Patricia Nell Warren

Why Punish Only the Mormon Church? Let's Get Them All

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | November 09, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: IRS, political activities by churches, Yes on 8

A movement is afoot to punish the Mormon Church by getting the IRS to strip them of their tax-exempt status. I agree 110 percent. But why stop at the Mormon Church? Let's see to it that all the "yes on 8" contributors are punished. A friend just sent me the complete list. See below, after the jump. The list is long, and astounding for its diversity -- Mormons, Catholics, Anglicans, Jews, Protestant evangelicals and Pentecostals, you name it. Both churches and nonprofits are on the list. Every single one of these names should be stripped of their tax-exempt status by the IRS. Ditto the contributors in Arizona and Florida, where similar marriage bans were passed.

I've also seen mention of a boycott-Utah movement aimed at punishing the Mormon Church. The organizers want to target the state's tourist business and Sundance Film Festival. But here too, only a small part of the problem is being attacked.

The Mormon Church has massive interests outside of Utah, notably California, so boycotting Utah isn't going to hurt it much. And why punish Sundance, which didn't attack same-sex marriage and has fostered so much liberal indie filmmaking, including LGBT-themed movies?

An AP story published today tells us that the California yes-on-8 contributors are taking their show on the road to other states. The AP says: "Conservative activists want to apply the same formula they used to outlaw same-sex marriage in California to prevent other states from recognizing gay unions and President-elect Barack Obama from expanding the rights of gays and lesbians. Leaders of the successful Proposition 8 campaign say an unusual coalition of evangelical Christians, Mormons and Roman Catholics built a majority at the polls Tuesday by harnessing the organizational muscle of churches to a mainstream message."

With this new church strategy going national, it's crucial to get at the ROOT of this problem nationally.

A More Effective Strategy


Thousands of churches breaking the law in every state is the equivalent of that many-headed monster called the hydra in Greek myth. Many people tried to kill the hydra by cutting off one head. But the monster always grew another head. Along came the hero Theseus, who had the bright idea. He killed the hydra's body, and the whole monster died. The Greek myth is a lesson in problem-solving, and we need to heed it by taking away the tax-exempt status that gives these churches and churchy nonprofits their political power.

Personally I have no objection to churches exercising free speech in politics. But I'm ready to puke when I see them doing it at taxpayer expense. They don't like it when their tax money is spent on abortion, stem-cell research and other things they don't approve of. Well, I don't like it when the government spends my tax money to enable church proselytizing...which is essentially what the feds do by foregoing the taxes that these bodies might have paid.

If churches and religious nonprofits want to enjoy the same political freedoms as individual taxpayers, they should pay for the privilege...like the rest of us do. When I make contributions, I have to pay my state and federal taxes off the top, then study what I have left to see what I can afford to contribute to a campaign.

Frankly the very idea of these big ultraconservative churches and religious nonprofits with their swollen bank accounts, and their arrogance, and their massive corporation-like ability to swing the vote because they don't have a tax bill, makes me very angry. They get rich the way railroad barons and mining barons got rich in the 19th century, when there was no income tax.

In fact, if churches were paying their way with the IRS, the income for government might shrink our national debt by half...maybe more. There would be more federal money to do all the things that the American people say they want done by electing Obama...like tax cuts, job programs, extending unemployment benefits, reforming education and healthcare, more diversity of energy, and a lot of other things.

The Problem With the IRS

Unfortunately, the battle to cut the hydra in half is complicated by the fact that we also have to battle the IRS to get the job done.

All these activist churches are flouting the law because they know the IRS will let them get away with it. In recent years, influenced by conservative administrations, the IRS has quietly gotten lax on applying its tax regulations to churches and nonprofits. Finally, in 2005, after a long legal fight with the Christian Coalition, the IRS allowed the CC to keep its tax-exempt status...even though the CC violates the law by distributing millions of voter guides every year. And wasn't the timing interesting? The IRS gave churches a green light on illegal activism just in time for the 2008 Presidential campaign.

So this quiet paradigm shift in federal policy on 501c3s and religion is a flagrant violation of the separation of church and state. By rights, the IRS should be taking action on not only the Christian Coalition but every other name on this list below...and every name on any other state list of religious tax-exempt campaign contributors during this 2008 Presidential election.

Historically, the United States has already fought this dreary battle around government support of religion. Back in our early history when certain states had state churches, they compelled every resident of the state to pay tithes to the state church, whether the resident belonged to that church or not. For instance, if you lived in Connecticut, you had to pay tithes to the Congregational Church, even if you were a Quaker or Catholic. Essentially, that tithe was a tax. That "favored nation" treatment for churches came to an end when separation of church and state was firmly established across the country.

But in recent years, especially during the Bush reign, the government's old habit of giving churches a break on the tax front has come creeping back. Now, during the economic crisis, taxpayers and businesses are expected to shoulder their tax burden -- but churches have no tax burden at all. Essentially, we're all covering for the churches, which means we're supporting them financially, when we don't necessarily believe their way. And that tax burden is one that ALL taxpayers carry, not just LGBT people. This just isn't right.

So if the IRS doesn't act, the agency is abdicating its job and handing the country over to the churches -- in the same way that the FDA has abdicated ITS job on enforcing safety-in-drugs policy, thus handing the country over to the big pharmaceutical companies who are willing to market unsafe drugs.

My point is -- we should be organizing a broad-based coalition of our own, that brings in non-LGBT organizations and activists with their own interest in seeing the IRS enforce the law. A lot of Americans voted for Obama because they didn't like the ultraconservative church smell around McCain. This battle doesn't just belong to us, and it isn't just about same-sex marriage. It belongs to all Americans.

And by the way, the list of contributors included quite a few California public officials. But I deleted their names because they don't have tax-exempt status with the IRS.

I am sick of these religious people sucking the life out of the country economically, and out of our freedoms ethically, by using this tax gambit. It's time for this to stop.

Complete list is available here


Churches & Ministries

A. V. Alpha & Omega Ministries, Palmdale
Abundant Life Assembly of God, Copeland
All Seasons Ministries, El Cajon
Alpha and Omega Arlington Apostolic Church, Riverside
Alpine Anglican Church, Alpine
Amador Family Fellowship
Baldwin Park Church of Christ
Bethel Christian Fellowship
Bible Fellowship Church, Ventura
Biggs Community Assembly of God
Bright Mission Chapel
Bundy Canyon Christian Church and School, Wildomar
Calvary Assembly of God
Calvary Assembly, Milpitas
Calvary Baptist Church
Calvary Baptist Church, Modesto
Calvary Chapel of the Harbour
Calvary Chapel Chino Hills
Calvary Chapel Rancho Santa Margarita
Calvary Christian Center
Calvary Church
Calvary Temple
Camarillo Community Church
Canopy of Prayer Ministries
Canyon View Church of Christ, San Diego
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
Centerpoint Church
Central Baptist Church of Indio
Centro Cristiano Pan De Vida
Chapel in the Pines, Arnold
Chinese Evangelical Free Church, Monterey Park
Chinese Grace Bible Church, Sacramento
Christ Driven Church of Fowler Ca.
Christian Life Assembly
Christian Life Center
Christian Life Tools
Christian Outreach for Armenians, Glendale
Church of Christ, Upland
Church of the Living Christ
Church of the Living God of Perris Church of the Nazarene
Church of the Rock
Church of Scientology of San Diego
Community Counseling Services, Inc.
Community Christian Alliance Church
Core Christian Fellowship, Murrieta
Cornerstone Baptist Church
Cornerstone Baptist Church, Nicholasville KY
Cornerstone Christian Church, El Dorado Hills
Cornerstone Community Church of San Clemente
Cornerstone Fellowship, Livermore
CrossPoint Community Church of the Nazarene
Dan Kricorian Ministries Int'l
Dayspring Christian Fellowship
Desert Stream Ministries
Destiny Faith Center
Divine Mercy Knights of Columbus (14158), Natomas
Door of Faith Ministries International
East Clairemont Baptist Church, San Diego
Eastside Christian Church
El Cajon Wesleyan Church, El Cajon
Elsinore Christian Center, Lake Elsinore
Evangelical Free Church of Walnut
Faith Chapel Church of God in Christ, San Diego
Faith Community Church by the Sea, Encinitas
Faith Tabernacle
Faith to Faith Fellowship, Temecula
F.C.F.Int'l Ministries
Filipino American Community Church
First Baptist Church Anaheim
First Baptist Church of Fillmore
First Baptist Church of Hesperia
First Baptist Church of Menlo Park
First Baptist Church of Taft
First Baptist Church, Lomita
First Evangelical Church of Cerritos
First Fil-Am Christian Church
First Foursquare Gospel Church of San Jose, San Jose
First Fundamental Bible Church of Monterey Park
First Presbyterian Church, Amarillo TX
First Southern Baptist, Yucca Valley
Fontana Foursquare Church
Foxworthy Baptist Church
Free Indeed Christian Fellowship, Perris
Freedom Community Christian Church, Perris
Freewill Missionary Baptist Church, San Diego
Freewill Missionary Baptist Church, San Diego
Friends Church, Yorba Linda
Friendship Christian Fellowship Church, Moreno Valley
Gem of the Valley Church, Murrieta
God's Word Church, Apple Valley
Golden Altar Ministries, San Jose
Golden Gate Christian Church
Hamilton Square Baptist Church
Harvest Christian Fellowship
Heart of the Canyons Church
High Desert Church, Victorville
Highland Springs Fellowship, Banning
Hillsdale Baptist Church, North Highlands
Hope Vineyard Church, Santa Clarita
House of Luke, Hemet
Independent Church of Lake Elsinore
Irvine First Chinese Baptist Church
Joy Ministry for Christ, Los Angeles
Jubilee Family Church, Oskaloosa IA
Kingdom Conditioning Ministries, INC.
Koinonia Evangelistic Center, Moreno Valley
Lake Murray Church, Assemblies of God
Life Center Church, Lakewood
Light by the Bay Church, San Lorenzo
Lighthouse Assembly of God, Murrieta
Lighthouse Community Church, Lathrop
Live Ride Christian Church
Living Faith Christian Fellowship, Garden Grove
Living Stones Ministries
Living Word Christian Church, San Diego
Love and Unity Church of God in Christ, Compton
Luke Four Eighteen Ministries International, Temecula
Maranatha Chapel
Maranatha Chapel, Rancho Bernardo
Menlo Park Community Church of God in Christ, Menlo Park
Meridian Southern Baptist, El Cajon
Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, San Diego
Mountain View Community Church, Temecula
Mount Zion Assemblies
Napoleon Washington, Jr. Evangelistic Assn.
Nations Harvest Church, Sunnyvale
New Birth Kingdom Covenant
New Covenant Ministries Christian Fellowship
New Day Church
New Destiny Christian Church, Inc.
New Life Presbyterian Church
New Light Church of God, Riverside
New Seasons Church
Newhall Church of the Nazarene
New Venture Christian Fellowship
Northside Christian Church
Oasis of Faith Christian Center
Oroville Nazarene Church
Our Lady of the Redwoods Catholic Church
Our Redeemer Lives Church, Lake Elsinore
Paradise Hills Southern Baptist Church
Progressive M.B.C.of Berkeley
Rancho Baptist Church, Temecula
Ray of Hope Church, Pomona
Redemption Christian Fellowship
Refuge Ministries
Resurrection Power Ministries
Revival Christian Fellowship, Menifee
Ripon Grace Brethren Church
Rose Drive Friends Church, Yorba Linda
Rubidoux First Assembly of God
San Antonio Heights Community Church, San Bernardino
San Diego Christian Worship Center, San Diego
San Jose Church of Christ, San Jose
San Jose Foursquare Church, San Jose
San Jose Open Bible Church, San Jose
San Jose Word of Faith Christian Center, San Jose
San Mateo Pro Life
Santa Rosa Diocesan Council of Catholic Women
Set Free Ministries of San Diego, San Diego
Seventh Day Sabbath Second Advent Church
Sierra Madre Congregational Church
Shepherd of the Hills
Skyline Wesleyan Church, El Cajon
Solid Ground Brethren in Christ Church, Alta Loma
Sonoma Valley Community Church
South Coast Christian Assembly
South Valley Christian Church, San Jose
Southwest Christian Church, Temecula
Southwest Community Church, Indian Wells
Spirit Life Worship Center
St.Andrew Orthodox Church
St.Joseph Church
St Timothy Orthodox Church
St.Mary Catholic Church
St.Patrick's Church
State College Blvd.Church of Christ, Anaheim
Survivors of Assault Recovery/Living Word Christian Church, San Diego
TEN27 Church
The Bridge Church
The Calvary Chapel Churches
The Church of God of Prophecy, National City
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
The Home Church, Campbell
The Oasis Foursquare Church
The Rock Church, San Diego
Trinity Baptist Church
Tyler Baptist Church, Riverside
Valley Christian Church, Chino
Victory International Church, San Mateo
Victory Outreach of Eagle Rock
Vineyard Family Christian Fellowship, Downey
Vista Hope Church of the Nazarene
Voices of Hope Ministries
Whittier Church of Christ, Whittier
Wildwood Calvary Chapel
Windsor Hills Baptist Church, La Mesa
Word of Life Ministries Int'l, Riverside
Word of Truth Ministries
World Overcomers Church International
Zion Christian Fellowship, Spring Valley
Zion Lutheran Church, North Highlands, CA

Organizations

Active Christian Media
Advocates for Faith and Freedom
Agudath Israel of California
Alliance Defense Fund, serving as Legal Counsel
American Family Association
American Veterans Christian Alliance
Americas Hope
Armineh Chelebian for State Assembly 40th AD
Association of Christian Schools International, Northern and Southern Districts of CA
Bakersfield Republican Assembly
Bethel Baptist Academy
Brethren in Christ Church Pacific Conference
California Catholic Conference of Bishops
California Catholic Women's Forum
California Family Alliance
California Family Council
Capitol Resource Institute
Catholics at Work
Catholics for Protectmarriage. com
Catholics for the Common Good
Celebration Center, Modesto, CA
Center for Reclaiming America
CFFC-LA
Christians OnDemand
Communities of Western Washington African American Healthy Marriage Initiative
Comunidad Cristiana Internacional Campus Los Angeles
Seasoned Sisters
Bill and Pam Farrel Marriage and Family Communicators
National Organization for Marriage
FHR
Christian Citizenship Council of San Diego
Christian Educators Association International
Christian Examiner Newspaper
Concerned Women for America
Confraternidad Hispaña Bautista de California (Hispanic Southern Baptist Fellowship)
Coral Ridge Ministries
Creation Research of North America
Creation Research of the North Coast
Dobbins/Oregon House Action Committee
Duncan Hunter for 52nd Congressional District
Eagle Forum of California
Eagle Forum of Sacramento
East County Refuge Center
El Camino Christian Fellowship
ElectionForum. org
Evidence for God from Science
Faith2Action
Faith 316
Family Leader Network
Family Research Council
Father Neil W.Seidl Council # 13672
Focus on the Family
Foursquare International
G51 Group
Golden State Association of Christian Schools
Government for the People
Holistic Integrated Services Foundation (HIS), Fullerton
Home Fellowship
Iglesia de la Colina - RCA
Ignite Youth/New Wine Church
Institute for Families and Taxpayers
Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc.
Kerigma Entertainment
Knights of Columbus Council #3052
Knights of Columbus Frances Cabrini Council #8879
Knights of Columbus St.Elizabeth Council #8747, Milpitas
Knights of Columbus St.Michael's of Marin Council #10530, Novato
Knights of Columbus Council #12887, Roseville
Knights of Columbus Council #11724, Sacramento
Knights of Columbus Orange County
Knights of Columbus San Jose
Knights of Columbus St.Raphael Council #1292, San Rafael
Koinonia Sports & Fitness Assoc.
La Familia Hispana
Legacy Law Foundation
Liberty Counsel
Life After Foster Care
Los Angeles Community Builders Inc
Lydia Gutierrez for State Senate
Marriage and Parenting Students of Christ (MAPS)
Meridian Magazine
Network of Politically Active Christians
North Coast Republican Club
One Heart Foundation
Organized Business Council
Orthodox Union
Pacific Justice Institute
Pastors Rapid Response Team (Pastors in Coalition with ProtectMarriage. com)
Preserve Liberty
Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund
Public Awareness Ministries
Rancho Bernardo Baptist Church
Rancho Del Rey Church
RelayFast08
Republican Party of Riverside County
Revive Indonesia
Sacramento District Church of the Nazarene
SanDiegoAnglicans. com
Sonoma County Republican Party
Southbay Crossing
St.Mary's Charismatic Prayer Group
The Center for Teaching the Constitution
The Holy Name Society
The Knights of Columbus, Council 1346, San Mateo, CA
The River Worship Center
The Rock of Roseville
The Western Center for Law & Policy
Traditional Family Coalition
Traditional Values Coalition
Trinity Life Solutions
NorthBay Neonatology Associates, Inc.
Families First Counseling Services
Ebmeyer Charter & Tour
Superior Organizing Services
Ventura County Christian Leadership Council
Come Let Us Reason
Environmental Geology Services
54th AD Republican Central Committee
United Families California
Values Advocacy Council
VOCAL Californians for the Preservation of Family & Marriage
Wycliffe Bible Translators, Temecula


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I agree. Separation between church and state was suppose to protect both sides and if one side can't keep their end of the bargain, why should they still retain their protections?

Patricia
You are so right. Ten years ago a complaint would have gotten action. The I.R.S. staff has been cut by a fifth in the last decade, even as Congress has made the tax code vastly more complex. Trials and investigations are costly, and the I.R.S. told a prominent Pasadena church not long ago that it has ended its lengthy investigation into a 2004 antiwar sermon, and they could keep their tax exemption. Also, I would say at present that the I.R.S. is largely homophobic due to Bush's appointments.
Church's could be challenged on discrimination of not hiring gay people, or in the case of the Southern Baptist Convention, not allowing us to enter the church.
Our biggest hope in this same sex marriage fight is that Obama will lead the repeal of DOMA.
The link is to Glenn Greenwald's opinion in Salon.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/11/06/doma/index.html

Thanks

Outstanding Particia!
And lets insist, and protest against any of the "Faith Based Initiative" monies going to the Churches, the counselling agencies, and if they run clinics, remove their medicaid/medicare provider numbers.

President Obama plans to increase the Faith Based monies, we whould raise the roof in protest if one cent of gay taxpayers monies goes to our enemies.

Reformed Ascetic | November 9, 2008 1:50 PM

Thanks Patricia. I hope everyone copies this list and doesn’t allow the issue to die.

Please allow me to begin responding by saying that there is another hidden effect of the policy decisions allowing the fundamentalists to enter the political arena.

I have been in many churches across the country and I have never, personally, seen a liberal church violating these rules although I have frequently seen conservative churches doing so. And as you might guess, I have spent much more time in liberal churches.

The first and most obvious reason for this is that liberals tend to value the separation between church and state. But the next reason is far more insidious.

Liberal churches not only know they will get investigated, they know that they will get turned in by their conservative church neighbors if they even appear to violate the law.

This silences one religious group in favor of another and allows the conservatives to control the religious language of the public.

I hear conservative pastors/preachers/priests all the time telling their congregants that the government is trying to impose its will and silence them. Telling their congregants that they are heroes for defying the government. When in fact they are liars. They know the rule is that they are free to choose between tax-exempt status or being politically active in the public sphere. That they were tax exempt status (and free speech limitations) as recompense for helping to foster the separation between church and state. Those religious leaders who choose to mislead their congregants are LIARS.

Evading the tax code, accepting government funds and accepting social advantages, all while purposefully violating the rules that put them in that position is stealing. And those religious leaders and congregations who choose to do so are THIEVES

And these churches have not only been allowed to lie and steal but encouraged to do so because it has been politically expedient for the GOP.

Their actions should not only be attacked legally and politically, it needs to carry the same religious labels they would put on others.

AGREE AGREE AGREE AGREE. The thoughtful, deliberate goal of separating political-action churches from their tax-exempt status is an excellent goal. Let's get to work!

In the meantime, I for one--as an old 60s Stonewall-era guy--would not at all mind seeing every Mormon Temple and Catholic church emblazoned with the legend "Get Your Tax-Exempt Bigotry Here!" Purple spray-paint would show up nicely.

I know, I know. Destruction or defacing property is not non-violent. I know. But you know what?

They've declared war on us. They need to know we realize who our enemies are, and that we intend to take action.

Touche'. Here here. Bravo.

You might want to check the rules for non-profits, issue-oriented campaigning is perfectly legal.

Reformed Ascetic | November 9, 2008 6:44 PM

But there are very strict rules, at least on paper, regarding what rules churches can play in elections.

Not only has the GOP been educating conservative religious institutions in how to bend and skirt the laws, they have been turning a blind eye when those laws were broken.

What's wrong with asking that the laws on the books be enforced?

Reformed Ascetic | November 9, 2008 6:45 PM

that should be *roles*

Here's an idea for Step One for California (and indeed, for ALL other states out there that allow citizen-initiated propositions):

- Ban all funding (and lobbying/proselytizing) from OUTSIDE THE STATE. This would cut the Utah haters (Mormons) and Colorado haters (FOTF) and all others of their ilk off at the knees.

Reformed Ascetic | November 9, 2008 6:54 PM

I understand the sentiment and at first blush I shared this sentiment.

There are some problems however:

1. The LGBT community commonly sends money around the country to support LGBT issues and candidates.

2. There is a long history in US law equating monetary donations with free speech.

3. I am guessing that there would be any number of ways to evade the law. For instance, if a law like this had been passed prior to Prop 8, all the funds that were donated by Mormons around the country could have been funneled to one in-state temple or even one individual to then donate. I'm sure better legal minds could devise much better strategies than this.

This type of approach can work for churches & c3 organizations if they advocated partisan or election issues. But not for ballot initiatives, which don't elect people to office or advocate a party.

Otherwise - you can expect the same to happen to our groups that advocate for our equality. The voter guides should only be allowed by c4's. Sadly - some groups (Focus on the Family?) are c4's. Like Stonewall Dems. The Task Force can't be involved in elections - but can in these ballot initiatives. The Task Force Action Fund can do electoral work.

Point well taken, Kathy. But I still think we have to work to minimize any damage that can be done to us via this route. And if any LGBT groups are breaking the law to do what they're doing...well, they shouldn't do that.

William D. Lindsey William D. Lindsey | November 9, 2008 4:45 PM

Patricia, I've been thinking along the same lines. There has to be a way to hold religious groups accountable when they crossed the line in this election process. I think that the breach of church-state separation was more blatant in this election than any I remember. And I think it was designed to be deliberate for the reason you suggest: to create a hydra monster that seems impossible to combat (but isn't).

Your link to the Intolerant Faith blog is very helpful to me and I think will be for many of us trying to track the church-state breaches in this election--to challenge them.

One thing that might be worth noting about the list at Intolerantfaith blog: if you look at the group labeled "Organizations," and start tracking their funding and affiliations, you often find that they are 1) political 501(c)3 groups masquerading as faith groups, and 2) funded by and affiliated to much larger players in the Republican party.

To take one case (and not to isolate one group, but to illustrate how this hidden influence, hidden manipulation thing works). Look at the group called Communities of Western Washington African American Healthy Marriage Initiative.

A faith group, right? A 501(c)3 nonprofit that exists only to build healthy families, as its website maintains?

Well, not so fast. Start digging, and you find quickly that its founder and head Terome Fulmore was a big player this March in a "Strengthening the Family Summit" sponsored by none other than the Department of Human Service's Administration for Children and Families.

In other words, he has benefited from our tax dollars funneled through the federal government to "strengthen families," and at the same time he turns around and helps fund the fight for proposition 8.

There is a clear mix of church-state funding in groups like this, and it's troubling. These are the bitter fruits we're now reaping from Bush's Faith-Based programs, which were set up to throw a few bones in the direction of struggling churches and social services programs in minority communities, with the hope that these churches and communities would pay back by pursuing Republican goals.

All the groups on the list need to be examined very carefully for these kinds of hidden ties, which often leads back to the real malefactors, the big-money donors and big-money groups manipulating smaller groups by funneling money to them to buy political influence.

And then, once we research and find the connections, we start acting, challenging on a case-by-case basis, getting media exposure for the breach of church-state lines in each case, and above all, as you say, leaning hard and persistently on the IRS to crack down on the assault on separation of church and state.

William D. Lindsey William D. Lindsey | November 9, 2008 6:13 PM

Quick addendum: and to understand some of the BIG players in these organizations, look at a group like Advocates for Faith and Freedom.

Google that group and Robert H. Tyler, and watch the tangle of trails that open up, organization linking to organization, including "secular" and "religious" ones.

In the case of each group like this, we need to be forming proactive watchdog groups following every money trail we can find, every affiliation we can find, etc. And as we do so, trying to obtain as much media assistance and coverage as possible, and where the media refuses to to assist, then using websites to expose the information.

Follow some of the big-name groups, and you'll begin uncovering some of the largest hidden donors and the channels through which they donate, often in ways not exposed to public scrutiny.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 9, 2008 6:22 PM

I am in que to get a shower at our hotel before we begin our day tour of Hanoi. I must be brief, but tell you I have felt this way since I learned that the Roaman Catholic Church was a huge owner of slum properties which they were also including in their "tax free" status.

Out of the park Particia!

Hi Robert
Wish you well on your travels and envy your visit to Angkor Wat. One of the few great places on earth I haven't visited.
Cheers
Charles

Outstanding Patricia!

I have a feeling that this whole mess is going to come back to haunt 'them' as we fight for our right to exist. We must remain diligent and united.

We need to take our legal fight to the I.R.S. under a new administration and go after 'all of them'.

We must unite and fight!

We need to remind our lawmakers of the separation of church and state. They either stay out of politics or they start paying taxes.

That is how we win!

It is interesting to note that the black community, who knows first hand about discrimination, helped to discriminate against us.

Regardless of their religious beliefs, they should have voted 'NO' on prop 8 for the sheer fact it is discrimination.

This too will come back to haunt them, as it should!

There are more ANTI-gay churches than not, and they have tax-exempt status. So herein lies the sickness -

ALL of those who work against our rights are tax exempt.

ALL of us without civil rights are taxed unfairly.

To quote those youngins out there, "WTF?".

I agree, though I think the reason the Mormons are being most strongly targeted is because they were on the front line of the campaign. They donated the most money and they put their religious stamp (either "Mormon" or "LDS" on nearly everything they said and did. I saw plenty of people who merely said " the Bible says" or "my religious beliefs are". But the Mormons, whether on their personal blogs or elsewhere, tended to label themselves as Mormons. Perhaps they imagined they'd be considered heroes by the RRRW for knocking the homos down, without thinking about the backlash from us and our supporters...

Even before this thing passed my wife and I were talking about getting the tax-exempt status of various groups revoked for misuse of funds. (She has a very comprehensive list of the downright incestuous connections between all of the RRRW players, BTW.) FOTF, CWA, Knights of Columbus, etc. It's simply wrong to use funds designated for charity or religious use as a political tool. If they want to play in politics they need to pay, just as we all do. I'm sick to death of them being allowed to use their religion both as a weapon against us and as a shield for themselves against question, criticism, investigation or taxes. No more!

Buffy -- your point about the Mormons being the biggest spenders is well taken. But it's important to put a damper on the smaller spenders too. One hundred small churches and organizations that each contribute $10,000 still adds up to $1 million, which is a lot of money. This is why I think we should target them all.

Looks like the ProtectMarriage.com people broke their own site and internal linking system trying to remove their list of endorsers from their website.
The IRS is pretty clear about this stuff too, as you mention...
Section 501(c)(3) describes corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literacy, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in section (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

So what can we do to fight these organizations and the IRS? What are the next steps?

how to report the Mormon Church to the IRS
Posted by asocialstudies under Uncategorized | Tags: lds, latter day, latter day saints, church of latter day saints, mormon, mormons, mormon church, church of mormon, gay marriage, marriage, prop8, proposition 8, prop 8, california, church and state, separation of church and state, church state separation |

quick and easy instructions:

via: http://keepfightingprop8.ning.com/profiles/blogs/revoke-the-mormon-churchs-tax

If you’re angry that a church can meddle with another state’s political statutes, here’s something that you can do.

To report the LDS Church to the IRS, simply take 5 minutes to print these articles out and any others you can find:

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_10839546

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_10842051

Then print and fill out http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3949a.pdf

List the taxpayer as:

Thomas S. Monson, et al
50 East North Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

List his occupation as President and the business as the ridiculously full name of the church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) at the same address.

Check the boxes for False Exemption and Public/Political Corruption.

Then in the Comments section demand that the LDS Church be fined and their tax-exempt status revoked for repeated and blatant violations of the IRS’s separation of church and state rules, and for conspiring to interfere with a state’s political process.

Check Yes under “Are books/records available?” and write in “campaign finance records.”

You don’t have to provide any of your own personal info.

Mail the form and the printed articles to:

Internal Revenue Service
Fresno, CA 93888

That’s it. Done. Poll’s closed. Book it.


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I doubt anything happens. No one wants to mobilize these voters when secular people, on the other hand, probably would never give the Obama administration or Congress or whoever does it credit.

It's frustrating, though, that there would be people who would effectively buy votes with something like this, and the other side would be too afraid to stop their vote buying.

It's a shame you went to all of this work, but as others pointed out here, all 501(c)(3) organizations are allowed to engage in some lobbying, particularly where it helps further their charitable purpose. (I am an attorney and teach nonprofit law classes, so I have some expertise in this area.)

Indeed, if your basic premise was correct, the IRS would also be forced to revoke the tax exemption from the many nonprofits who spent tax-exempt dollars to oppose Proposition 8. I hardly think that is an outcome you would want.

You also might be interested to know that the LDS church's total contribution to the ballot measure was just over $2,000 to cover travel expenses related to the Yes on 8 campaign. The individual church members contributed the substantial sums garnering so much attention.

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_10842051

I finally want to add that it is troubling that you use words like "dampen" to describe your purpose here. It sounds too much like you basically want to silence those who disagree with you. Ultimately, as you argue, civil rights (including free speech) should be available to all, not just those that agree with you.

I didn't use the word "dampen." Nor am I interested in silencing anybody. In fact, the very idea of silencing these big churches with all their money and access to the conservative media is an oxymoron.

Since you're a lawyer, you know that there are always lawyers on both sides, so there will be lawyers that will disagree with you. My starting point for this train of thought was the 2005 IRS decision on the Christian Coalition, which followed several years of litigation and reveals that there WAS an issue about what the CC was doing. I think it was a terrible decision, one that the IRS ought to reverse.

If you follow the link I provided in the IRS section, you'll come to a lawyer page where lawyers discuss the possible broad impact of this IRS decision on church activism. I may not be a lawyer, but I agree that this decision has now had a major effect. Technically, as you say, the regulations may allow for a certain amount of lobbying -- but with all due respect for your law degree and experience, I personally think that things are now totally out of control.

Especially since the Prop. 8 coalition plan to take their show on the road to other states, and will use this IRS-sanctioned MO to push other issues besides same-sex marriage.

Can I just say, I am amazed at your comments?

"Punish" churches?

Are you going to single out race/age/gender to attack as well?

There are lots of organizations out there that are not-for-profit, that have their own beliefs as far as morals. Our hospital systems teach against drugs and smoking. Are you going to boycott the hospitals?

I live in the Midwest, and fortunately the traditional concept of marriage out here is the same as it was a hundred years ago. Churches are not "punished" here for teaching morals.

I pray that somehow you will find peace, and quit your attacks. Truly, if you attack one church, you will go after us all.

Are you going to paint and burn our churches in the Midwestern United States as well?

Hospitals too?

God bless you--and God help you.

Patricia, you are certainly on the right track. At the risk of being hog-tied and burned at the stake, I would take it a lot further. SHUT THEM DOWN! It is my opinion that organized religion is the bane of humankind. For millennia, the ‘church’ has used deities of its own design and in various forms, not to enlighten the world, but to control it. Control of people brings power and, often, wealth to those who have control. With power and wealth, control becomes easier and easier as time goes on. It’s easy to see that the fear of (a) God is a very powerful tool, carefully crafted by those who seek to control.

While I hold no belief in any religion, I was ‘born into’ a ‘Christian’ family. Christianity, a faith supposedly founded in the roots of Christ’s teachings of love and peace:

John 13:34-35 (King James Version)
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Of course, Christ was not speaking of physical love, but of familial, brotherly, sisterly love. The kind of love that is all-encompassing; love of friends, family and even so-called ‘enemies’. Yet it wasn’t too many centuries ago that even the Christian faith and its sub-divisions waged war on those who did not believe as they did. Of course, they disguised the ‘war’ part under the nom du voyage “Crusade”. But the end result was the same as war. “Believe as we do or off with your heads!”

With the separation of Church and State, things mellowed within the church, but the State certainly picked up where it’s former partner in crime left off. Now, as we have seen over several decades, the monster is slowly rising again. (I love your Medusa analogy, by the way.) The conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland; the on-going, never-ending strife in the middle east; the acts of mayhem and terrorism around the world; and of course the new breed you spoke of who would use violence to see their so-called ‘gods’ fully served and satisfied by sacrificial bloodshed.

If the tables were turned, the ‘church’ would argue that their Constitutional Right to autonomy was being usurped. An ode, perhaps, to the hypocrisy of organized religion. Just imagine the hew and cry of the power-hungry individuals and organizations if they were faced with the same finagling to disrupt them as they have wrought on others for centuries.

Shutting them down may be impossible…but a good effort to attempt it, may shut them up! It may be strong, but that's how I feel it.

Sadly, none of you know what you are talking about. The IRS prohibition is against supporting or opposing a candidate (or party) for elective office. 501 c 3 non-profits, which include churches, are absolutely permitted to lobby or campaign for legislation, so long as it is an insubstantial part of their overall activities. CHurches have always commented on legislation that impacts their moral or faith beliefs. The entire civil rights movement (which was heavily associated with churches) is one of many examples.

Please check your facts before spouting half-informed generalisms.

Sadly, you seem to be among those who are oblivious to a worrisome trend. Churches have not "always" waded as deeply into the political process as today -- not even during the black civil-rights era. The present trend started in the late 1970s, and has marched steadily forward gaining momentum till today. The naked muscle that the religious right showed with Prop. 8 is going to be shown on other issues as well.

I suggest that you do your homework on the Council for National Policy, the New Apostolic Reformation and dozens of other rightist groups who state openly that they intend to establish the "Christian" version of a sharia government. The IRS took away the Moral Majority's tax-exempt status, after many years of apparently hesitating, and now they seem to have flipflopped with the Christian Coalition, though clearly there was an issue that consumed five years of IRS investigation.

If the present trend isn't halted, certain churches will be running the country instead of merely "speaking out," and I am one of those Americans who object to the very idea.