April 9, 2009
Separation of Church and State, should churches have tax immunity, and no accountablity for expenses and income?
This story is from the cult of Warren Jeffs, now ran by his brother while he is in prison for life.
Interresting how this is a fundementalist and very controversial part of the Morman church, and one that probably wants total separation of church and state, no government interference whatsoever, but I guess they draw the line when it comes to defrauding the US government. Not only is the organization guilty, so are everyone of them who allowed thier benifits to be misused. Unchecked for years, Jeffs was abusing children, sexually and with labor laws. the brother doesn't seem much better.
This goes along with the debate we have had about tax immunity vs tax exemption, where immunity would mean no filing of taxes whatsoever and no accountablity, and abuse like this would just be uncontrolable. Granted this is one of the most extreme religious concepts, but no church or religion should not have to proove their legitimacy, income and expenses, and this is a good reason why, just like Jim and Tammy Fae Baker misusing millions of donations for a lavish lifestyle. Either way its about accountability, showing the American taxpayers they are not being defrauded while we pay taxes that support them.
April 9, 2009
Wait a minute, assuming you are talking about all churches, how do our tax dollars support them?
Obviously, there was financial fraud going on in this case involving government money, therefore the government did the right thing.
However, I totally disagree with tax exemption, and for obvious reasons. Cults exist, always have and always will, but it is not up to the government to decide what constitutes a "proper" church by holding the tax exemption over their head. The government can, realistically, determine what a church preaches by threatening to remove their tax exempt status if they chose to do so. We haven't reached that point yet, but we are heading in that direction. Very dangerous in my opinion. The government has NO business being in religion, meaning they have no business sanctioning one over the other, nor do they have any business hindering any. Unless, of course, they are clearly breaking civil laws.
April 9, 2009
Any exemption for anyone by definition means you do not have to pay a tax for qualifying reasons. That simply means the burden is on all the other taxpayers to pay those taxes, that support government services that even churches benifit from.
As long as you qualify for an exemption, our system allows it, as it does for churches and religions having special exemptions. So churches and religions benifit from many government services without being taxed, so the taxpayers in that regard, do support churches.
In this case, we agree this is a extreme situation and stretch of the Constitution about freedom of religion. I do not even think the Morman church agrees with them or even considers them Mormans. They misused these foodstamp funds, it was fraud for sure.
My point was OT and I have debated total tax immunity, vs tax exemptions for churches, and the laws of 501c non profits. The law is clear about rules to qualify for those exemptions, and requires filings and proof you are legitimate. Total tax immunity would have no rules, and no documentation of income and expenses. He argues, no religion should have to file papers and proove themselves. My feeling is we have to have a system that verifys legitimate religions, and some system that is reasonable.
Its a fine line on the rules of what they can do as far as political issues with a 501c, the biggest example of the extreme of that is the Westborrow Baptists activity. I doubt if they even get tax exemptions.
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