Religion In Politics – It Will Get Worse

Posted by Phil Ferguson on October 29th, 2012 – 3 Comments – Posted in Uncategorized

Religion In PoliticsReligion in Politics!  Have you noticed?  More and more churches are telling there members how to vote.  Last week I was involved with a church protest over this issue but, I think the problem will get worse.  Check out this story from christianity today.

“Vote for the Mormon, not the Muslim! The Capitalist, not the Communist!” read the sign outside Church of the Valley in Leakey, Texas. Beyond its inaccuracies, it was a clear violation of federal tax code, which prohibits nonprofits from doing anything that might support a candidate running for office.

The author gets it!  This is wrong.  It is bad for politics and (i have hope) it is bad for getting more members into your church.

But a revocation of the church’s tax-exempt status isn’t likely to come soon—if ever.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has officially halted tax audits of churches until it can adopt rules that clarify which high-level employee has the authority to initiate them.

I have so got to start a fucking church.

“We are holding any potential church audits in abeyance,” Russell Renwicks of the IRS’s Tax-Exempt and Government Entities division told BNA.com this week.

While this is the first public announcement of the moratorium, the IRS hasn’t been auditing churches since 2009, said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund).

That’s when a federal court found that the IRS wasn’t following its own regulations.

Not following the rules – sound like a church.

An IRS official at the level of regional commissioner or above is required to approve any church audits before they are initiated, according to a law passed in 1984. But in 1996, Congress reorganized the IRS from geographical regions to national practice groups—a move that eliminated the office of regional commissioner.

Very clever Congress.  I guess they don’t want to lose the value of churches pimping for them.

“The IRS shut down all church audits at the time,” Stanley said. The agency proposed new regulations in 2009, but never got past the review process, he said.

“After that, it has taken absolutely no action on finalizing the regulations,” he said. “They’ve just been sitting out there.”

No one seems to know why the IRS hasn’t changed its regulations to allow another position to approve the audits, or why IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman hasn’t been approving church audits in the interim. Shulman will step down November 9, the end of his five-year term.

“They could finalize those regulations whenever they wanted to,” Stanley said.

Rob Boston, senior policy analyst for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, also doesn’t know why the finalization has taken so long.

“All we get are drops of information here and there, which sometimes seem to point in different directions,” he said.

The hotly contested presidential election this year has seen plenty of churches violate the rules, Boston said.

“This is absolutely the worst time for the IRS to be taking a step back,” he said. “The agency needs to resolve this matter and move forward with enforcement. If they fail to do that, we’re only going to see more flagrant violations of the law.”

When allowed religion will try to take control.  That is what it does and christianity has tried to do this for almost 1,800 years.

  1. Glock21 says:

    I’m curious as to why the banner at the County Clerk’s office hasn’t resulted in a blog post yet. This seemed like a related thread to ask. Gordy’s explanation to me seemed fairly reasonable, but I’m interested in whether you also found it reasonable or if it was in a gray area. I consider him a friend, but as I said, as a public official he’s open to scrutiny even in the election busy season. Regardless of personal or professional relationships, which seemed to have intertwined with my real life in this situation, I’m curious if you found his argument, even if short in the end, compelling or if it still bugs you.

    • Phil Ferguson says:

      It mostly comes down to being really busy. But, your are right. I will see if I can get that done of tuesday.

  2. Jim N says:

    Austin Dacey makes the point in his book The Secular Conscience that religion should not be private. Religion should be discussed openly by everyone. His point is that by privatizing religious discussion we risk not discussing these incredibly important issues which without resolution may continue social and economic problems.

    Indeed, when we talk about respect we don’t really mean agreement but rather a suspension of continued discussion so as to not to greatly piss off your interlocutor. Isn’t that a standard response when we shut up? The issue has become too hot to continue discussion? Or we are offending them, sincere or not, such that they are willing to terminate discussion, friendship, familial relations, etc if you don’t stop disagreeing with them.

    Diplomacy bases itself on “keep talking”. As long as communication continues there is hope of resolution. This also allows interlocution blackmail where the threat to leave can become its own ends and means of forcing the direction of discussion. This playing the game of chicken in conversation. Just how close can you nick without drawing blood.

    The desire fro privacy does alleviate negative feelings but does not necessarily create the change desired. Civil disobedience and burning tires in the street can have a strong effect. It can also backfire. But generally martyrs and underdogs are popular. Diplomatically, you want to use the minimal amount of rhetorical force necessary to create change to minimize backlash. I think this is an art but as demographic tracking gets more sophisticated that line will be played and predicted more closely.

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