Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Taxing Situation

It hardly seems fair to us that churches and temples have tax-free status while the rest of us are burning the midnight oil during tax season poring over crumpled up receipts and trying to figure out how to use TurboTax. Anyway, in the spirit of the upcoming season, read on.

1. Thirty-one clergy members representing a variety of Christian and Jewish denominations have recently sent a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service requesting an investigation of two large churches in Ohio — the Columbus-area Fairfield Christian Church and the World Harvest Church — that they say are:

A) Running illegal telemarketing businesses selling diet drinks out of their meeting halls.
B) Raising money for a Christian homeless shelter by selling beer brewed in one of the church’s kitchens, but pocketing the proceeds.
C) Campaigning on behalf of a conservative Republican running for governor.

2. Okay, we’ll give you that one. In their complaint, the clergy members contend that the Fairfield Christian Church and the World Harvest Church, which were widely credited with getting out the Ohio vote for President Bush in 2004, have allowed their facilities to be used by Republican organizations, promoted the Republican candidate for governor J. Kenneth Blackwell, and otherwise violated prohibitions on political activity by tax-exempt groups.

The complaint questions, for example, how the Ohio Restoration Project, a nonprofit organization led by Mr. Johnson, Fairfield’s leader, obtained charitable status when among its stated purposes are to support and promote legislation. The group has said its goal is to create:

A) An army of “Patriot Pastors” to help increase the participation of church members in this year’s statewide elections.
B) A round-the-clock prayer group whose sole purpose is to pray that Democrats have a change of heart and become Republicans.
C) A television channel devoted to using Scripture to defend the Republican stance on issues in the hopes of influencing local elections.

3. Both churches denied that any of their activities violated limitations on nonprofit political activity. “We endorse values, but not candidates,” said the Rev. Russell Johnson, Fairfield’s leader. Rev. Johnson said Mr. Blackwell had been featured at events because he was the only candidate who had spoken out strongly in favor of:

A) A small increase in state sales tax that would go to support job training programs and daycare for the poor and indigent.
B) An amendment to the State Constitution banning same-sex marriage that passed last fall.
C) The Iraq War.


1. C. Rabbi Harold J. Berman said he signed the complaint because he was concerned that the line between church and state was becoming blurred. “I think government is clearly impaired when churches get too actively involved in government,” he said, “and I think religion gets impaired when government acts in religious affairs.”
2. A. Reformation Ohio’s goal is to win 100,000 converts, register 40,000 new voters and help the poor.
3). B. Why is it that gay rights always get conservatives’ panties in a knot?


At 11:11 PM, Blogger answer-man said...

ps I'm having a little trouble sending comments so if I do it twice please excuse me and I apologize.

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