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Scott Lloyd

What is a secular nation?

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40 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Why should a church have tax exempt status in the first place?

A church is like a charitable institution in that it contributes more or less altruistically to the well being of society and people generally and is thus entitled to a tax exemption in consideration of the service it gives.

I would further argue (though I have been challenged on it here) that tax exemption safeguards a church somewhat from the potential tyranny of a hostile government, thus ensuring the aim of a secular state to be neutral where religion is concerned. 

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1 hour ago, Teancum said:

I mostly agree with what you have very well written above. The only question I have is how to reconcile the issue of religious displays on public property?  If a nativity scene is allowed on the grounds of the town hall should an atheist display or a display by a satanic cult also be allowed to be displayed in the same public square? It seems be allowing such displays on public property opens us up to a situation of the majority religion having an advantage over the minority. I vaguely recall a situation somewhere in the south where prayer was routinely given and a local high school graduation ceremony and an LDS student was denied the opportunity to pray because they were a member of a "non-Christian cult."  

FWIW:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/they-havent-got-a-prayer/amp/

I grew up one of about 10 LDS kids in a high school of about 1500 students, about half of whom were Jewish. I am grateful we didn’t have prayer in school. In the Santa Fe case, local conservative Christian groups were trying to push their religious beliefs into the schools. It’s not surprising that one of the plaintiffs was LDS. They should be praised for standing up for their right to worship freely without state-sanctioned pressure. 

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On 9/8/2019 at 10:15 AM, MiserereNobis said:

This is exactly how it works in the high school where I teach. There are multiple religious clubs that meet together: Jesus Lunch (yes, that's the club's name), Christian Athletes, etc. I am currently teaching a unit on American origin myths so we have read multiple native American myths and are currently reading Genesis. I am forcing them to read religious texts but we are not reading them as religion, but as myths that help us understand a culture. Next we will read a chapter from Darwin's Descent of Man to check out a scientific origin myth.

Our AP English program requires summer reading, including excerpts from the Bible. Again, this is not to force religion, but to have the students learn the stories so they can catch and understand the allusions in literature. We also make them read Greek mythology for the same reason. I tell the students I'm not asking them to believe in the God of the Bible, just like I'm not asking them to believe in Zeus. In the last 15 years we've only had 1 complaint that has been brought to my attention and that was from a Jewish family that didn't want their son reading the New Testament (the Old Testament, of course, was fine...)

I require my students to do independent free choice reading and have had a few students pick the Bible over the years. No Book of Mormon yet. One kid wanted to read Mein Kempf, which I allowed after talking to his parents.

In theory I agree with you. The concern is the appearance of state supported religion. I was quite surprised the other day to see this Texas license plate:

undergod.png

The "one state under God" phrase is from the state's pledge of allegiance. I don't find that bothersome, just like "one nation under God" or "In God we trust" isn't bothersome. However, the clear reference to Calvary and Christianity, combined with the phrase, on an officially state issued plate, surely makes it seem like Texas is not only advocating Christianity but claiming to be a Christian state. I think this has crossed the line and shows that those who support such things really do want the government to be Christian.

I believe that any group that has come together because of religious issues (believers and atheists) and wants to influence government should have the right to do so but should not have tax exempt status. "Atheists for Democracy" should be able to advocate, just like "Christians for Morality," but both should pay taxes and be transparent. 

Regrettably, I had to remove my “like” reaction for  this post. I can’t go along with the part that was added later about tax exemption for religions. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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I am trying to figure out if that license plate is a covert call for succession in defiance of “one nation under God”. If so, I guess I have to go back to California.

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23 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Their rhetoric is often couched in the form of grumbling about the tax exempt status given to churches. As though to say religious people ought not enjoy freedom of speech without their churches bearing the consequence of losing their tax exemption. 

Can you see where such talk might have a chilling effect on people of faith, causing them to refrain from speaking in public on issues they care about for fear of repercussions being imposed upon their churches?

Oh clearly it's been happening for years, and that's why polls are irrelevant to the Trump phenomenon. Few on the right would dare tell pollsters their true opinions on anything. It's none of their business and who wants an argument or be called a deplorable.

When they go to the voting booth it's another story.

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22 hours ago, Jake Starkey said:

The isolated incidents above referred are . . . isolated . . . incidents.  Please stop fear mongering.

I personally would end all tax-exempt status for all private and religious institutions, period.

Which would cut philanthropy to 0.

The government would have to pick up the slack.

So you pay your tithing and do not get a tax deduction.

I work for years creating private foundations and charitable trusts advising people how they work.

Bill Gates does not have a foundation because he wants to be a nice guy. It is a tax necessity.

And the social capital alone brings even bigger benefits.

I know of a guy who set up a small private Foundation giving away tuition money to kids with low income.

For a few thousand bucks a year and being seen as a local community hero he saved probably millions on his final tax bill over his lifetime.

And then he had an insurance trust which paid him back everything he put into the foundation tax free.

These great philanthropists are not stupid people.

And corporations do the same thing.

They contribute to the school systems in which their employees children receive their education's and then get a science lab or wing of the school named after them.

I would suggest you may be naive about the tax system

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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2 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

A church is like a charitable institution in that it contributes more or less altruistically to the well being of society and people generally and is thus entitled to a tax exemption in consideration of the service it gives.

I would further argue (though I have been challenged on it here) that tax exemption safeguards a church somewhat from the potential tyranny of a hostile government, thus ensuring the aim of a secular state to be neutral where religion is concerned. 

Providing tax exemptions for religions is a violation of the First Amendment, in my view.  Religions should not receive favorable treatment.  Nor should charities for that matter.  On the other hand, contributions to religions and charitable contributions should not be taxed as they are not "income."  My view as a libertarian. 

Edited by Bob Crockett
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35 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

Providing tax exemptions for religions is a violation of the First Amendment, in my view.  Religions should not receive favorable treatment.  Nor should charities for that matter.  On the other hand, contributions to religions and charitable contributions should not be taxed as they are not "income."  My view as a libertarian. 

It's not a violation of the First Amendment. Religions do not receive inequitably favorable treatment thereby. Non-religious people, if they so choose, can set up a charity that acts like a church in that it provides for the needy and deserving, and they too can have a tax exemption for the charity they create.

So it appears it's not tax exemptions for religions that you oppose so much as tax exemptions for charities of any sort.

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

I am trying to figure out if that license plate is a covert call for succession in defiance of “one nation under God”. If so, I guess I have to go back to California.

Do you mean <secession>? If so, your comment makes sense. It doesn’t if you indeed mean <succession>. 

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

It's not a violation of the First Amendment. Religions do not receive inequitably favorable treatment thereby. Non-religious people, if they so choose, can set up a charity that acts like a church in that it provides for the needy and deserving, and they too can have a tax exemption for the charity they create.

So it appears it's not tax exemptions for religions that you oppose so much as tax exemptions for charities of any sort.

Religions do receive much greater favorable treatment because they do not pay income tax.

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14 minutes ago, Jake Starkey said:

Religions do receive much greater favorable treatment because they do not pay income tax.

Greater than charities? They don’t pay income tax either, do they?

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59 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Do you mean <secession>? If so, your comment makes sense. It doesn’t if you indeed mean <succession>. 

Spelling Nazi! :vader:<_<:rolleyes:

;):D

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Strictly speaking, your tax-exempt organization doesn’t even have to be a charity. To qualify as a 501 (c) (3) organization, it can be set up for any of the  following purposes:

  • Charitable,
  •  Educational,
  •  Religious,
  •  Scientific,
  •  Literary,
  •  Testing for public safety,
  •  Fostering national or internationalamateur sports competition, and/or
  •  Preventing cruelty to children or animals.

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3 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Do you mean <secession>? If so, your comment makes sense. It doesn’t if you indeed mean <succession>. 

It could. I am the rightful heir to the throne of Texas.

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17 hours ago, Ahab said:

The role of government is to provide for its citizens so if citizens do that it means the government doesn't have to spend as much money as it would have otherwise done or tried to do to help those people.  tax relief is just the government's way of saying "Thank you".

Hmmm. Well I provide jobs for employees of my firm, and health insurance and so on. My partners and I have built up a large firm where we employ a lot of people. Should we be tax exempt as well for our contribution?

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15 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

It's not a violation of the First Amendment. Religions do not receive inequitably favorable treatment thereby. Non-religious people, if they so choose, can set up a charity that acts like a church in that it provides for the needy and deserving, and they too can have a tax exemption for the charity they create.

So it appears it's not tax exemptions for religions that you oppose so much as tax exemptions for charities of any sort.

So you say and the appellate opinions favor you.  But, as a matter of dialogue and debate, if protective legislation favors a church, why wouldn't that be a violation of the Establishment Clause?   A gas station on a corner has a more difficult time operating than a church?  What makes a church so special for that kind of treatment as opposed to, say, a carpet store?

Applying classic libertarian thought here, religions and gun manufacturers should be placed on an equal footing with the rest of business.  No favoritism. No Second Amendment.  If a gun is misused in a foreseeable way, then tort law applies.  If a church makes money, it pays taxes.

Edited by Bob Crockett
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1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Hmmm. Well I provide jobs for employees of my firm, and health insurance and so on. My partners and I have built up a large firm where we employ a lot of people. Should we be tax exempt as well for our contribution?

Theoretically, no, because presumably you are in it primarily for commercial profit, unlike churches, charities and the other purposes for which a 501 (c) (3) qualifying organization is set up (see my above post). 

That people benefit from being employed by your firm is the result of a mutually beneficial business arrangement between you and them, not an altruistic grant on your part.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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29 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

So you say and the appellate opinions favor you.  But, as a matter of dialogue and debate, if protective legislation favors a church, why wouldn't that be a violation of the Establishment Clause?   A gas station on a corner has a more difficult time operating than a church?  What makes a church so special for that kind of treatment as opposed to, say, a carpet store?

Applying classic libertarian thought here, religions and gun manufacturers should be placed on an equal footing with the rest of business.  No favoritism. No Second Amendment.  If a gun is misused in a foreseeable way, then tort law applies.  If a church makes money, it pays taxes.

Yeah, but libertarian thought is generally bad.

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58 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

So you say and the appellate opinions favor you.  But, as a matter of dialogue and debate, if protective legislation favors a church, why wouldn't that be a violation of the Establishment Clause?   A gas station on a corner has a more difficult time operating than a church?  What makes a church so special for that kind of treatment as opposed to, say, a carpet store?

Applying classic libertarian thought here, religions and gun manufacturers should be placed on an equal footing with the rest of business.  No favoritism. No Second Amendment.  If a gun is misused in a foreseeable way, then tort law applies.  If a church makes money, it pays taxes.

It's not a violation of the establishment clause, because churches don't enjoy any greater entitlement than do charities and other 501 (c) (c) organizations. Again, a non-religious group could set up one of these organizations and enjoy the same tax-exempt status that churches do.

Arguably, subjecting a church to taxation is violating the free-exercise clause in that it hinders the church in its altruistic mission to serve the needy and deserving.

Furthermore, of the two of us, I’m the one with the more libertarian inclination in this debate, because I want to see churches left unmolested to pursue their noble aims, whereas you want to see them forcibly deprived of their means by governmental edict (taxation). 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Hmmm. Well I provide jobs for employees of my firm, and health insurance and so on. My partners and I have built up a large firm where we employ a lot of people. Should we be tax exempt as well for our contribution?

Well, the other factor at play here is whether the purpose of the business is to serve God or make money.  For some reason our secular governments seem to cringe at the thought of serving both God and mammon so you have to pick only one of those options when you tell them the purpose of your business.  So maybe you might want to fill that form out again???

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30 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Yeah, but libertarian thought is generally bad.

Are you thinking of <libertine> thought? Not the same as libertarian. 

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15 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Are you thinking of <libertine> thought? Not the same as libertarian. 

No, I like libertine thought though it is generally bad too.....unfortunately. :( 

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1 hour ago, Bob Crockett said:

So you say and the appellate opinions favor you.  But, as a matter of dialogue and debate, if protective legislation favors a church, why wouldn't that be a violation of the Establishment Clause?   A gas station on a corner has a more difficult time operating than a church?  What makes a church so special for that kind of treatment as opposed to, say, a carpet store?

Applying classic libertarian thought here, religions and gun manufacturers should be placed on an equal footing with the rest of business.  No favoritism. No Second Amendment.  If a gun is misused in a foreseeable way, then tort law applies.  If a church makes money, it pays taxes.

The tax exemption is for a charitable organization, not a religion. According to the tax code, the advancement of religion is a charitable activity. A church can be exempt on charitable activities and taxed on unrelated business activities. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf

“Congress has enacted special tax laws that apply to churches, religious organizations and ministers in recognition of their unique status in American society and of their rights guaran-teed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Churches and religious organizations are generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law; however, certain income of a church or religious organization may be subject to tax, such as income from an unrelated business.”

The churches do pay taxes if they make money. Charitable contributions is not "making money" because it is a voluntary, one-way transaction (no tangible goods or services are received) for ethereal benefit, or for the skeptical, notional benefit or self-satisfaction.

Edited by CV75
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2 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Theoretically, no, because presumably you are in it primarily for commercial profit, unlike churches, charities and the other purposes for which a 501 (c) (3) qualifying organization is set up (see my above post). 

That people benefit from being employed by your firm is the result of a mutually beneficial business arrangement between you and them, not an altruistic grant on your part.

Sure I understand the difference. But are there not mutually beneficial interactions between churches and parishioners? Maybe I am really reaching here and I will admit it.  However I will point out one thing. IRC 501(c)(3) is simply part of tax law that, like other parts of the tax law, is there to social engineer certain actions and behavior.  As I think you have pointed out., the government believes that granting tax exempt status to churches and other charities, schools and other not for profit organizations is good in order to foster certain activities by non governmental organizations.  There is really nothing more than that at play. If at some point the political climate and leaders feel the cost benefit of tax exemption is not beneficial to society there is no reason why that cannot change.

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2 hours ago, Ahab said:

Well, the other factor at play here is whether the purpose of the business is to serve God or make money.  For some reason our secular governments seem to cringe at the thought of serving both God and mammon so you have to pick only one of those options when you tell them the purpose of your business.  So maybe you might want to fill that form out again???

The government also grant tax exempt status to other organizations that are not in the religious realm including atheistic organizations.

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