California Tax Bill Seeks to Punish Scouts for Gay Ban

Calif. Tax Bill Seeks to Punish Scouts for Gay Ban

The legislation would deny tax-exempt status to nonprofit youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation.

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Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Forget about the scouts, what about all of the churches? Loss of state tax exemption means churches paying taxes on giving as well as property taxes.  There's also the Catholic hospitals. Talk about a huge hit all of a sudden!

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

paynen's picture

Technically youth groups don't have any "members" per say, and churches should be opening their arms to any youth who want to attend, although it would be clear that if they chose to attend their lifestyle would not be approved and it would be spoken against. and if there were issues with their flaunting of their lifestyle they may be asked to leave.

 

The bigger issue is for leaders, obviously.

 

But on the other hand isn't it the governments prerogative to do what they wish as far as tax exemption? Should not the giver of financial freedoms have some sort of say in what they want from those to whom they allow to keep money? Not saying I approve of what they are doing in California, but I think we need to come to the realization that in a secular world we will need to make some sacrifices. Tax exemption is not a right that we as local churches somehow deserve. It is something that we enjoyed, but shouldn't expect to keep. 

 

I think again here, that there is some merit to the traditional Baptist view of separation of church and state.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Paynen wrote: ...the giver of financial freedoms...

Funny, I was still under the impression that freedom was a right, not gift and that the government was servant of the people not master. Once was subscribe to the government as the bestower of our rights instead of the protector of our rights, we succumb to tyranny.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

SimonV's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Paynen wrote: ...the giver of financial freedoms...

Funny, I was still under the impression that freedom was a right, not gift and that the government was servant of the people not master. Once was subscribe to the government as the bestower of our rights instead of the protector of our rights, we succumb to tyranny.

 

Ditto. I troubles me that so many people (self included) so often talk like this country is divided into separate groups of "the people" and "the government". The people are the government. At least that's the way it was supposed to be...

Andrew K.'s picture

paynen wrote:

Technically youth groups don't have any "members" per say, and churches should be opening their arms to any youth who want to attend, although it would be clear that if they chose to attend their lifestyle would not be approved and it would be spoken against. and if there were issues with their flaunting of their lifestyle they may be asked to leave.

 

The bigger issue is for leaders, obviously.

 

But on the other hand isn't it the governments prerogative to do what they wish as far as tax exemption? Should not the giver of financial freedoms have some sort of say in what they want from those to whom they allow to keep money? Not saying I approve of what they are doing in California, but I think we need to come to the realization that in a secular world we will need to make some sacrifices. Tax exemption is not a right that we as local churches somehow deserve. It is something that we enjoyed, but shouldn't expect to keep. 

 

I think again here, that there is some merit to the traditional Baptist view of separation of church and state.

Isn't that like saying we don't deserve all our money? That seems backwards to me. Not saying that govts don't have the right to tax where and when they want to, but they have to provide a rationale for the taxation (schools, roads, employees, etc.)--we don't have to provide a rationale for the "right" to keep our own money.

Most churches provide services (charitable and such) that benefit society at no cost to the government. Tax exemption is the govt. acknowledging those benefits. Of course they deserve it.

神是爱

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

It seems the thinking here might be exactly backwards. The right is for private entities to keep their money, not for the government to seize it. My history students (and frequently my adult friends) are always amazed to learn that up until about 100 years ago with the passing of the 16th amendment, Americans, every one of them, had absolute discretion over every single penny they had. The government, with the permission of the citizens, identified certain places where taxes would be levied, such as on property, and each citizen had the choice whether or not to spend their money in that arena and be taxed voluntarily. I teach my students a simple principle that has been floating around the airwaves this week a lot in a quote by Margaret Thatcher, which is that there is no such thing as government (or public as Thatcher called it) money, there is only the people's money. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Mike Harding's picture

Great comments Chip.  Thank you for standing up for the church, freedom, a proper understanding of the US Constitution, and against the tyranny of the left.  This is only the beginning of what will be an unrelenting assault upon people who love decency, God, the church, and the gospel.  Get ready.  It is coming with a vengeance by the militant pagans on the left. 

 

Regarding taxation:  "The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples' money"  by Margaret Thatcher.

Pastor Mike Harding

paynen's picture

The truth is money doesn't actually belong to you. Think about when Christ dealt with unfair taxes. Whose name is on our money? The governments. The money belongs to the government. The government basically controls it prints it and decides how it is disseminated. Not that I agree with them taking tax exemption from churches, but it is their right as the government to make those decisions.

Mike Harding's picture

By that reasoning, the government can steal all of our money.  Pelosi, Reid, and Obama--that's how they think.  Clearly the left is abusing the US tax code to punish good and reward evil---and that is evil!!!  Jesus was speaking of personal tax responsibility and not giving the government the power to potentially tax the church out of existence.  The US constitution does not give the government the right to tax church property or the donations to the church.  We are a nation of laws, not of men.  The laws are subject to the US constitution as originally written and properly interpreted in the federalist papers. The left act as if they are imperialistic kings and Russian czars, persecuting and punishing all those who don't heed their anti-God agenda.

Pastor Mike Harding

TylerR's picture

Editor

Paynen:

Where do you stand on this particular issue? It is well and good to issue philosophical proclamations about the role of government and the origin of printed currency. Enough of this - where do you stand on the issue and what will you do in your sphere of influence to encourage change consistent with Biblical principles? 

There is a time for being an aloof and dispassionate observer. There is also a time for action.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

paynen's picture

I think I was fairly clear. I enjoy the benefits of the Church being tax exempt. Yet it is not our right according to any document or view. Our responsibility is to follow the law in regards to taxes, fair or not. That was clearly Christ's teaching, and it applies directly to this situation. Christ was being questioned basically God or Man in regards to finances. Render unto God what is God's and render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser's. I am a libertarian. I am opposed to strong government influence and high government spending. Yet, you must also ask yourself what right does a church have to be tax exempt? Any supporting answer would more then likely break true separation of church and state, which as a Baptist I find of utmost importance. What right do we have to "our" money, without the government saying it is our right to it? Money is just a symbol of how the government applies worth to the efforts of individuals. Money in truth is owned and controlled by the government. I would prefer a government that taxes fairly and conservatively, and I will vote to that end. But claiming a right to something that doesn't really actually belong to you is a bit of a misunderstanding of how economy and capitalism actually works.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Paynen:

I'm not asking about your philosophy of government. I don't care about your philosophy of government. I am talking about real world decisions and stands you will be called to make.

I don't know if you are in a leadership position at your church or not. Suppose you are a Pastor. A church member comes to you;

"Pastor, have you heard that they want to get rid of the Boy Scout's tax exempt status in California because of their stand on homosexuality!? What is happening to this country!? What about God's standards!?"

You say:

I enjoy the benefits of the Church being tax exempt. Yet it is not our right according to any document or view. Our responsibility is to follow the law in regards to taxes, fair or not. That was clearly Christ's teaching, and it applies directly to this situation.

Member says:

Pastor, are you saying Christians shouldn't speak out on bills like this which attack an organization's stand for God's law?!

You say . . . what? I want to know what your answer is to this church member.

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

Forget about "what would you say" .... "what would you do?' If / when

  • The government ends tax exemptions for churches (because of let's say - refusal to perform same-sex marriages or refusal to permit same-sex 'married' couple / professing Christians to join one's church). What this might mean practically:

    • Members who itemize deductions would no longer be able to deduct donations on Federal IRS form Schedule A lines 16-19 (Gifts to Charity) (Sample)
    • Church buys office items at Staples ... now is expected to pay sales tax
    • Church now required to file a 990 form just like other charities
    • A 990 form for churches now shows profit and loss ... and the Federal government requires a church to pay tax on the profit
  • The Pastor no longer can separate salary into "Housing Allowance" and non-housing allowance.  What this practically would mean ... a giant tax increase for the pastor
  • Your local government sends your church a property tax bill. For the church property AND for the parsonage 

Possible outcomes:

  1. Member does not claim contribution to church as an itemized deduction. The church donation is in the same category as a donation to say the Republican party  or the NRA (from their site: "Contributions, gifts or membership dues made or paid to the National Rifle Association of America are not refundable or transferable and are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes")
  2. Failure to file a tax form (the 990 example) would be punishable by law (not sure who would be hit by this ... the church treasurer?)
  3. Failure to pay a tax (the 990 example) would result in fines and could ultimately result in seizure of property
  4. The Pastor and the housing allowance: His reportable salary would look quite different. And failure to report income would be a felony
  5. The property tax illustration: Failure to pay property tax would result in a lien against the property and ultimately could result in seizure of the property

What I would do (synchs with possible outcome points):

  1. As a church member, I would continue to give the same amount AND NOT claim the donations as a charitable contribution on Schedule A)
  2. If I were the church treasurer, I would file Schedule 990)
  3. If I were the church treasuer, I would pay a tax on the profits
  4. If I were a Pastor, I would report my entire salary and pay tax on that amount (just like everyone else does)
  5. If I were the church treasurer I would pay the property tax

What would you do?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Could you do my taxes next year . . . !?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

MShep2's picture

paynen wrote:
I think I was fairly clear. I enjoy the benefits of the Church being tax exempt. Yet it is not our right according to any document or view. Our responsibility is to follow the law in regards to taxes, fair or not. .....

Whoa, whoa, whoa - hold the phone! When our government was set up, the founders created a government that was to exist separately from the church. The government does not tax the church because it does not "own" or control the church. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

The power to tax is the power to control. Tax exempt law in regards to churches (or other religions) finds its basis in the First Amendment. However, since this does not apply to "clubs" and other Non-profit entities, the govt. can decide whether or not to tax them.

 

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

paynen's picture

MShep2 wrote:

paynen wrote:
I think I was fairly clear. I enjoy the benefits of the Church being tax exempt. Yet it is not our right according to any document or view. Our responsibility is to follow the law in regards to taxes, fair or not. .....

Whoa, whoa, whoa - hold the phone! When our government was set up, the founders created a government that was to exist separately from the church. The government does not tax the church because it does not "own" or control the church. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

The power to tax is the power to control. Tax exempt law in regards to churches (or other religions) finds its basis in the First Amendment. However, since this does not apply to "clubs" and other Non-profit entities, the govt. can decide whether or not to tax them.

 

Your actually thinking of this backwards.  If all are taxed the same then there is not right for the government to tell you to do things. If you are given privileges then the government has a say in what the requirements are to meet those privileges. Since the church is using capital which, is tied to the government, then it is prospect to whatever rules the government decides, unless it can pull off its own form of currency. But if what you say is true in any way shape or form, as in churches exempt status is different then other non-profits, then we can shut down this thread due to the fact that what happens to boy scouts has no effect on us at all... which I don't think is true...

 

I would agree with Jim as well. I would tell whoever asked me that what happened is unfortunate and if you can vote against it... but we have no right to disobey the government. We are not going to refuse to pay those taxes. What else can we do. I would also tell him the last several things I said as well. The government made laws regarding our taxes and we have to obey them. We must render to Ceaser what is Ceaser's. The government is not forcing us to do anything immoral or anything against what God is asking us to do. So we have no merit to disobey them. It may make things more difficult and our pockets tighter, but God is still on the throne and will still provide what we need so long as it is His will for us to be here. Once the government crosses the line, as far as requiring us to do what God doesn't want us to do or vice versa then we will deal with that when it comes.

MShep2's picture

paynen wrote:
Your actually thinking of this backwards.  If all are taxed the same then there is not right for the government to tell you to do things. If you are given privileges then the government has a say in what the requirements are to meet those privileges.....

No, you said a tax-exempt status "is not our right according to any document or view." My post contradicted this assertion of yours, not how some have used the tax code to control non-profits. Again, this is not a "privilege" given by the government, since our government has never had the constitutional right to tax churches.

Obviously using a tax-exempt status as a means of control has been practiced by the IRS since Lyndon Johnson was able to alter the IRS code in 1954 prohibiting non-profits and churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates. He did this because conservatives were opposed to his reelection. However, this has never been challenged in court where a church had its tax-exempt status revoked for allowing political speech from the pulpit.

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

paynen's picture

I understand exactly what you said. The issue is its validity, I don't know of any documentation that makes it unlawful for churches to be taxed. It seems to be you are just extending separation of church and state beyond its definition. Tax exemption is a privilege, not a right.

MShep2's picture

Paynen: if you do a quick search on the internet you can easily find the "documentation" that makes it unlawful to tax churches - the document is the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, Article 1.

From this link: http://churchesandtaxes.procon.org/

1. Exempting churches from taxation upholds the separation of church and state embodied by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The US Supreme Court, in a majority opinion written by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York, decided May 4, 1970, stated: "The exemption creates only a minimal and remote involvement between church and state, and far less than taxation of churches. It restricts the fiscal relationship between church and state, and tends to complement and reinforce the desired separation insulating each from the other." [5]

2. The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution bars the US government from limiting the free expression of religion. By demanding church taxes, the government becomes empowered to penalize or shut down churches if they default on their payments. [12] The US Supreme Court confirmed this in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) when it stated: "the power to tax involves the power to destroy."

I think one of the best arguments is from McCulloch v. Maryland - "the power to tax involves the power to destroy." If churches are taxed, they can be shut down for not paying taxes and it would be easy for the govt. to craft a law to shut down certain churches by giving them an onerous tax burden they could not pay.

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Andrew K.'s picture

paynen wrote:
The truth is money doesn't actually belong to you. Think about when Christ dealt with unfair taxes. Whose name is on our money? The governments. The money belongs to the government. The government basically controls it prints it and decides how it is disseminated. Not that I agree with them taking tax exemption from churches, but it is their right as the government to make those decisions.

In context, Jesus was simply answering a duplicitous question about the necessity of paying taxes. We have obligations to the government for their protection and services, absolutely. That's hardly the same thing as saying the government owns all our money.

Currency is, from one perspective, merely a portable form of my labor. Does the government own all my labor then as well? This can be pressed to outrageous levels.

神是爱

paynen's picture

If that is what the government required, then yes. I'm not speaking ethically, I am speaking technically. If tomorrow we woke up in a Marxist country, what would you as a Christian do? Biblically? I'm not saying that the government doing whatever it wants with the Economical system is right, but without living outside of what Christ would have us to do, there is not much for us to do in response outside of what the government allows us to do, vote accordingly.

paynen's picture

MShep2 wrote:
Paynen: if you do a quick search on the internet you can easily find the "documentation" that makes it unlawful to tax churches - the document is the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, Article 1.

From this link: http://churchesandtaxes.procon.org/

1. Exempting churches from taxation upholds the separation of church and state embodied by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The US Supreme Court, in a majority opinion written by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York, decided May 4, 1970, stated: "The exemption creates only a minimal and remote involvement between church and state, and far less than taxation of churches. It restricts the fiscal relationship between church and state, and tends to complement and reinforce the desired separation insulating each from the other." [5]

2. The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution bars the US government from limiting the free expression of religion. By demanding church taxes, the government becomes empowered to penalize or shut down churches if they default on their payments. [12] The US Supreme Court confirmed this in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) when it stated: "the power to tax involves the power to destroy."

I think one of the best arguments is from McCulloch v. Maryland - "the power to tax involves the power to destroy." If churches are taxed, they can be shut down for not paying taxes and it would be easy for the govt. to craft a law to shut down certain churches by giving them an onerous tax burden they could not pay.

you misunderstand what I mean by documentation. Somebodies interpretation is not official documentation. Separation of church and state does not "protect" from taxation. Taxation is based on the flow of capital not religion. As Long as churches use government capital that capital is subject to tax unless the government decides it is exempt. The government can decide who is worthy of exemption. We can influence that based on voting, not by ranting and raving about rights.

Andrew K.'s picture

paynen wrote:
If that is what the government required, then yes. I'm not speaking ethically, I am speaking technically. If tomorrow we woke up in a Marxist country, what would you as a Christian do? Biblically? I'm not saying that the government doing whatever it wants with the Economical system is right, but without living outside of what Christ would have us to do, there is not much for us to do in response outside of what the government allows us to do, vote accordingly.

That's not what I asked, though. Are you speaking about responses or rights? I asked if the government has a right to all my labor and money, not what we as Christians should do if the situation arose where those were taken by force. The two are not the same thing. Jesus also told us to turn our cheek when someone hits us. Does that mean he has the right to strike us?

The Bible clearly operates on the assumption that our labor and earnings belong first to God but the stewardship belongs to us, not to another. If our earnings are taken by another, what then becomes of stewardship? What our response should be if someone takes those earnings by force is a separate matter altogether.

神是爱

paynen's picture

The government is our authority corrupt or not, Unless biblical commands over ride it the government has the right to do whatever it wants.

Andrew K.'s picture

paynen wrote:
The government is our authority corrupt or not, Unless biblical commands over ride it the government has the right to do whatever it wants.

Authority is not an all-or-nothing scenario. All authority comes from God and is only applicable to those spheres to which God has extended it. My boss is my authority as well, but he has no authority to tell me how to raise my children.

神是爱

paynen's picture

Agreed, but God has not clearly limited governmental authority, except when their rules go against God. Your government tells you In general ways to raise your children, does it not. You or I don't have the ability to define where the governments authority stops when scripture doesn't give it that limit.

MShep2's picture

paynen wrote:
......you misunderstand what I mean by documentation. Somebodies interpretation is not official documentation. Separation of church and state does not "protect" from taxation. Taxation is based on the flow of capital not religion. As Long as churches use government capital that capital is subject to tax unless the government decides it is exempt. The government can decide who is worthy of exemption. We can influence that based on voting, not by ranting and raving about rights.

The SCOTUS is not just "somebody" and their interpretations carry the force of law. Actually, this is not even new to the U.S. since in the U.K. they use the vast history of common law to also give churches tax exemption.

Your argument about capital and taxation of churches is specious. The "government" doesn't decide if there is to be a free press - it is given as a "right" in the constitution. The "government" doesn't decide whether or not people have a right to a jury trial, it is given as a right in the constitution. 

The original purpose of the U.S. Constitution was to delineate what the Federal govt. could do. Anything not found in the Constitution was not allowed. However, many of the States' representatives felt that without a Bill of Rights, this would one day be misunderstood and the government would go outside of its bounds of authority, so they demanded its adoption as a condition of their acceptance of the Constitution.

While I do agree that we need to express our beliefs by voting for good representatives to Congress, referring to our rights given in the Constitution is not "ranting and raving." The history of the Congress is full of Representatives and Senators voting what they feel is the will of their constituents and then having the law struck down by the courts when it seen to be against the Constitution. 

There are two other issues that you need to reconsider, but I don't have time now to go into them. First, you seem to refer to "government" as an entity that exists entirely to itself. There is no such thing. This is seen in the Declaration of Independence:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

and reflected in what James Madison felt should be the first article of the Bill of Rights:

First. That there be prefixed to the constitution a declaration That all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from the people.
     That government is instituted, and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

Second, your understanding of capital and currency seems to only go back to Nixon's time when the gold standard was abandoned for the "fiat currency" system. (This is defined as money that is intrinsically useless; is used only as a medium of exchange.) While it is true that the U.S. government (in a sense) creates money and we use it for exchange, that does not mean that all who use this fiat currency are subject to whatever whim the "government" may decide to do with it.

Now, your arguments hold much more weight if you are talking about the govt. giving the Kiwanis club or the Red Cross a tax exempt status - they just don't apply to churches.

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Andrew K.'s picture

paynen wrote:
Agreed, but God has not clearly limited governmental authority, except when their rules go against God. Your government tells you In general ways to raise your children, does it not. You or I don't have the ability to define where the governments authority stops when scripture doesn't give it that limit.

But then if you hold to a strict separation of church and state, how could you argue for any limitations on the government at all? Provided the state is not composed of Bible believing men who therefore would not agree to those limitations, that is.

神是爱

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