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Why are churches tax exempt again?

werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
edited November 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
Can anyone make a compelling case for why churches are allowed tax exempt status?

We've clearly reached the point where the idea that churches are allowed to maintain their special status in exchange for staying out of politics is a sad farce when evangelicals are organized through their churches to make up the bulk of volunteers for any one party, when a church can prove the driving force behind passage of a constitutional amendment, or when a congregation is told they are committing a mortal sin for supporting a candidate and are not welcome to take part in service until they have atoned.

And, on a more fundamental level, I'm at a lose for any reason why churches should have been allowed the exception in the first place (purely from a philosophical point of view, the actual reason is the prominence of religion in US history and the political power churches wielded). Any other organization that wishes to be tax exempt needs to justify their status through their work and not turn a profit, neither of which seems to apply to churches.

So, can anyone actually come up with a good reason why churches deserve a special status? It's obviously a non-starter to expect that to change, because it's wildly more effort than it would be worth even if it was politically possible, but it's worth working out the ideal case of what should be done none the less.

werehippy on
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Posts

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar Audio Game Developer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    werehippy wrote: »
    Can anyone make a compelling case for why churches are allowed tax exempt status?

    Because it's the only way we can slow them down even a little bit?

    That said, I say tax the fuckers. Secular clubs, too.

    Incenjucar on
  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    werehippy wrote: »
    Can anyone make a compelling case for why churches are allowed tax exempt status?

    Because it's the only way we can slow them down even a little bit?

    That said, I say tax the fuckers. Secular clubs, too.

    What exactly would they be doing if we weren't throwing them a multi million (billion) dollar boondoggle, fighting to curtail the rights of others through legislation and claiming anyone who disagreed was an immoral bastard and damned for eternity?

    werehippy on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar Audio Game Developer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    If you remove their tax exempt thing, they have zero reason to even consider backing off, and you would have every church pushing their agenda instead of just ye olde vocal minority.

    Incenjucar on
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It's called separation of church and state. The government doesn't fuck with the church's business, and vice versa.

    Now, the two examples you gave show the church violating that compact, and as such should, in fact, lose their tax exemption. (There's already a push here to get the government to pull the LDS tax exemption, and the UK has already begun the proceedings.)

    AngelHedgie on
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  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Evangelical churches =/= the majority of christian congregations in America.

    Podly on
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  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It's called separation of church and state. The government doesn't fuck with the church's business, and vice versa.

    Now, the two examples you gave show the church violating that compact, and as such should, in fact, lose their tax exemption. (There's already a push here to get the government to pull the LDS tax exemption, and the UK has already begun the proceedings.)

    The hell, that's not what separation of church and state is about at all. The government doesn't endorse any religion, not the government doesn't interact with religion at all. By all rights, the very act of giving churches a tax benefit is endorsing organized religions over other beliefs.

    werehippy on
  • Dr Mario KartDr Mario Kart Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    If you remove their tax exempt thing, they have zero reason to even consider backing off, and you would have every church pushing their agenda instead of just ye olde vocal minority.
    Sounds like something people on both sides of the aisle can come together on.

    On one hand, they get to more freely push a mostly conservative agenda (socially in particular).

    On the other hand, we can get their tasty tax dollars.

    Sounds like a win-win to me.

    Dr Mario Kart on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It's called separation of church and state. The government doesn't fuck with the church's business, and vice versa.

    Taxation does not necessitate nor imply viewpoint discrimination. If anything it would actually strengthen the separation of church and state as tax exempt status would be determined on more objective grounds than whether or not the IRS thinks you're a church.

    Also, we do fuck with the church's business in the form of 'faith based initiatives' grants which require participating churches to follow nondiscrimination laws for any program receiving federal monies.

    moniker on
  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Because many churches provide community outreach and chairty services with their raised money.

    I don't know enough about how many do it, but even as an athiest I say give them tax exemption if they continue providing such services. If they don't? Then take their tax exemption away.

    So I guess I'd argue for reform. Make it so they are only tax exempt if they stay out of politics and contribute to society in some way if they are raising cash money.

    KungFu on
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  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    If you remove their tax exempt thing, they have zero reason to even consider backing off, and you would have every church pushing their agenda instead of just ye olde vocal minority.
    Sounds like something people on both sides of the aisle can come together on.

    On one hand, they get to more freely push a mostly conservative agenda (socially in particular).

    On the other hand, we can get their tasty tax dollars.

    Sounds like a win-win to me.

    The Democrats want to tax your church! The Democrats want to steal your tithes! Pastor Dave is going to need to get a second job! The IRS is going to make us a godless country! &c.

    moniker on
  • werehippywerehippy Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    KungFu wrote: »
    Because many churches provide community outreach and chairty services with their raised money.

    I don't know enough about how many do it, but even as an athiest I say give them tax exemption if they continue providing such services. If they don't? Then take their tax exemption away.

    So I guess I'd argue for reform. Make it so they are only tax exempt if they stay out of politics and contribute to society in some way if they are raising cash money.

    But then why not give them tax exempt status for their charity operations, as opposed to extending it to all the non-charity operations.

    werehippy on
  • DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I thought the reasoning behind them being tax exempt was due to them technically being a non for profit organization?

    DeShadowC on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    werehippy wrote: »
    KungFu wrote: »
    Because many churches provide community outreach and chairty services with their raised money.

    I don't know enough about how many do it, but even as an athiest I say give them tax exemption if they continue providing such services. If they don't? Then take their tax exemption away.

    So I guess I'd argue for reform. Make it so they are only tax exempt if they stay out of politics and contribute to society in some way if they are raising cash money.

    But then why not give them tax exempt status for their charity operations, as opposed to extending it to all the non-charity operations.

    You said it yourself in the OP, it's politically impossible to change that. They're all tax exempt now thanks to the fact that there's no way in hell that taxes wouldn't have been discriminatory back even just a century ago so you needed a blanket ban in order to make sure nobody got screwed because Protestants are in power. Now, not so much; but the inertia might as well make it an immovable object.

    moniker on
  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    So, if we remove the LDS tax exemption shouldn't we remove Trinity United, Chicago southside church's too. I mean, they pushed Obama super hard, right? And they have a political agenda.

    JebusUD on
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  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    JebusUD wrote: »
    So, if we remove the LDS tax exemption shouldn't we remove Trinity United, Chicago southside church's too. I mean, they pushed Obama super hard, right? And they have a political agenda.

    They all should be removed, and then the churches would file under 501(c) for charitable works, and most of them would get it all back.

    moniker on
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I think the exemption started as a nod towards religious freedom. The government could easily tax the fuck out of a church it didn't like and that is in fact what England did at certain times in history.

    As for "staying the fuck out of politics" that was pretty much a cheap political hack from around the 50's from what I recall. Not exactly an enshrined base principal. I also think it's kinda stupid. Here's this place that claims ultimate moral authority but is forbidden from exercising such if it involves you voting....

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    JebusUD wrote: »
    So, if we remove the LDS tax exemption shouldn't we remove Trinity United, Chicago southside church's too. I mean, they pushed Obama super hard, right? And they have a political agenda.
    Oh noooo

    They supported someone I enjoy well I guess that's- no actually you can still remove the tax-exempt status.

    Churches shouldn't get a say in the governmental process, or they should pay taxes, not both.

    durandal4532 on
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  • Element BrianElement Brian Peanut Butter Shill Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Because besides using the money that the church recieves to build other meeting houses all over the world, temples and creating supplies and teaching materials, it uses the money that it recieves for stuff like this.
    http://www.ldsprovidentliving.com/welfare/pdf/2006WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    Part of the statistics of Humanitarian efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ in 2007
    Examples of Church Services:

    Managing Employment Centers
    Teaching English as a second language
    Teaching marriage and parenting skills
    Improving agricultural and medical practices
    Distributing clothing
    Supervising welfare projects and missionaries


    Humanitarian assistance rendered (1985–2007)
    Cash donations (for humanitarian efforts)
    $259.8 million

    Value of material assistance
    $750.9 million

    Countries served
    165

    Food distributed
    58,809 tons

    Medical supplies distributed
    11,001 tons

    Clothing
    78,108 tons

    Educational supplies
    5,879 tons

    Hygiene, newborn, and school kits
    7.1 million

    Element Brian on
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  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Educational supplies
    5,879 tons

    I don't like the sound of that.

    JebusUD on
    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2008
    Because besides using the money that the church recieves to build other meeting houses all over the world, temples and creating supplies and teaching materials, it uses the money that it recieves for stuff like this.
    http://www.ldsprovidentliving.com/welfare/pdf/2006WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    Part of the statistics of Humanitarian efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ in 2007
    Examples of Church Services:

    Managing Employment Centers
    Teaching English as a second language
    Teaching marriage and parenting skills
    Improving agricultural and medical practices
    Distributing clothing
    Supervising welfare projects and missionaries


    Humanitarian assistance rendered (1985–2007)
    Cash donations (for humanitarian efforts)
    $259.8 million

    Value of material assistance
    $750.9 million

    Countries served
    165

    Food distributed
    58,809 tons

    Medical supplies distributed
    11,001 tons

    Clothing
    78,108 tons

    Educational supplies
    5,879 tons

    Hygiene, newborn, and school kits
    7.1 million

    They can file it all on their taxes.

    Doc on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Because besides using the money that the church recieves to build other meeting houses all over the world, temples and creating supplies and teaching materials, it uses the money that it recieves for stuff like this.
    http://www.ldsprovidentliving.com/welfare/pdf/2006WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    Part of the statistics of Humanitarian efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ in 2007
    Examples of Church Services:

    Managing Employment Centers
    Teaching English as a second language
    Teaching marriage and parenting skills
    Improving agricultural and medical practices
    Distributing clothing
    Supervising welfare projects and missionaries


    Humanitarian assistance rendered (1985–2007)
    Cash donations (for humanitarian efforts)
    $259.8 million

    Value of material assistance
    $750.9 million

    Countries served
    165

    Food distributed
    58,809 tons

    Medical supplies distributed
    11,001 tons

    Clothing
    78,108 tons

    Educational supplies
    5,879 tons

    Hygiene, newborn, and school kits
    7.1 million

    All of which would allow them to classify for tax exemption under 501(c)3 without automatically being given that status because the IRS declares you a religion.

    moniker on
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe Registered User
    edited November 2008
    It's called separation of church and state. The government doesn't fuck with the church's business, and vice versa.

    Now, the two examples you gave show the church violating that compact, and as such should, in fact, lose their tax exemption. (There's already a push here to get the government to pull the LDS tax exemption, and the UK has already begun the proceedings.)

    Wow - You have no idea what "Separation of church and state" means.

    JohnDoe on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Because besides using the money that the church recieves to build other meeting houses all over the world, temples and creating supplies and teaching materials, it uses the money that it recieves for stuff like this.
    http://www.ldsprovidentliving.com/welfare/pdf/2006WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    Part of the statistics of Humanitarian efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ in 2007
    Examples of Church Services:

    Managing Employment Centers
    Teaching English as a second language
    Teaching marriage and parenting skills
    Improving agricultural and medical practices
    Distributing clothing
    Supervising welfare projects and missionaries


    Humanitarian assistance rendered (1985–2007)
    Cash donations (for humanitarian efforts)
    $259.8 million

    Value of material assistance
    $750.9 million

    Countries served
    165

    Food distributed
    58,809 tons

    Medical supplies distributed
    11,001 tons

    Clothing
    78,108 tons

    Educational supplies
    5,879 tons

    Hygiene, newborn, and school kits
    7.1 million
    How nice of the Mormon church to use their tax-exempt dollars to spread their cult around the world. I mean, perform charity around the world, in tacit exchange for cult membership.

    I believe Wahabbi Islam works the same way. No wonder your religions spread so fast. It's quite a cushy setup.

    Qingu on
  • Element BrianElement Brian Peanut Butter Shill Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Because besides using the money that the church recieves to build other meeting houses all over the world, temples and creating supplies and teaching materials, it uses the money that it recieves for stuff like this.
    http://www.ldsprovidentliving.com/welfare/pdf/2006WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    Part of the statistics of Humanitarian efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ in 2007
    Examples of Church Services:

    Managing Employment Centers
    Teaching English as a second language
    Teaching marriage and parenting skills
    Improving agricultural and medical practices
    Distributing clothing
    Supervising welfare projects and missionaries


    Humanitarian assistance rendered (1985–2007)
    Cash donations (for humanitarian efforts)
    $259.8 million

    Value of material assistance
    $750.9 million

    Countries served
    165

    Food distributed
    58,809 tons

    Medical supplies distributed
    11,001 tons

    Clothing
    78,108 tons

    Educational supplies
    5,879 tons

    Hygiene, newborn, and school kits
    7.1 million
    How nice of the Mormon church to use their tax-exempt dollars to spread their cult around the world. I mean, perform charity around the world, in tacit exchange for cult membership.

    I believe Wahabbi Islam works the same way.


    ...Not this again...Look, you don't like the fact that a religion which you have a personal vendetta against does humanitarian work? FINE.

    Why don't you go up to all the kids africa who recieved vaccination,food and clothes, the people in Peru received aid from the churh after the earthquake and Indonesia after the tsunami ( certain places of which there is NO missionary work) and tell these people how stupid they are for taking aid from this Church. DONT USE THAT BLANKET! YOU'LL GET MORMON-POX!!11

    Element Brian on
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  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Because besides using the money that the church recieves to build other meeting houses all over the world, temples and creating supplies and teaching materials, it uses the money that it recieves for stuff like this.
    http://www.ldsprovidentliving.com/welfare/pdf/2006WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    Part of the statistics of Humanitarian efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ in 2007
    Examples of Church Services:

    Managing Employment Centers
    Teaching English as a second language
    Teaching marriage and parenting skills
    Improving agricultural and medical practices
    Distributing clothing
    Supervising welfare projects and missionaries


    Humanitarian assistance rendered (1985–2007)
    Cash donations (for humanitarian efforts)
    $259.8 million

    Value of material assistance
    $750.9 million

    Countries served
    165

    Food distributed
    58,809 tons

    Medical supplies distributed
    11,001 tons

    Clothing
    78,108 tons

    Educational supplies
    5,879 tons

    Hygiene, newborn, and school kits
    7.1 million
    How nice of the Mormon church to use their tax-exempt dollars to spread their cult around the world. I mean, perform charity around the world, in tacit exchange for cult membership.

    I believe Wahabbi Islam works the same way.


    ...Not this again...Look, you don't like the fact that a religion which you have a personal vendetta against does humanitarian work? FINE.

    Why don't you go up to all the kids africa who recieved vaccination,food and clothes, the people in Peru received aid from the churh after the earthquake and Indonesia after the tsunami ( certain places of which there is NO missionary work) and tell these people how stupid they are for taking aid from this Church. DONT USE THAT BLANKET! YOU'LL GET MORMON-POX!!11
    moniker wrote: »
    All of which would allow them to classify for tax exemption under 501(c)3 without automatically being given that status because the IRS declares you a religion.

    moniker on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ...Not this again...Look, you don't like the fact that a religion which you have a personal vendetta against does humanitarian work? FINE.

    Why don't you go up to all the kids africa who recieved vaccination,food and clothes, the people in Peru received aid from the churh after the earthquake and Indonesia after the tsunami ( certain places of which there is NO missionary work) and tell these people how stupid they are for taking aid from this Church. DONT USE THAT BLANKET! YOU'LL GET MORMON-POX!!11
    1. I don't have a personal vendetta against your religion. I think Mormonism is pretty much as stupid as any other religion, and I think you're about as intellectually dishonest as most religious people I've talked to. So don't take it "personally."

    2. If you were interested in doing humanitarian work for humanitarian work's sake, you could easily do it through a more efficient and neutral organization, like Unicef or the Red Cross. But we both know that the LDS's humanitarian work is explicitly for spreading Mormonism's sake. Just like Wahabbi Islam and Scientology's "humanitarian work."

    Qingu on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar Audio Game Developer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I don't know about Unicef, but the Red Cross is also pretty corrupt.

    Incenjucar on
  • Randall_FlaggRandall_Flagg Registered User
    edited November 2008
    I know a guy who pretended to start his own religion, got his house declared a temple, and now he has a tax-exempt house!

    pretty slick

    Randall_Flagg on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    I don't know about Unicef, but the Red Cross is also pretty corrupt.

    Blue helmets are pretty notorious for committing horrible acts and taking advantage of the people they're supposed to protect. Though that could just be peace keepers rather than the broader UN workers in general.

    Catholic Charities is actually pretty kickass, though. Also, OxFam.

    moniker on
  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Why don't you go up to all the kids africa who recieved vaccination,food and clothes, the people in Peru received aid from the churh after the earthquake and Indonesia after the tsunami ( certain places of which there is NO missionary work) and tell these people how stupid they are for taking aid from this Church. DONT USE THAT BLANKET! YOU'LL GET MORMON-POX!!11

    And how about all the people in Africa who don't use condoms because the Catholic Church spreads lies about how they don't prevent AIDS? Or all the money that could go to actual AID supplies that these religious charities instead spend on Bibles, tracts, etc., to ship to these areas? Look at Mother Teresa: She was dressed up by the media as some saint who builds hospitals for the poor, but the money donated to her went mainly to buying missionary supplies, and the "hospitals" she had set up were little more than places for them to gather up the dying and try to convert before they died.

    DarkPrimus on
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  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Hrmph. I don't know about the Red Cross. I have heard that Unicef and the WFP are pretty okay though, as far as charities go.

    I think the efficacy of charity organizations is probably a topic unto itself. My point was that when your charity is done with the explicit purpose to promote and spread a religious ideology, then you can get the hell off your high horse.

    It's like corporate charity. Someone says shit about your corporation? "But we spent 10 million dollars passing out Nike shoes in Africa!" As far as I'm concerned, any actual good will involved evaporates when you callously use it as a shield to deflect criticism.

    And as moniker said, there are standard rules that would apply to such activities to make them tax exempt, regardless of "it's a religion!"—just like they apply to corporate charities.

    Qingu on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Hrmph. I don't know about the Red Cross. I have heard that Unicef and the WFP are pretty okay though, as far as charities go.

    I think the efficacy of charity organizations is probably a topic unto itself. My point was that when your charity is done with the explicit purpose to promote and spread a religious ideology, then you can get the hell off your high horse.

    It's like corporate charity. Someone says shit about your corporation? "But we spent 10 million dollars passing out Nike shoes in Africa!" As far as I'm concerned, any actual good will involved evaporates when you callously use it as a shield to deflect criticism.

    And as moniker said, there are standard rules that would apply to such activities to make them tax exempt, regardless of "it's a religion!"—just like they apply to corporate charities.
    The other point here is that evangelical charity endangers goodwill and acceptance of all charities trying to operate in an area. For example, the evangelicals who showed up in Indonesia after the tsunami were both terrible people (oh your life was destroyed? That's god punishing you for not believing in him!) and actively endangered relief efforts by others since Indonesia pretty explicitly said they didn't want evangelical organizations and the like operating in their Muslim country.

    electricitylikesme on
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Why don't you go up to all the kids africa who recieved vaccination,food and clothes, the people in Peru received aid from the churh after the earthquake and Indonesia after the tsunami ( certain places of which there is NO missionary work) and tell these people how stupid they are for taking aid from this Church. DONT USE THAT BLANKET! YOU'LL GET MORMON-POX!!11

    And how about all the people in Africa who don't use condoms because the Catholic Church spreads lies about how they don't prevent AIDS? Or all the money that could go to actual AID supplies that these religious charities instead spend on Bibles, tracts, etc., to ship to these areas? Look at Mother Teresa: She was dressed up by the media as some saint who builds hospitals for the poor, but the money donated to her went mainly to buying missionary supplies, and the "hospitals" she had set up were little more than places for them to gather up the dying and try to convert before they died.

    To be fair, churches and assorted religious organizations tend to be better at local charity-work in developing nations, if only because they're often the only community organization in the area.

    That said, all sorts of chaos occurs whenever faraway religious organizations try to 'help'. D: Evangelism and suspicious locals do not mix, and there's always at least one idiot who wants to be a hero for his religion. Take Indonesia for example. The foreign churches invariably think like this: "Indonesia Quake Leads to Trust, Doorway for Evangelism". What the locals think goes more like this.

    There's no real reason to think that churches are necessarily better at charity work than secular organizations, but there's no reason to think that churches are necessarily worse, either. Churches are good at grassroots things, like virtually all community-level organizations. They can also provide hordes of unskilled volunteers if the task calls for it. But they suck at larger operations where you need to be pretty realist and cynical about corrupt local officials, prostitution, drug trades, and other aspects of reality - e.g., the Catholic Church doesn't want people to get AIDS, but it genuinely believes it can stop people from engaging in sex for non-reproductive purposes.

    And by trying (and failing) to perform charity where they can't, they draw support away from specialised charities which can get things done.

    Perhaps we should just cancel all tax exemptions for charities, and then directly subsidise types of beneficial impacts instead... the courts already rule that you have to benefit the public good, after all (charity school that segregates doesn't get to keep its tax exemption), so we're already making legal judgments on the types of things we consider beneficial anyway.

    ronya on
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  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited November 2008
    ronya wrote: »
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Why don't you go up to all the kids africa who recieved vaccination,food and clothes, the people in Peru received aid from the churh after the earthquake and Indonesia after the tsunami ( certain places of which there is NO missionary work) and tell these people how stupid they are for taking aid from this Church. DONT USE THAT BLANKET! YOU'LL GET MORMON-POX!!11

    And how about all the people in Africa who don't use condoms because the Catholic Church spreads lies about how they don't prevent AIDS? Or all the money that could go to actual AID supplies that these religious charities instead spend on Bibles, tracts, etc., to ship to these areas? Look at Mother Teresa: She was dressed up by the media as some saint who builds hospitals for the poor, but the money donated to her went mainly to buying missionary supplies, and the "hospitals" she had set up were little more than places for them to gather up the dying and try to convert before they died.

    To be fair, churches and assorted religious organizations tend to be better at local charity-work in developing nations, if only because they're often the only community organization in the area.

    That said, all sorts of chaos occurs whenever faraway religious organizations try to 'help'. D: Evangelism and suspicious locals do not mix, and there's always at least one idiot who wants to be a hero for his religion. Take Indonesia for example. The foreign churches invariably think like this: "Indonesia Quake Leads to Trust, Doorway for Evangelism". What the locals think goes more like this.

    There's no real reason to think that churches are necessarily better at charity work than secular organizations, but there's no reason to think that churches are necessarily worse, either. Churches are good at grassroots things, like virtually all community-level organizations. They can also provide hordes of unskilled volunteers if the task calls for it. But they suck at larger operations where you need to be pretty realist and cynical about corrupt local officials, prostitution, drug trades, and other aspects of reality - e.g., the Catholic Church doesn't want people to get AIDS, but it genuinely believes it can stop people from engaging in sex for non-reproductive purposes.

    And by trying (and failing) to perform charity where they can't, they draw support away from specialised charities which can get things done.

    Perhaps we should just cancel all tax exemptions for charities, and then directly subsidise types of beneficial impacts instead... the courts already rule that you have to benefit the public good, after all (charity school that segregates doesn't get to keep its tax exemption), so we're already making legal judgments on the types of things we consider beneficial anyway.

    The only problem is that there will then be such things as tax exemptions for steeples to give your religion of choice an advantage.

    Scalfin on
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  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Scalfin wrote: »
    The only problem is that there will then be such things as tax exemptions for steeples to give your religion of choice an advantage.

    Except that would be viewpoint discrimination which would be considered unconstitutional due to the First Amendment.

    Also, if you've already been exempted from paying taxes...how do you get exempted even more?

    moniker on
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    There's no reason whatsoever for churches to have tax-exempt status.

    I don't know US law well, so I'll quote the UK Charities Commission. A lot of people think non-profit=charity, but that's not the case at all.

    This is the definition put forward by the British government:
    To be a charity an organisation must have purposes all of which are exclusively charitable; a charity cannot have some purposes which are charitable and others which are not. A ‘purpose’ is the overall goal of a charity. It is what a charity aims to achieve from the work that it does. A charity’s purposes are usually set out in its governing document as the ‘objects clause’.

    Churches have many goals, but the primary one is promoting their own religion. This is only altruistic under their own belief system, and so not relevant.

    Therefore, churches aren't charities.

    poshniallo on
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  • ED!ED! Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Qingu wrote: »
    Because besides using the money that the church recieves to build other meeting houses all over the world, temples and creating supplies and teaching materials, it uses the money that it recieves for stuff like this.
    http://www.ldsprovidentliving.com/welfare/pdf/2006WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    Part of the statistics of Humanitarian efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ in 2007
    Examples of Church Services:

    Managing Employment Centers
    Teaching English as a second language
    Teaching marriage and parenting skills
    Improving agricultural and medical practices
    Distributing clothing
    Supervising welfare projects and missionaries


    Humanitarian assistance rendered (1985–2007)
    Cash donations (for humanitarian efforts)
    $259.8 million

    Value of material assistance
    $750.9 million

    Countries served
    165

    Food distributed
    58,809 tons

    Medical supplies distributed
    11,001 tons

    Clothing
    78,108 tons

    Educational supplies
    5,879 tons

    Hygiene, newborn, and school kits
    7.1 million
    How nice of the Mormon church to use their tax-exempt dollars to spread their cult around the world. I mean, perform charity around the world, in tacit exchange for cult membership.

    I believe Wahabbi Islam works the same way. No wonder your religions spread so fast. It's quite a cushy setup.

    Dunno how churches work in your neck of the woods, but the ones here provide MUCH NEEDED community services/resources for ANYONE regardless if you actually come to church on Sunday. Sure there will be pamphlets at the front, but there is zero obligation for anything in return.

    It seems a little silly to try and go after the millions in this country who are making a non-partisan difference because one group got the vote out better than the other side.

    ED! on
    "Get the hell out of me" - [ex]girlfriend
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Republican and Democrat are not the only political power-groups in the world.

    I'm afraid you need a very twisted definition of 'non-partisan' to say that churches fit that bill.

    poshniallo on
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  • ED!ED! Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    My bad, I thought we were talking about US tax exempt status here.

    ED! on
    "Get the hell out of me" - [ex]girlfriend
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ED! wrote: »
    My bad, I thought we were talking about US tax exempt status here.

    Fine then, not the only power-groups in the US.

    poshniallo on
    I figure I could take a bear.
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