Since those of us here do not routinely attend church services (with the possible exception of anthropologists doing research), most of us may not know that today, October 7th, is the day across America when churches are planning to take on the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (for our non US members - the IRS is the government agency that collects taxes). Here in America, there is a law that states religious institutions are exempt from paying taxes. BUT ONLY if they do not engage in political activity.

A number of US preachers are planning on intentionally violating that government prohibition today, and touting their personal politics and favorite candidates from the pulpit. The ones who have been on the talks shows (white evangelical christians) are obviously favoring Republicans and Mitt Romney, stating that Jesus and the Bible demands it. Yeah, as we all know, 'ole J.C. was a card carrying member of the American Teaparty. However, and to be fair, I have no doubt churches where the minister and members of the congregation are predominantly of the liberal persuasion do the same thing, only for the other side. And, I seriously doubt 'ole J.C. was a card carrying member of the Democratic Party, either. Having been a former political candidate, I've seen both types of churches engage in their personal brand of political campaigning. It's really nothing new for either side.

One thing that is true is that this rule against churches engaging in politics is relatively new. It was instituted in 1954, and from the anecdotal stories I've encountered, was passed by Lyndon Johnson (while in the US Senate), when a a church or charity was planning to actively campaign against him.

Personal opinion is that the rule should never have been put into place. I think churches and their shamans (priests and ministers) have the same right of free speech as anyone else. HOWEVER, I don't believe they should have ever been tax exempt. Religion, especially here in America, is a business - a Big business that generates billions in income per year. And, like any other business, they're selling a service. Granted, a bad service or, if you will, a disservice by promoting magic, superstition, and a false belief in a phony afterlife. But, just like Kraft Foods, Inc., General Motors, Colt Manufacturing, etc., they have a market in which they compete for customers (our magic is better than their magic), hire employees, promote their product, and do all those other things in which legitimate businesses engage. So why should they be exempt from taxation in the first place?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion... Sure seems they did with the tax code.  


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