grill them for, how long exactly?

I am just curious about how carefully you think about the things that you post. I read the article you cited. I tried to figure out who the author was. I looked for information on the guy who seemed to be responsible for the website to see whether he had any qualifications in the field of tax law. I looked at some of the IRS material he cited to see whether he was quoting it accurately and I followed some of the links around to see whether I could understand it better for myself. I also went to the bookshelf and got a book I own about Lyndon Johnson’s senate career to see whether I could find anything to verify the claims your articles made. I do this because I like to know that the comments I post have some basis in fact.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

"I do this because I like to know that the comments I post have some basis in fact."

That's great. I'm down with that completely, and I'm willing to concede that you sound as if you go through more steps to feel ready to go. It's what I'm trying to do for Geoffrey concerning the bennies of cutting tax rates. Here, however, neither the tax code, or whether Johnson was personally involved in crafting the bill endowed with his name is really relevant, since the issue is the Constitutionality of the bill. Frankly, I don't give a flyin' rat's ass whether Johnson flew solo or just lent the name. The bill itself is unConstitutional in my opinion because of how it directly inhibits the free speech and religious expression guaranteed by the 1st. (Have I mentioned that yet?) So if I come out and state, without any care to the facts, that all the author said regarding tax law is competely fictional, it doesn't change the issue which the link provoked, which is the discussion of the Constitu....you know.

This may only be a discussion where personal opinion is appropriate. Les thinks that because it's a preacher in a pulpit speaking from Scriptural perspectives, that that is enough to justify the threat on the exemption. But no matter how he thinks that might be better, his real concern is for faulty reasoning, which doesn't require religion, and is something that rains down regularly from the current crop of Democratic leaders. I don't much care where Obama gets his inspiration. His reasoning is crap and his policies will be quite harmful. And even though he is influenced by marxist/socialist/leftist ideology, he's free to push any idea he wants no matter how stupid it is. I fear his influences and would debate they have more evidence of failure than traditional Christian teaching any day. And that's the only point that should be of concern to those who support this suppression of speech. I don't care if the speaker literally pulled an idea out of his ass. If the idea has merit, it is the idea's merit upon which it should be judged (after appropriate hygene proceedures are followed). People like Les don't want to consider that incredibly beneficial ideas could come from the pulpit. He'd rather people suffer. The thing is, if we're doing things the way we should in this country, the idea will be debated, possibly tested in some manner, and then voted upon. OR, we could get activist judges to force it like the left does with regularity.

Marshall Art said...

Teresa asked:

"...what theological positions does Phelps take that you reject?"

The one that gets all the pub: "God Hates Fags!" As that is the dung upon which he makes hay, I'm not really concerned with anything else he has to say. It's a heresy unsupported by Scripture in any way.

4simpsons said...

I think it is generally unwise for preachers to endorse specific candidates, but I find it ludicrous that they don't have the right to.

Marshall Art said...

That's a reasonable position to take should anyone feel the practice is inappropriate. I think it's in the presentation where a problem might reside more than the mere doing of it.