Time to Act
- by karlsie
- Posted on 12 June, 2009
By The David
It is time for all of us who care about preserving the Constitution and the very necessary separation of Church and State to act.
First understand, I do not speak against those who follow a religion or those who look toward a God for comfort. I am not anti-Christian, anti-Jew, anti-Muslim, anti-Buddhist, anti-Wiccan, anti-Agnostic or Anti-Atheist. I am not anti-anything except when one’s beliefs are used as an excuse to persecute or otherwise pummel an individual or group. When this is done by an individual it is usually the work of a fanatic in his or her misguided belief that he or she is an agent of god. When it is done by an Institution, it is coldly calculated to hurt. It aims at those areas that are personal and held dear.
It is time for us to act. It is time for us to let the institutional organized religions know that “we are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it anymore.” It is time for us to mount our own campaign that will hit the organizations right where it will hurt. We must hit them in what they value most….. their pocketbook, their bank account.
We live in a time where Organized Religion and individual Churches have over- stepped the area that should separate the business of God from the business of Caesar. We saw it in the last three Presidential elections where the pulpit was used to either tell the congregants who to vote for, or rather who not to vote for because the candidate believed in “a woman’s right to choose, homosexual rights, women’s rights, affirmative action”, or any other thought that was different from the tenets expressed by the particular church or its Ministers. Time and again we have watched as the line that separates Church from State has been blurred and irreparably breached.
Churches are tax-exempt. Religions are tax exempt. The Government, in effect is subsidizing religion by allowing the churches to enjoy this tax-free status. Believe it or not, I don’t have a problem with this…. as long as the Churches uphold their part in the agreement.
Their part is simply to refrain from politicking. Their part is to avoid using the pulpit to denounce a particular candidate because he or she does not agree with a particular church’s teachings. Their part dictates that they not pass out literature within the church that exhorts their members to vote a certain ticket. Their part is to NOT use tax-free money or supplies to subsidize a candidate or promote a viewpoint on a referendum that should be left to the people as an independent force.
People have their own prejudices, many of them fostered by a religion. Those are so ingrained they cannot be left outside the voting booth. I am not criticizing these. If a person enters his vote based on their own inner voice, that vote should not be challenged.
The undue influence of the institutional churches are another matter entirely. When either from the pulpit or on Church property the Minister directs his congregation to vote a certain way on an Initiative or to vote either for or against a candidate, then that Minister is betraying a trust, and negates the right of that Church to maintain itself as a tax-free entity.
We saw the influence of the various institutional churches do the damage in California and the result was the loss of a Right that was earned after centuries of marching through fire. A great part of the money that was used to put aside same-sex marriage came from Utah and the Mormon Church. There were also many churches in California that pressured their membership to vote to end the right of all people to enter into a legal marriage and to reinstate a centuries old prejudice.
Currently, in Maine where same-sex marriage has been legalized by the State Legislature, the Roman Catholic Church is using all of its influence to gather signatures to oppose the recently passed law and put it on the ballot for popular vote. The Church’s right to exert its influence on any referendum or voter petition is patently unethical if done on Church property, or by using church resources and could result in the loss of the tax-free status the Diocese enjoys. If the Church itself is skating close to the illegal and the unethical, what is its value to society?
One must consider not only the preaching and instruction in the churches on matters political, but also its use of resources that were purchased with their tax-free monies, and utilized in the churches political battles.
Any entity that enjoys a tax-free status is bound to refrain from politicking either in favor of or against any candidate or voter initiative. If such politicking occurs, the Internal Revenue Service needs to investigate and the tax-free status of the Church needs to be withdrawn. This should also be the action of State and Municipal Governments as well. I am not advocating that all religious organization be taxed, but I am advocating that those guilty of either breaking or bending the rules by which they have secured their freedom from taxes have their status revoked.
The preachers have a right to their opinion and have the right to vote their conscience. No one could possibly object to that. They cannot promote their view or the view of their church’s hierarchy using Church property or resources that have been purchased with tax-free monies. This includes the gathering of petition signatures and the placing of signs on Church property. It includes the donating of supplies or personnel to print pamphlets and the making of pamphlets and/or fliers available on church property.
Churches need to be put on notice that they cannot continue with their hate-spiels unless they are willing to pay taxes along with the rest of us.
We need to be in touch with our legislators and we need to start a grass-root movement where-in our letters will be numerous enough to put these Legislators on notice to either investigate the churches for politicking, or be faced with losing their seats at the next election. It might be that such a movement would also make the Churches aware that they are in danger of being hit, and hit hard right in the cash supply they hold in such high regard.
If we see any of these breaches happening or any election or initiative being hijacked by any religious entity, it is time to act. If we mount a grass-roots letter writing campaign it could very well put the “fear of their Lord” (so to speak) back into the Church-men and quite possibly lead us to a time when the churches move back to doing their religious work, and back off from those things that are either cultural or belong to Caesar.
By The David It is time for all of us who care about preserving the Constitution and the very necessary separation of Church and State to act. First understand, I do not speak against those who follow a religion or those who look toward a God for comfort. I am not anti-Christian, anti-Jew, anti-Muslim, anti-Buddhist,…
It leaves me to wonder with disturbing frequency, how feedom of religion came to be interpreted as freedom to present a dogmatic view of Chritainity as the representative of our Nation at the exclusion of all other belief systems. Rule by a majority that excludes the rights of the minorities ignores the principles of free thought as stated in our Bill of Rights. This mediaeval concept can do nothing but throw us into another dark age of superstition and witch hunts, as it discourages the progression of learning, understanding and knowledge. A civilized society is a humane one; a society that generously shares its experiences, its abilities and its gifts for the common good. A barbaric society, despite all the technology it may acquire, is one that sanctions harm to others of different religious beliefs, life styles, life choices, race or cultural distinctions than their own.
I am concerned with how this tax-free line would be drawn when looking at taking that away from churches when they politick. I agree that churches who make money from their parishinors in the form of merchandise like we see with some of our Mega-churches should be taxed. Also there should be no signage of political nature in churches and polls should not be taked reqiring parishinors to tell how they vote. Voting encouragement should not be given from the pulpit. I hardly think we can do anything about what is being said in the halls.
I will point our that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) did not have any political signage, petitions in or on church grounds although members did have free signage delivered to them to put up in their yards. Those who chose not to participate in phone trees, signage, and canvassing where ridiculed and given the evil eye by their brethren and sisters in Christ. However other than several letters read from the pulpit from Salt Lake City no politicing was done during sabbath service hours. The problem is this church has huge in place information and service programs it’s easy to bystep the in-church issue.
Other churches by the way did have signs on their billboards, on their ‘church lady fans’ and signed petitions in congreations. In my own community Pleasant Valley Baptist was very active in this sort of thing.
I do have a huge problem with how much money was spent by people outside of California on this issue, particularly Utah and the Mormon population. I think some kind of safety measure should be put into place so outside stated don’t have so much influence on how we vote. Hours were spend on Phone trees at personal expense by Utah families and I find this undue input from people whose lives will not be affected by California’s outcome (although they beg to difffer)
This would have also affected the in-pouring of money for the pro-gay marriage side as we know a lot of out of state and even out of contry folks sent money for the support of both sides.
What strikes me most and pisses me off is that all this money poured in to support or not support this issue which to my mind should not even be an issue. And the same people skimp on other areas of their own proposed mission to house the poor, care for the elderly, take care of the fatherless. I guarantee more money was raised by all individuals in the Prop8 issue than has in the past or will be raised for chuch based public welfare programs. This is sad sad sad.
I’m not sure a “fear of the Lord” practice would be effective in dealing with this. If polled I think you will find it is their fear of the Lord that caused this voting debacle. Approaching this from a fight back standpoint may make things worse. Of course I do not advocate not speaking up for injustice even when it is churches, but I would like to see a tailored approach in dealing with each community of churches as they all see things so very differently. Threatening of tax-free status is one of the issues that was raised in favor of Prop8. And that voting population was dumb enought to buy it. I think if we start yelling you’re gonna lose your tax-free status especially now and in this climate, we are going to have unhappy and unforseen affects that we would not wish.
Part of the right of churches to remain tax-free comes from their status as non-political entities. When they choose to become involved in the political arena, they willingly and knowingly change their status. When they blur the line between church and state… it is my belief they should forego the tax free benefit. Remaining tax-free although political gives the religions an advantage in the cultural wars. It is patently offensive to me that they should receive a tax break and be involved in a fight to deny me the same rights that other citizens take for granted.
“It is patently offensive to me that they should receive a tax break and be involved in a fight to deny me the same rights that other citizens take for granted.”
This is offensive to me as well, however I feel it important to remember that members of any given congregation and of any faith can and do act en masse according to what they have been taught and believe. Sometimes this makes it seem as if a Church has over-reached its tax free stature, when in reality it is individual citizens, albeit in huge numbers with a lot in common who are those who need a change of heart.
It’s time to celebrate the collapse of Proposition 8! Gays and lesbians now have real human rights in the state of California!