I agree with The Des Moines Register editorial that the law that bans churches from endorsing specific candidates, (the Johnson Amendment), should not be repealed. (See link below.)
The Register still has it wrong. (“Churches cross line with political endorsements”, 4/9/2015 – see link below.) Churches with ministers who advocate for specific candidates should be allowed to be tax exempt. But donors who contribute to them should not get a charitable tax deduction.
There are two types of tax-exempt organizations. First, there are the Charitable, Religious and Educational organizations, (tax code 501c3 organizations), that pay no income taxes, (and often don’t pay other taxes), plus donors get a charitable tax deduction on their income taxes for the amount of their contribution. Second, there are all other tax-exempt organizations that pay no income taxes, (and often don’t pay other taxes), but donors do NOT get a charitable deduction. They are properly classified as tax exempt, since they are organized to not make any kind of profit, but their activities are not charitable, so no charitable tax deduction is given.
There are many tax exempt organizations that do not make any profit, but that are not charitable and whose donors don’t get a tax deduction. They include Rotary clubs, political parties, country clubs, political issue organizations, chambers of commerce, special interest clubs, etc. None of them try to make any profit, but they are not charitable.
To the extent that any not-for-profit organization advocates for or against specific candidates, that organization is not doing charitable work. It is doing political work. Under the principle of equal treatment under the law, donors to churches that advocate for specific candidates should not get a charitable tax deduction. If a church wants its donors to receive a charitable tax deduction for contributions made, then the minister should not advocate for candidates from the pulpit, or through any other communication from the church.
Link to Register editorial: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/caucus/2015/04/08/rgisters-editorial-churches-cross-line-political-endorsements/25500433/
After witnessing the deluge of outside political advertising that inundated Iowa during this latest election cycle, it’s easy to conclude that our government should place limits on political contributions and political advertising. But our Supreme Court correctly decided in the Citizens United case that governments should not be allowed to limit the independent political expenditures of groups of people, even if they are organized as corporations.Most of the corporations that make independent expenditures for or against candidates or ballot issues are simply groups of like minded people who have come together to promote their common beliefs. They are not profit-making corporations that run businesses and sell stock on Wall Street. Citizens United is a group of people who are organized as a corporation explicitly for the purpose of promoting a political agenda.If contributions are given directly to a candidate, there is good reason for concern about bribery and corruption. But as long as people or groups are independent of candidates and their campaigns, they should be free to spend as much of their own money as they want, and they should not have to disclose the names of contributors. Our founding fathers published pamphlets and other communications anonymously when they advocated against their rulers and called for a revolution. They were very much thinking about political speech when they wrote in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
The Des Moines Register reported today (7/24/2014) that, “An Iowa newspaper editor fired after publishing his views on homosexuals is claiming he was the victim of religious discrimination by his former employer.” He has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Editors of newspapers should not be protected by laws against discrimination in employment based on religious belief. Newspapers are privately owned businesses that typically express the opinions of their owners. They benefit our society by their independent advocacy regarding public policy. They should not be forced by government to employ editors who hold beliefs contrary to their own – especially political or public policy beliefs. Owners of newspapers should be free to fire editors at will, unless they have entered into an employment contract to the contrary. For government to force a newspaper to continue to employ an editor is wrong and is bad public policy.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2014/07/23/newspaper-editor-fired-gaystapo/13047733/
A Supreme Court ruling today (6/30/2014) upheld our fundamental right to use our own private property in accordance with our own moral beliefs. The ruling gives priority to natural religious and private property rights over the politically created guarantee that private business owners will provide employees with a health insurance benefit that covers certain birth control pills.
The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to the Obama Care legal requirement that they provide their employees with an insurance benefit that covered morning after “abortion” pills. The law was in direct conflict with their sincerely held, honest and peaceful religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby has never used force or fraud to get people to either work for or patronize their business.
Governments are the only organizations that can legally use force against peaceful people. We created our government to use force, if necessary, to protect our fundamental right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Government force should not be used to make peaceful people act against their own religious beliefs – no matter how good the cause or the intentions.