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Author Topic: Liberal Fascism in Houston  (Read 478 times)
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ATB
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« on: October 15, 2014, 05:36:26 AM »

Very interested in Fireball's take on this. I think he's in Houston? Or maybe it was Austin?

Quote
The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

So liberal leadership has now:
1. implemented drone strikes on us citizens without trial
2. established the most widespread violation of privacy the world has ever seen via the NSA
3. leveraged the US revenue service to combat those who disagree with them
4. suppressed the freedoms of speech and religion



« Last Edit: October 15, 2014, 05:47:10 AM by ATB » Logged
Scraper
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2014, 01:02:36 PM »

Quote from: ATB on October 15, 2014, 05:36:26 AM

Very interested in Fireball's take on this. I think he's in Houston? Or maybe it was Austin?

Quote
The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

So liberal leadership has now:
1. implemented drone strikes on us citizens without trial
2. established the most widespread violation of privacy the world has ever seen via the NSA
3. leveraged the US revenue service to combat those who disagree with them
4. suppressed the freedoms of speech and religion





1. I don't see what the items on your list have to do with the Houston story.
2. It's ridiculous to blame the items on your list solely on liberals.
3. It almost seems like there has to be more to the Houston story than what that article is reporting, because if it is as the article says I don't see how the city thinks they are going to come out ahead on this one.
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Fireball
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2014, 06:18:15 PM »

We give churches tax exempt status under laws that govern charities. However, that comes with strings attached. The churches in question have been reported as engaging in direct political activity in sermons and church-paid-for communications, which violates the law -- laws the churches agreed to follow when becoming tax exempt charities.

It is fine for a pastor in the pulpit to say "being gay is a sin." It is not fine for him to say "being gay is wrong, so vote against Annise Parker," or "being gay is wrong, so vote against anyone who supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance."

That's the law.

It is the responsibility of those governments granting tax exempt status to investigate when claims are made that such status is being abused.

So, what is your position:

1) That churches shouldn't be tax exempt?

or

2) That governments shouldn't be empowered to investigate when laws are reportedly being broken?
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Scraper
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2014, 06:33:11 PM »

Quote from: Fireball on October 15, 2014, 06:18:15 PM

We give churches tax exempt status under laws that govern charities. However, that comes with strings attached. The churches in question have been reported as engaging in direct political activity in sermons and church-paid-for communications, which violates the law -- laws the churches agreed to follow when becoming tax exempt charities.

It is fine for a pastor in the pulpit to say "being gay is a sin." It is not fine for him to say "being gay is wrong, so vote against Annise Parker," or "being gay is wrong, so vote against anyone who supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance."

That's the law.

It is the responsibility of those governments granting tax exempt status to investigate when claims are made that such status is being abused.

So, what is your position:

1) That churches shouldn't be tax exempt?

or

2) That governments shouldn't be empowered to investigate when laws are reportedly being broken?

I always love it when conservative friends show me their Church's voting guide. The way the issues are presented is so completely biased and they are always followed by yes or no check mark next to the candidates. They might as well go ahead and circle the candidate they want you to vote for. They pare issues down to things like "Believes abortion is the same thing as killing a baby" then the guide puts a yes check mark next to their preferred candidate. The best part is those same friends honestly believe the guide is unbiased.  Head meets wall

We all know most churches have a political bias, my problem with Fireball's explanation is that it's a very slippery slope to just blindly start subpoenaing sermons. And is it even the cities' job to enforce the tax code? No, it's the IRS's job, did the IRS issue the subpoenas. No. The City did and only after those churches spoke out against the city leaders.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2014, 06:37:21 PM by Scraper » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2014, 06:41:16 PM »

I should add that I realize the city has it's own taxing authority, but when was the last time you heard of a City challenges a religious institutions tax exempt status without a pre-existing federal or state challenge?

Also, I still think there is more to this story than what that biased op-ed presented, so I'm open to changing my opinion once more is learned.
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2014, 07:04:43 PM »

Who's to say that the IRS hasn't received a complaint but is yet to act?

These churches also aren't just the local church down the street that's been subject to a blanket set of complaints. These aren't blind demands for sermons. These churches were leading the effort to combat the Equal Rights Ordinance. Churches put their tax exempt status at risk when they become publicly involved in electoral politics, the same as any charity does.

It's one thing for members of the clergy to be at rallies or speak as individuals. It's something altogether different to use the pulpit or church-paid communications to push a specific political agenda.

No one has a first amendment right to tax-exempt status.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2014, 07:09:32 PM by Fireball » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2014, 01:33:38 AM »

Yeah, I saw this same group of articles pop in my feeds, and Fireball's statements echo my first thoughts.

It's okay to be a bit shocked at first at the idea. However, you should be more concerned that your religion, church, and your beliefs are being used as a political platform.

These rules were put in place to help keep the distance between church and state.
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hepcat
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2014, 07:25:54 PM »

I love how ATB tries to mask his personal prejudices as sincere curiosity.  It's like a racist asking someone why Asians are such horrible drivers.
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2014, 07:31:32 PM »

Quote from: Turtle on October 16, 2014, 01:33:38 AM

Yeah, I saw this same group of articles pop in my feeds, and Fireball's statements echo my first thoughts.

It's okay to be a bit shocked at first at the idea. However, you should be more concerned that your religion, church, and your beliefs are being used as a political platform.

These rules were put in place to help keep the distance between church and state.

What rules. There is no rule justifying this and that is why it was withdrawn. It would have never survived scrutiny.

If this were legal don't you think they would be cracking down on all the inflammatory political speech that takes place in your average mosque? Investigators and prosecutors have been beaten down numerous times when they have tried to take action against hateful political speech in mosques and have lost in every case they couldn't connect it to an actual specific crime. While keeping the church out of running the state is a noble cause trying to remove politics from religious organizations is a futile endeavor.
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2014, 07:43:36 PM »

How much inflammatory political speech actually happens in your average mosque? Do you know? I don't, although I have muslin friends and generally she said most discussion was community related. Of course, she could have been a jihadist. Tongue

It's good that they investigated mosques where there were allegations of political speech. And it's a good thing that when investigations turned up nothing, or not enough evidence, that the investigations were stopped. Why do you assume that there's always something to be found?

Likewise, it's a good thing that proper investigation is being done on this as well. It just so happens that it's happening to a Christian church instead of a mosque. And if nothing comes up, then the investigation will stop as well. How many times do you think mosques have gotten subpoenas just like this one?

It's not futile to attempt to keep politics and religion separate. It's a constant, ongoing process and should be kept ongoing. We're deliberately trying to avoid a theocracy for a reason. That's to avoid any kind of extremism taking over politics. You want to talk about facism? It was just one form of extremism, and letting a government be taken over by any one religion can definitely lead to the same kinds of extremism.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2014, 07:46:42 PM by Turtle » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2014, 09:42:26 PM »

Quote
In his letter to the city attorney, Abbott said, “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment. The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”

Quote
I recognize that the subpoenas arise from litigation related to a petition to repeal an ordinance adopted by the city council. But the litigation discovery process is not a license for government officials to inquire into religious affairs. Nor is your office’s desire to vigorously support the ordinance any excuse for these subpoenas. No matter what public policy is at stake, government officials must exercise the utmost care when our work touches on religious matters. If we err, it must be on the side of preserving the autonomy of religious institutions and the liberty of religious believers. Your aggressive and invasive subpoenas show no regard for the very serious First Amendment considerations at stake.

Quote
I urge you to demonstrate the City’s commitment to religious liberty and to true diversity of belief by unilaterally withdrawing these subpoenas immediately. Your stated intention to wait for further court proceedings falls woefully short of the urgent action needed to reassure the people of Houston that their government respects their freedom of religion and does not punish those who oppose city policies on religious grounds.

http://www.wilsoncountynews.com/article.php?id=61828&n=national-news-ag-asks-houston-city-attorney-withdraw-subpoenas-seeking-sermons-pastors
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2014, 02:44:57 PM »

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The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”

If there was ever a chance that I would hate voted for Abbott, this statement would put the nail in that coffin.  So if they want to engage in blatant political maneuvering, snake handling, polygamy, or child marriage, their religious freedom should keep them sacrosanct from government oversight?  Bullshit.
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2014, 05:19:25 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on October 17, 2014, 02:44:57 PM

Quote
The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”

If there was ever a chance that I would hate voted for Abbott, this statement would put the nail in that coffin.  So if they want to engage in blatant political maneuvering, snake handling, polygamy, or child marriage, their religious freedom should keep them sacrosanct from government oversight?  Bullshit.

What one engages in and what one says are two different things. One of them is protected by this thing called the 1st amendment.
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2014, 06:46:25 PM »

Quote from: Rip on October 18, 2014, 05:19:25 PM

Quote from: Isgrimnur on October 17, 2014, 02:44:57 PM

Quote
The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”

If there was ever a chance that I would hate voted for Abbott, this statement would put the nail in that coffin.  So if they want to engage in blatant political maneuvering, snake handling, polygamy, or child marriage, their religious freedom should keep them sacrosanct from government oversight?  Bullshit.

What one engages in and what one says are two different things. One of them is protected by this thing called the 1st amendment.

You're correct, the church has every right to say whatever they please from the pulpit.  The government also has every right to ensure that what they say is in compliance with the guidelines of non-political speech that provides them the significant tax-exempt advantages they enjoy.  If those regulations are violated, then the church should have no problem paying their taxes.
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2014, 05:38:13 AM »

Quote from: Gratch on October 18, 2014, 06:46:25 PM

Quote from: Rip on October 18, 2014, 05:19:25 PM

Quote from: Isgrimnur on October 17, 2014, 02:44:57 PM

Quote
The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”

If there was ever a chance that I would hate voted for Abbott, this statement would put the nail in that coffin.  So if they want to engage in blatant political maneuvering, snake handling, polygamy, or child marriage, their religious freedom should keep them sacrosanct from government oversight?  Bullshit.

What one engages in and what one says are two different things. One of them is protected by this thing called the 1st amendment.

You're correct, the church has every right to say whatever they please from the pulpit.  The government also has every right to ensure that what they say is in compliance with the guidelines of non-political speech that provides them the significant tax-exempt advantages they enjoy.  If those regulations are violated, then the church should have no problem paying their taxes.

I am sure there is no problem with that and if the IRS feels they have violated it I am sure they will investigate. The city of Houston however has no business in it.

In essence unless they were campaigning for a specific candidate they have a great deal of leeway.

Quote
Currently, the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one "which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

The IRS has published Revenue Ruling 2007-41, which outlines how churches, and all 501(c)(3) organizations, can stay within the law regarding the ban on political activity. Also, the ban by Congress is on political campaign activity regarding a candidate; churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations can engage in a limited amount of lobbying (including ballot measures) and advocate for or against issues that are in the political arena. The IRS also has provided guidance regarding the difference between advocating for a candidate and advocating for legislation. See political and lobbying activities.

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Charities,-Churches-and-Politics

They are allowed to advocate for or against issues. Just not for or against specific people. In any event if they have violated the federal tax law that is for the IRS to look into not some politician with an agenda.
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« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2014, 12:54:04 PM »

Of course, when the IRS DOES look into it, you cry foul and scream that they're being unfairly targeted.  No one wins unless they believe the same thing as you.  Of course, to be fair, that can be applied to almost everyone.
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« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2014, 04:59:08 PM »

Quote from: hepcat on October 19, 2014, 12:54:04 PM

Of course, when the IRS DOES look into it, you cry foul and scream that they're being unfairly targeted.  No one wins unless they believe the same thing as you.  Of course, to be fair, that can be applied to almost everyone.

I would have no major issue with it, although if they do they should also look at all 501c3s that that were involved for the opposite political position. I would be willing to bet there were a number of c3s with some level of involvement on both sides. It really comes down to were they involved support or combat an issue or a specific candidate. I feel pretty confident the churches were far more interested in the issue being fought over by the candidates and had little interest in who the specific candidates were. Churches typicall don't care so much about people, they are an issue focused industry.
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