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Old 08-31-2013, 06:09 PM
 
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The nice thing about the separation of church and state is that if the government is in one of its "we are not here to help our constituents" phases, the churches go right ahead and set up whatever social services they can dream up, usually in a way that is tailor-made to the needs of the congregation or city, not hogtied by government regulations. And those services are usually the most generous and nonjudgemental offering the church makes -- like food and free clothes to anyone who needs them, aside from whatever other prejudices they might hold religiously.

Of course, with zero government regulations, great services can go to hell (I use the word advisedly) before anyone notices -- look at the all the great jobs, housing and rehab services set up by the People's Temple before Jim Jones moved his core members to Guyana...
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Old 09-05-2013, 02:34 AM
 
7,802 posts, read 5,283,006 times
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Originally Posted by bulmabriefs144 View Post
They should remain untaxed. Churches are a non-profit welfare organization, they are built to help the poor.
Tell that to the Bishop in Ireland who, when I was working in a gas station, payed for the Petrol in his Lexus using a Gold Card.

A lot of Churches do not engage in all that much charity work either. Rather they take in a lot of money, skim massive amounts of it off the top, and redistribute the rest.

That does not sound like a not for profit welfare organisation to me. It sounds like a profit making Charity Broker. Just like an insurance broker does not themselves offer any insurance... they will take your money, make a profit, and bring what is left to the people who actually do offer the product in question.

Meanwhile many churches or groups of this kind that do go into places requiring charity and aid.... actually do it as a front for evangelizing and distributing their religion. One thing the religious are very good at historically and presently is targeting the needy and vulnerable.

I would be _all for_ not taxing the money churches take in and actually distribute to actual charities. What they retain for themselves however, whether used to invest in assets, invest in their club houses, or pay their staff, should be taxed the same as any other business or brokerage.
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:01 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by Nozzferrahhtoo View Post
I would be _all for_ not taxing the money churches take in and actually distribute to actual charities. What they retain for themselves however, whether used to invest in assets, invest in their club houses, or pay their staff, should be taxed the same as any other business or brokerage.
Many churches, especially smaller ones, do direct charity work, and I would also be fine with not taxing that, provided it's not a front for prosetlyization as you say. The problem is that it would be hard to enforce that. Churches should form separate nonprofit arms that apply for nonprofit like any charity, with the central activities of teaching dogma, worship, and prosetlyzation a normal taxable enterprise. The problem would still remain, how would you insure that the nonprofit subsidiary doesn't still act as a front.
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
56,143 posts, read 54,613,656 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulmabriefs144 View Post
They should remain untaxed. Churches are a non-profit welfare organization, they are built to help the poor. Ummmm, yea, aside from mega-churches I don't know of any churches that receive 71 billion or even 71 thousand dollars annually. They are legitimately struggling, and yet still continue to give. I've seen church economic printouts. The church doesn't make money, it looks like the $45k earned, -$43k various expenses (running the church, donating to charities, soup kitchens, etc). In some cases, it's actually the other way around, the church spends to the point of debt.

What you are proposing is to tax such places out of existence. I don't generally care about people's belief systems, but I find this very offensive. Churches are hardly leeches, on other hand, look at your average welfare program and how much these handouts cost the govt in debt. This is not a state matter, because this is the very reason we have freedom of religion, not so people can have freedom from religion (they're entitled to that too, so long as they don't impose it on others), but so religion can work freely without the added burden of taxes.
Thank you. My church's annual budget is around $68,000, and we're currently about $8000 in deficit for the year. People love to dance around in glee and point at the mega-churches, but most churches are like mine. I'm sure these people would love to see our 19-century historic stone building torn down so they could have another Starbucks, but not everyone thinks that way.

Yet the people in this church, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed, managed to raise several thousand dollars to help Sandy victims rebuild. And no, there's no "evangelical" string tied to this charity. There are people in our area, particularly in the impoverished bayshore towns, who still need help, and as long as others who would be better able to help airily dismiss their predicament as "oh, those rich people who own beach houses", they will continue to need help for a while, and we don't give a rat's ass if they are Christians or not. Like it or not, it IS the churches in the area who have continued to help the Sandy victims.

The income churches make comes from its parishioners who want to keep their home church going. If you want to start taxing the churches so your government has more money for bigger and better weapons or fat salaries for your congresspeople, we'll just stop giving to the church and find other ways to support those who need help and find other ways to keep our building maintained.

We get that some people don't believe in God and think we are unintelligent morons for doing so and that this whole "love your neighbors and do unto others as you would have them to unto you" thing is silly. Whoop-di-f**king do. And I get that you don't have to be a believer to do charitable works--but the fact still remains that the small churches are doing most of it on the one-on-one level.

Last edited by Mightyqueen801; 09-05-2013 at 07:27 AM..
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
I'm sure these people would love to see our 19-century historic stone building torn down so they could have another Starbucks, but not everyone thinks that way.
If it's a 19th century historic stone building then it would be eligible for landmark status or other programs regardless of whether it's a church or not. In fact, AFAIK, whether or not it's currently used as a church.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
If you want to start taxing the churches so your government has more money for bigger and better weapons or fat salaries for your congresspeople, we'll just stop giving to the church and find other ways to support those who need help and find other ways to keep our building maintained.
My point exactly. You'd find alternatives. I manage to function despite sending north of $20K to the government every 3 months; so can you folks.

I don't approve of everything the government does with that money either. But that's not the point. The point is a level playing field and granting tax exemptions to organizations that perform actual social services. If you are the First Whatever Church of MyVille, and you help Sandy victims, then form the MyVille Sandy Relief Fund and apply for tax exempt status and keep separate books. And get a tax exemption for church funds the church donates to the Relief Fund. But for Sunday School, church services, marrying and burying services, etc., no.

My guess is that you're the kind of church that would end up effectively hanging onto most of its tax exemption anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
We get that some people don't believe in God and think we are unintelligent morons for doing so and that this whole "love your neighbors and do unto others as you would have them to unto you" thing is silly. Whoop-di-f**king do. And I get that you don't have to be a believer to do charitable works--but the fact still remains that the small churches are doing most of it on the one-on-one level.
This is a very confused set of assertions.

We don't believe in god: True.

We think you are unintelligent morons for believing in god: Some of us do, I'm sure, most of us are less judgy than that but we will say that there's no empirical evidence for god belief and if you want to make that personal, that's your issue, not ours. Disagreeing with your thinking is just a difference of opinion -- and we are as entitled to our opinion as you are to yours. I will admit that at some point I told myself, it would be dumb for me to keep believing in the absence of evidence. Dumb and wrong and ill-advised and potentially harmful. But I'm not laying that on you; that's for you to figure out (or not) for yourself. It's like smoking. I don't smoke and never have. I think it's gross and distasteful and self-harming -- and inflicting that on yourself is, in a sense, stupid. But when I meet a smoker in the real world I don't tell them that. It's not my business to. At some level the smoker knows that non-smokers hold what he's doing self-destructive and ultimately dumb -- because at some level he knows it IS -- but that isn't my fault. I'm not going to pretend that smoking is just another personal choice like what color shoes you buy, even if I'm not going to rub it in. It's not my job to make smokers, or theists, comfortable in their choices, just to have empathy and love for them.

Small churches are doing most of the charitable works: If I'm understanding you correctly, you mean among churches, the little ones are doing most of the charitable works -- undoubtedly true. However I don't know how that holds up relative to secular charities and secular philanthropy and we can't know how it holds up against private and informal charity which is likely far larger than we might think. Regardless ... I am only proposing, effectively, that churches run their own secular charities anyway. It's not like I'd want to make them and whatever good works they do go away. And it's not like loss of tax exemptions for strictly theist activities will destroy them. The most it would do is cull the herd, but that would still leave plenty of churches for those who want to attend them -- and probably better churches as well.
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Hudson County, NJ
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You have a problem that churches don't pay taxes? Fine go ahead and tax them, also make sure to tax the poor while you're at it as well.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by nowitsshowtime View Post
You have a problem that churches don't pay taxes? Fine go ahead and tax them, also make sure to tax the poor while you're at it as well.
Red Herring. Taxing churches <> taxing the poor. Particularly not in the specific way that I favor, which is that any no-strings-attached charity activity would still be tax deductible, whether instigated by a church, or otherwise.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:27 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
56,143 posts, read 54,613,656 times
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post


We don't believe in god: True.

We think you are unintelligent morons for believing in god: Some of us do, I'm sure, most of us are less judgy than that but we will say that there's no empirical evidence for god belief and if you want to make that personal, that's your issue, not ours.
It's not really, and I normally don't take that sort of bait, just read that slur one too many times in a cranky mood, I guess. (I also believe in the power of coffee--it was early in the morning and I didn't have enough.) As the Quakers say, I can't tell you how I experience God and you can't tell me how you experience God--or, I will add, don't experience God at all. I know I'm not an unintelligent moron whether anyone else proclaims so or not.

To the topic, I do understand that some churches conduct themselves as a business, and I can see where people want to cry fowl that they don't pay taxes on their income. I've been to "Christian bookstores" attached to megachurches that sell books, jewelry, T-shirts, plaques and scores of other items, and it's obvious that in some cases it's nothing BUT a business. I would just hate to see small, humble groups who want nothing more than to put their beliefs into practice for the common good go down with those ships.

Last edited by Mightyqueen801; 09-05-2013 at 11:53 AM..
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Old 09-05-2013, 01:48 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,089,205 times
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Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
(I also believe in the power of coffee--it was early in the morning and I didn't have enough.)
Lol -- in that we agree. Coffee: the Elixer of Life.
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Old 09-05-2013, 01:52 PM
 
16,104 posts, read 17,907,645 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
Like it or not, it IS the churches in the area who have continued to help the Sandy victims.
I beg to differ with this (some churches certainly helped, but...)

Secular organizations band together to give aid to Hurricane Sandy victims - Philadelphia freethought | Examiner.com

Also, donorschoose.org which helps schools is secular and raised money for Sandy victims and also other victims of natural disasters.

I contributed to this one and there are ongoing efforts to help teachers and schools on this website.
Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund
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