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photo by Sheri Dixon

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pulpit Freedom- They'd Better All Be Wearing Their "Freedom is not Free" T-shirts

Today's the day.

The day we COULD, if our government had any balls at all, completely eradicate our deficit along with any future deficits.

Not an R or a D 'thing'; this is basic, easy and pretty much cut and dried.

Why today?

Lookie here-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pvwcfjAF5Pw#!

See? We have a mess of people employed by the IRS- pay them half a day of overtime (and buy 'em lunch afterwards for their having to sit through a sermon) and get it on record and recorded when the minister starts preaching politics from the pulpit.

At the end of the service, stand in line with the rest of the congregants, shake the minister's hand, politely say, "Great sermon, Pastor!" and hand 'em their tax form to fill out.

Deficit = Gone

"OH, NO- YOU CAN'T DO THAT- THEY ARE PROTECTED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT- FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!"

Well, absolutely- says so right here-

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

The ministers have every right to stand up in their pulpit, preach values and tell their flock how to vote.

But not tax-free.

See?

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

It's like the whole "Nativity on the courthouse lawn" thing- NO ONE is saying a Nativity cannot be set up outside in front of god and everyone. They look fabulous on the lawn of the church, darling in people's front yards, even adorning the entryways of privately-owned businesses.

Just not on the PUBLICLY-OWNED courthouse, because not everyone shares the Christian Faith (even here in the shiny buckle of the bible belt). This past Christmas in nearby Athens it was requested that the huge cardboard Nativity scene not be on the courthouse lawn and a literal shit-storm ensued.

There are FOUR churches within baby-in-swaddling-cloths-swinging distance of the courthouse. Seriously.

Did the churches say, "Wow- we never thought of that- here- lets ALL put up an even bigger Nativity scene in front of ALL the churches- The Good News X FOUR!!!"

No.

Some folks suggested that ALL the religions have equal time- one on each side of the courthouse square- Christian, Jewish, Kwanza and Islam, but of course they were quickly shut down by the Christians, who claimed the, "because it's ALWAYS been this way" argument. I love that one- that means we should also still own slaves, not allow women to vote and all die of childhood diseases before we reach maturity.

Yay!

But even the "let everyone have equal space on the square" idea was so not the fucking point- it would ALL have been wrong.

The Christian churches RALLIED on the COURTHOUSE STEPS in defense of their Nativity scene- with bullhorns and all- preaching loud and proud and effectively cowing everyone with their loving-god righteousness into heathen submission.

That. Was. Bullshit.

You see, here in America, everyone does have the freedom to say whatever they feel like- within reason. Because we're supposedly a Polite and Civilized Society and you DO need rules to be sure everyone is treated fairly. If you just have a large and overwhelmingly pushy majority *cough* Christians *cough* who insist everyone bend to their will or be accused of 'persecution'- you no longer have freedom of religion- you have a theocracy.

The same people who thump everyone upside the head with a bible also love to wave around the Constitution and talk about the Founding Fathers like they're personally related to them.

What did our Founding Fathers have to say about the whole church/state thing?

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by [Religious] Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in history." – James Madison

Wow. Pretty harsh, James. "Encroachment" is a strong word. That would be like, if politicians were to get up and say right out loud they consider the bible before the constitution in all their political decisions. And that would NEVER happen.

Except it does. All the damn time.

"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man." – Thomas Jefferson

Thomas? You been smoking yer hemp again? How could it possibly be a bad thing for men of Faith to steer our country? Unless their mission (pun intended) is to force BY LAW all of our citizens to bend to their own world views?

"Religious controversies always produce more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society." – George Washington


Ya, George. I was kinda hoping for that myself. Guess it's too soon...another 200 years, maybe?

"The question before the human race is, whether the God of Nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?" – John Adams


God of Nature? What do you mean, John? Like those crazy climate-change scientists? Guess you've been hittin' the stash with Thomas.

OK OK OK- all those quotes are good ones, and fodder for thinkin', but where do they say ONE WORD about churches being tax-free (or not)???

Huh? Show me ONE thing that says it's okie dokie for churches to be able to preach politics from the pulpit AND be tax-exempt.

Just because it's in the Tax Code doesn't mean the Founding Fathers had anything to say about churches being taxed.

Gotcha.

Wait. What?

Ben Franklin? I thought he was in France, cozying up to those commie strumpets. What's HE doing back here? No matter- I'm sure he's got nothin' that will be applicable here.

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." – Benjamin Franklin


Here's your tax form- have a Blessed Day.












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