This is an editorial in the Washington Post.
Whether you are liberal or conservative — this should be of concern to you. If you are a Republican and supporter of President Trump, set aside your distaste of the liberal media and absorb the information contained within this editorial. It is important. It is not fake news.
From a purely tunnel-vision perspective, I do not want scientology gaining the ability to influence and buy politicians like they can buy lawyers and private investigators. The possibility of removing existing restrictions on politicking by religious organizations makes it even more imperative for the IRS to withdraw scientology’s exempt status.
But on a broader view, as a citizen, I find the idea of hidden political contributions to be disturbing and wrong. It’s a scary concept that someone could donate tax deductible money to a religious institution and because of non-existent reporting requirements for religious institutions it is untraceable. We already have massive political contributions and lobbying influencing public policy. Let’s not make it worse by making it even more opaque and rewarding political contributions with subsidies by giving them the benefit of tax deductability.
And if you don’t agree with my views, remember the US Constitution and the idea that this country was founded on a principle of separation of church and state. That alone should preclude this from even being considered.
Contact your representative and tell them you do not want this rollback of the Johnson Amendment provision to be part of any tax bill — whether you agree or disagree with other elements of it.
MONEYBALL POLITICS took a great leap forward when the Supreme Court opened the door to campaign contributions from corporations and unions in the 2010 case Citizens United v. FEC. Now the Republican-controlled House has passed a tax bill that, should it become law, would unleash another tidal wave of change. It would permit churches, charities and foundations to engage in candidate-specific politicking and enable donors to reap tax breaks for political contributions for the first time. Congress ought not allow this to happen.
The 1954 Johnson Amendment, named for LBJ, prohibits tax-exempt churches, charities and foundations under Section 501(c)3 of the tax code from endorsing candidates. The amendment has long been a target of evangelical Christian groups who yearn to amplify their conservative voice in campaigns, and President Trump promised in February at the National Prayer Breakfast to “get rid of and totally destroy” it. A provision tacked on to the tax bill by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) would effectively roll back the Johnson Amendment, saying that such groups can keep their tax status if they engage in electioneering. The new language offers only vague stipulations that such campaigning should be done “in the ordinary course of the organization’s regular and customary activities in carrying out its exempt purpose” and that its additional expenses be minimal. Neither of these is likely to be enforced by an underfunded Internal Revenue Service.
What the House bill really amounts to is throwing open an entirely new channel for campaign money to politicize churches, charities and foundations. Today, so-called super PACs are a massive force in politics, spending more than $1 billion in the 2016 election cycle. Such super PAC donations must be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission and are not tax-deductible. What if these donors are tempted to give their money to a 501(c)3 organization that beckons with a tax deduction and no disclosure? The givers won’t hold back. Churches and church-affiliated groups generally don’t even have to file IRS returns, so there will be no information about who these contributors are. Other 501(c)3 groups do file, but the donors are not disclosed to the public. The politicized churches, charities and foundations could become the latest vessels for dark-money politics. The House language is not in the Senate legislation, but it could survive to a conference.
The change is unwanted by large numbers of tax-exempt groups, who fear the corrosive impact. In a letter in September, more than 5,500 organizations in 50 states warned that repealing the Johnson Amendment would destroy their hard-won credibility as nonpartisan organizations. The change would also set a dangerous precedent, offering a federal subsidy — the tax deduction — for those making political contributions.
The churches, charities and foundations already enjoy the right to advocate for issues. There is no need to give these groups a new cash window and make them servants of special interests seeking to further warp the nation’s electoral politics.
Patty Ratliff says
I read that whole post, and I’m a bit confused on trumps part. Did he want to get rid of the Johnson bill, banish it, or keep it in place?
I’m totally for keeping that bill in place after reading what you said about it.
Thank you for what you are doing!
Mike Rinder says
No idea what Trump wants. This is a House Tax Reform bill.
Mike, I really hope your show with Leah never ends because I believe it’s keeping people who are watching from joining. Everentually the church will die out. If this show will be renewed please let us know. thanks! God bless you and Leah!!
Repeal of the The Johnson Amendment will level the playing field between vested interest corporations and religions.
I’m all for the repeal.
Mike Rinder says
You actually want Scientology to have the power to buy political influence legally? Shame on you.
Not at the expense of the rights of other religions. The Johnson Amendment is the incorrect avenue as it also denies the rights of others. Rescinding the CO$’s tax-exemption is the way to go.
Shame on you for not taking the rights of other religions under consideration.
Mike Rinder says
Nobody should have the right to legally influence politics with secret funds that are subsidized by taxpayers.
#1 Son says
And truly…that’s the bottom line. As a Christian, I don’t want my church in politics either. Right now, they would risk their tax exempt status if they promote or support a candidate.
As for separation of church and state…that is to prevent state run religion . Having said that, how long before the influence of the wealthiest religion takes over the state if this statute is repealed?
Corporations are NOT people, yet they are given rights. Corporations are commercial entities. They are allows to lobby the government. The Johnson amendment will allow religious groups that are 501 (c) (3) s to ability to become super PACs. I am against that.
Mike you should have named this post “Ad hominem free for all”. I totally disagree with allowing religions to secretly contribute to political campaigns and believe in the separation of Church and State, I knew right away that the trolls would totally misunderstand your position and come out swinging and attack you!
Robbie Phillips (Eh=Eh)
One off the things that I always think about in a situation like this, is that people and our society tend to assume that any established group that is religious, is based on Judeo-Christian-Abrahamic moral and ethical norms, or at least similarly benevolent and humanistic principles and practices.
Christians, in particular, know of “Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), and yet seem largely oblivious to the possibility that an organization might arise under the cover of religion, that is fundamentally dedicated more to what is known as evil – and to trying to hide its true nature for purposes of deception – than to good.
I don’t know what it’s going to take for there to be recognition that groups claiming religious status need to be subject to checks and balances, except, typically and sadly, some intolerably tragic harms and abuses.
Finally Free says
I’m just curious, who did the church support in the last election?
I remember them forcing us young adults to register and vote in favor/against certain referendums in Clearwater when I was younger, even let us leave A to Be School early to do this. They routinely were able to sway the vote (one in particular I remember, was to re-do the park behind the library, across the street from the Sandcastle. Voted to fix up the park, but not use taxpayer money for it. Wtf? Of course it never happened. So stupid as I look back now).
There’s no separation of church in state clause in the US Constitution. That idea comes from a letter written by Jefferson, who didn’t even attend the Constitutional Convention where and when the document was written and the ideas for it were debated. Jefferson was in France. This is Jefferson’s opinion. There were arguments on this in the first Convention and not all agreed with Jefferson.
First Amendment only says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
It’s about the federal government establishing a religion. FYI at the time, of the ratification there were states that had state endorsed churches which was allowed even after ratification. It took most of the next hundred years or throughout the 19th century, when states on their own volition dis-established those state established religions.
There should be full disclosure on all campaign donations. But curtailing the same right others have here, which falls under liberty, free expression and assembly, on any religious institution is making a law respecting an establishment of religion and is religious discrimination. The US Constitution does not say we’re free from religion either. The SC should strike it down if they use strict construction with original intent of Framers.
Take a look at the Federalist Papers and read the notes from the original Constitutional Convention. Lots of misleading information out there passed down by people.
Mike Rinder says
Well, not to get into a long debate with you, just two points:
1. The “separation of church and state” has become a shorthand reference to the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment. It is true, it does not use those words. It’s like the 2nd Amendment doesnt say you can own guns if you are not using them to be in a militia. There is a TON of case law interpreting the establishment clause to prohibit ANY government intrusion into the affairs of religion.
2. At the time the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written there was no Federal income tax — let alone carved out exemptions for religious organizations, which could be argued to be in violation of the establishment clause.
But the prohibition on governmental intrusion into religious affairs is exactly why you CANNOT have full disclosure of campaign donations when they are funneled through a religion. Because the government has little to no oversight over their affairs. And political contributions are hard to envision as a “public benefit.”
You are not going to change hundreds of years of settled case law about the rights of government to intrude into religious affairs and force IRS oversight over how they spend their money and where they get their money from (like they can do with any other person or entity). But you CAN stop that from being LEGAL because it is currently established as not being legal which DOES allow government oversight. There may be no way of changing that any religion can be granted exempt status, but like many other countries there COULD be a “Public Benefit Test” that most religions would not object to. That would block scientology from being recognized as exempt (like it has been in the UK).
Donna Brennan says
Mike, I have contacted my Representative and senator insisting they keep Trump from eliminating the 1954 Johnson Amendment. I am also contacting as many people as possible to do the same. So far all calls and letters to the irs have fallen on deaf ears. Scientology is a cult organization!! What more do these people need to stop them from benefiting from abuse, rape, assault on its members , on and on to wake the hell up?? I’m trying to help but you Mike and Leah keep up the exposure And it will end! I still believe in justice and that it will prevail!
Donna Brennan says
Byw Lonnie there has always been separation of state and church!! People like yourself tend to try and transpose and change the meaning of everything ever written ie; the Constitution, the Bible to your own definition! Good luck with that mindset. WOW
Wouldn’t the supreme court stomp the brakes on this anyway? As far as I’m concerned the separation of church and state is one of the founding principles of the United States.
Don Alexander says
I was thinking the same thing!
Us Magazine had an article about Leah Remini taking on the C of $. Their source was Tony Ortega. They asked the church for any response. All they got was “A church spokesman said…” They never named WHO from the church said what. So by not identifying who the church spokesman was in that article, it is a way to let Davey have his say without saying he is the one they’re quoting. And maybe they don’t identify the name of the church spokesman because they know that sooner or later that person will blow and then how embarrassing will it be that the church’s own spokesman later blew. I think that’s why they don’t name and identify who is saying all these things. Tommy was the spokesman and he is no longer in the church. Mike Rinder was a spokesman and he left the church and spoke out. So it just doesn’t pay to have any name connected with anything in the church, right, Davey?
Sneak Preview Update:
Sure, it is always amusing to see the uninitiated realize that the US operates on the best Government that money can buy. On the bright side, new legislation may permanently cement your cult as a failing small dwarf special interest amongst the big dogs on K Street in Washington, DC.
BTW, if you want to see what the news will be like when you drop your bod, check out today’s New York Post cover with Charlie on it.
Also, if you actually do a hit piece on Tony, journalistic decorum requires that you give him the cover of your propaganda rag, FreeDumbshit.
Chee Chalker says
Sadly, it’s not as if legislation, or wog law,
has ever stopped Scientology before.
I’m feeling cynical today – Scientology will continue to find the police, the judges, the politicians who can be bought off and they will continue to buy them off.
In theory, I agree and am not in favor of secret political contributions
What ever happen to the separation of Church and State….?
Old Surfer Dude says
Miscavige rolled it all into one. He don’t need no separation.
CO$ Money Doc says
This tax bill is pork at it’s finest, and nowhere is this better exemplified than sneaking in a repeal of the Johnson Amendment. It’s as egregious as the SCOTUS decision, rendering corporations as citizens for political donations under FA “free speech” provisos. It further serves to expose the pernicious hypocrisy at the nexus of party politics and special interests. If we assume that evangelical interests are behind this repeal, a formidable argument can be crafted to expose the conservative hypocrisy of advocating for all sorts of lucrative tax breaks and regulatory exemptions for mega-churches and such, yet cynically screaming “for strict constitutional adherence” in other areas; more so, in repealing Johnson, they now gain the ability to underwrite pro-faith political positions with tax exempt dollars! How do they square “separation,” with the status quo, wherein current tax law essentially allows for state-support of religion through tax exemption, and now, the potential to influence the political process en toto? This all evolved from agenda-driven regulation and cynical exploration of “religious freedom”; thus the remedy exists in simply reversing those same cynical machinations.
I’m a huge believer that owning the narrative is key in delegitimizing Scientology, and is critical in this fight as well. “Freedom of Religion” must be referred to in the Founder’s original terms, not those hijacked by any one religious special interest. Crucially, this frame of reference must objectively strip any belief system of the ability to use government exemptions as a means of control or enabling abuse. Essential to this, is the establishment of a formal public benefits test, as well as the elimination of all but the most basic of deductions and exemptions with no room for interpretation. “Religious workers” would be subject to the same employment and taxation laws as any minimum-wage worker, regardless of “religious tenets”, and “our beliefs”, never allowed to supersede human rights or judicial oversight. It’s doable, and absolutely vital, regardless of political chicanery such as the Johnson imbroglio.
Republicans should take note: if this portion of the tax bill is NOT shot down in the Senate, it will be bad news for THEM too. VERY bad news. Because Democrats will use this bill too.
What’s to stop individuals from donating yuuuge sums to the Roman Catholic Church, say – to get Democrats elected?
Aside from abortion, liberal policies benefit the Catholic Church much more than Republican policies do. Lots of poor, immigrant Catholic workers in this country! Aside from abortion, the Democratic immigration policies are very welcome to the Roman Catholic Church in this country.
How about George Soros and and other liberal billionaires “buying” churches so that these churches can in turn donate for the billionaire’s candidates? Think it can’t happen? How about the NOI being bought by Scientology? The NOI which is composed of mostly struggling, working class or not working at all African Americans? Money talks. Scientology talked and the NOI walked right into their arms. You don’t think that Miscavige’s money had something to do with this link up?
Churches are vulnerable, nowadays. Membership down, overall.
Make no mistake about what will happen. Churches will be used for political purposes by BOTH sides. Presidents, congressmen, senators, national elections, state senates, mayoralities – oh, boy. One picnic after another!
And, last but not least, synagogues and mosques will also be able to donate to politicians’ election campaigns with NO disclosure. Let THAT sink in a little. Something tells me the Christian Right would not be too pleased with this.
Church ABC is flush with untraceable cash and bit coins. All other religions are cults as far as ABC is concerned. ABC believes the planet is overpopulated, climate change is natural, and people demand too much income.
What do you think the U.S. will look like in 20 years?
Good blog entry.
Suka Jones says
Sadly the Johnson Amendment is routinely violated. In a documentary on Wisconsin politics and the recall election of Governor Scott Walker preachers were shown telling congregations that “Christians don’t vote Democrat !”
I think getting all money out of politics with publicly funded elections and making lobbying into the crime it already is is the way to go.
Churches have an upper hand in tax exemption over other groups and still get heavily involved in politics. I would love to end tax exemption and all the privileges it brings. I would prefer to have human rights enshrined as a primary value and tell everyone you can’t abridge them. No religious volunteers who don’t get minimum wage or healthcare or worker safety laws or anything else.
Scientology couldn’t operate as it does if all staff and Sea Org members had to be paid a decent wage, say at least fifteen dollars an hour and time and a half for everything over forty hours in a week. And if Scientology had to provide good benefits including healthcare and a pension plan.
Miscavige would rapidly be closing orgs under those rules.
I like the way they do it in England. Prove you are truly charitable or you don’t get the tax break.
There is zero reason why any 501c3 should not have to prove what they are doing with the money donated to them…religious or not.
There is zero reason why any 501c3 would object unless they have something to hide.
Interested Party says
“I do not want scientology gaining the ability to influence and buy politicians like they can buy lawyers and private investigators.”
Very laudable, do you apply the same set of rules to bankers, medical insurance companies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, psychiatric corporations?
The COS fails into shadow compared to the damage the above do on a daily basis to the entire people of the USA.
I do not excuse the COS of its current IAS donatology practice as a substitute for delivering auditing and training, but my experience with them is the attack only after they have been attacked.
Why is this such a problem to you sir?
Mike Rinder says
Clearly you have difficulty comprehending what was written. I have trashed all your other comments that accuse me of having no balls and being in fear (you who doesn’t use your name) because they serve no useful purpose.
This one illustrates a point.
The problem is with political donations being deductible and not disclosed. Period.
” but my experience with them is the attack only after they have been attacked.”
You sir lack experience and facts.
Old Surfer Dude says
And newcomer knows, in spades, experience & facts better than anyone!
Interested Party —
They attack only after being attacked??
You cannot possibly be serious. There’s a ton of evidence which proves otherwise.
Please spare us your utter bullshit and lies.
The roll back of the Johnson Amendment is not a good idea and I will contact Vern Buchanan, my representative.
Before the Viet Name War, a few Christian leaders were getting involved in many political issues. In fact, I personally remember pulpit rantings about the atheistic Vietnamese and Chinese Communists. Buddhism was also not viewed favorably by the extreme right in those days. The fire for the Viet Nam War was aided by these views. Johnson got sick of hearing it and thus the law.
We would also get pro-Scientology candidates, I’m sure. Hubbard promised to return as a politician in the 1980 Student Briefing.
The e-mail has been sent to Vern. He is usually a “good egg” and tries very hard.
I Yawnalot says
Sounds like a potential money laundering racket with political motives to me. I have a hard enough time trying to understand US politics but surely anything that makes any aspect of the money trail for political donations murky and hidden can’t be a good thing. Hidden and undeclared sources of money to buy political favours or entice politicians to be on a secret payroll is a scary proposition in any society. Hasn’t history had a hard enough time already with both Church & State in bed with one another? It is my understanding the clever people who wrote the US Constitution separated out stuff like that so it wouldn’t happen there.
It’s disturbing to comprehend that a religious tax free status like Scientology has could become an attractive haven for untraceable tax breaks for the politically inspired power brokers. Man, that’s really scary! I sure hope that that tax bill doesn’t get passed for sanity’s sake and I’m on the other side of the planet, wading neck deep through the Westminster styled system of politics. Good luck America!
Hip Hip Hypocrisy! says
That’s a pretty remarkable editorial run in the Washington Post, which was purchased outright (with cash) by Jeff Bezos, so that he could influence public opinion and support the political candidates of his choice via the “news.”
Mike Rinder says
Sort of misses the point. Which is the problem in this political climate. Rupert Murdoch did the same thing. Everyone tries to influence politics and that is the point I am making about this law.
Hip Hip Hypocrisy says
Not sure where any point is missed.
It is true that influencing public opinion is not illegal, but some are trying to make it so, at least for people with whom they disagree.
Another notable example of hypocrisy in this regard is the New York Times leading the charge on the “Russian” influence on the last national election.
Apparently the editors at the NYT don’t want folks from outside the US to “influence” public opinion about something so sacrosanct as a US national election
Except that the largest single shareholder of the NYT (which endorsed Clinton) is not even an American citizen – it is the billionaire Carlos Slim…a little known and almost never mentioned reality. He purchased the stake that made him the largest single shareholder during the run up to the last Presidential election.
The bias of the ownership of important media sources manifests itself in every political direction imaginable.
The NYT and WAPO both have become so opinionated in their political “reporting” that one does not even need to read their content to know which way they will skew – one only needs to know the issue.
The rest is as predictable as the sun rising in the morning.
It wasn’t always this way, but it is now.
Mike Rinder says
The problem is when you allow funds to go through religious exempt orgs they are being subsidized by taxpayers. And because there is no reporting requirement or oversight on religious exempt organizations they are SECRET.
Carlos Slim owns the NYT and Rupert Murdoch from my home town owns Fox. At least their influence is overt and not subsidized by normal taxpayers BY LAW.
Hip Hip Hypocrisy says
Mike – I’m intimately aware of the assertions about the dangers of tax exempt organizations (like churches) being used for political purposes. They are quite real.
But I see very little “outrage” in WAPO or the NYT about the nearly $ 3 billion that the Clintons received into their “foundation’ which is tax exempt and functions in almost identical fashion to the IAS, including (subsidized) 1st class global travel for the top people and (also subsidized) multi-million dollar parties thrown for the biggest “donors.”
The above $3 billion is inclusive of the $150 million the Clintons raked in as taxable personal income via “speech fees” since Bill left office and all the while that Hillary was a Senator, a Secretary of State and a candidate for President.
The hypocrisy is astounding, but is so pervasive that it is almost invisible, at least in WAPO and the NYT which paid lip service to the issues, but mostly remained silent.
And BTW – the Johnson Amendmendment was a 100% political decision – undoing it would also be a political decision.
Disagreeing with some else’s politics is not illegal – yet – in America.
Mike Rinder says
Scientology is my issue, not the Clinton’s. I don’t see outrage in WAPO or NYT about a lot of things. Dont see it on Fox News about what I consider abhorrent sexual predators if they are Republicans. There are a LOT of things wrong with society. A lot of things wrong with the media.
You and some others are trying to make this a partisan issue. It’s not. I don’t want scientology buying politicians. No matter what outrageous things Bill Clinton did. Or what outrageous things Donald Trump did. Or what outrageous things JFK did.
I am trying to make a simple point. Unfortunately, this country has become so insane that because I chose to quote from the Washington Post people think they have to defend against what I am saying as if it is some plot to forward the Democratic agenda.
Nope, it is me trying to forward MY agenda.
I didn’t ask for a political debate. In fact, I specifically asked for that NOT to become the subject. But some people find it impossible not to politicize it.
I’ll say it again. If this was an article in the WSJ about a Democratic plan to make secret, subsidized political donations I would be just as opposed to it.
Hip Hip Hypocrisy says
Mike – I think the controversy you think you are seeing is related to the overwhelming lockstep agreement in the mainstream press that the left / liberal viewpoint is the baseline of reality – and that anything that diverges from that baseline is somehow “aberrant.”
Agree with you that on the surface the argument about not wanting non-profits (in this case churches) to be able to secretly fund political donations seems non-partisan.
But it is NOT.
The fact is that dozens of giant piles of money are already used covertly in secular 501(c)(3) “Foundations” (like the one run by the Clintons) which are actually operated for political purposes and legalized bribery.
The real issue behind the “concerns” about the Johnson Amendment is that the folks that would become enabled – do not lean left in politics.
Sorry – but that’s the truth.
As former GO / OSA, you should be able to see through the shore stories more easily.
It is NOT about – “but look what the Clinton’s did.”
The effort is to prevent opponents of the Clintons from doing what the Clintons are already doing.
I’ll let this go after this last comment but do recommend that you spend some time looking into the practical reality of the Clinton Foundation.
You will find that “secular Foundation” is already doing EXACTLY what folks making noise about “what would happen with churches” – if the Johnson Amendment were repealed.
Mike Rinder says
I hope this is your last comment as you obstinately refuse to understand what I am saying while trying to divert this into a discussion about the Clinton Foundation. It might be corrupt as hell. Scientology is NOT a “Foundation”. It is a religioin. ANd to make up for the sins of the Clinton Foundation you want to give scientology the right to buy politicians.
If you’re offended by Bezos, who isn’t even liberal, then I’d imagine you’re offended by Murdoch’s media empire spreading conservative propaganda across multiple countries via dozens of different outlets, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal in the United States. I’d also imagine you’re offended by the FCC changing the rules so Sinclair Broadcasting, with its very conservative stances, can continue to buy up local TV and radio stations. Giving them a huge presence in the US media market, including all major markets.
Peter Norton says
“And if you don’t agree with my views, remember the US Constitution and the idea that this country was founded on a principle of separation of church and state.” Mike, the vast majority of citizens born in the US have never read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, nor any history of the Founders and what they stood for. Virtually ALL the information has been erased from schooling. In order to graduate from high school, I had to pass several “civics” classes. All that has been erased during the past 40-60 years Politicians prefer a dumbed down electorate, just as they do in Europe and many other countries.
But as a recent citizen, you had to study these things in order to become a citizen and you’re thus far more qualified to write on what’s going on.
A key point of the structure of the Constitution was that it did not set up a democracy! The Framers were highly educated and knew their world history well. So they set up a limited REPUBLIC. They knew what happened to democracies and that they eventually turned into mob rule, something we’re seeing all over Europe now and elsewhere in the world. It’s becoming more that way in the US now. Don’t like what the “other side” is doing? Riot!
It all saddens me.
Well well well… Hold on a second there, will you ?
In my european country we learn and Still teach our little ones the history of our Revolution, our flag, our national anthem and it’s in the very official program for their exams.
We also study YOUR History, dear american commenter. What do you think of that, dumb ?
Joe Pendleton says
Well put, Mike.
An important reminder that the attempts to “game” the system never cease, and so our vigilance must never cease, either. I’m not American and I don’t live in the U.S., but these sorts of shenanigans occur all over the world, and when successful, screw economies and screw all taxpayers not privy to the scam (see Global Financial Crisis, and especially sub-prime loans. See also the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers).
According to one source*, American Abolitionist and liberal activist Wendell Phillips, speaking to members of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society on January 28, 1852, said:
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few.”
Henry Syfert says
So this might explain why Lois Lerner illegally targeted tea party 501c3 applications for tax exempt status. Even if the bill passes I think you have nothing to worry about cause with all the Obama holdovers in the IRS no church or conservative group would ever have their 501c3 status granted. Clean the swamp! Please Mike Rinder I love watching you and I love this website, please stay out of politics please.
Mike Rinder says
You so miss the pint in trying to make this partisan. Sad.
Old Surfer Dude says
I, on the other hand, never miss a chance to drain a pint.
Laura Schwaller Simper says
I’d love to watch you debate Mike. You would lose!!
Debate what? Politics?
What the hell is your problem with Mike? Let me guess, you’re a $cientologist?
Go away if you have nothing to contribute other than being an asshole.
If she had been addressing Mike the punctuation would have included a comma, like this:
“I’d love to watch you debate, Mike. You would lose!!”
Since there was no comma, the “you” was directed at the poster.
Better not be so quick to lash out at every imagined opportunity and, based only on your personal biases, assume you know where the poster is coming from.
First of all, clearly I misread the post based off the absence of a comma…so sue me.
Second of all, I don’t know where you come off accusing me of “lashing out at every opportunity based on my personal biases”.
You need to need simmer down and accept that I simply misread the post.
I’ll apologize to that poster for my misunderstanding.
I just know that you’ve lashed out at me, too, on the assumption that you know a lot about me.
Sorry if I exaggerated, though. So sue me. 🙂
I’ve never said I know a lot about you. Clearly, we’ve never met. I only know what you’ve posted here and at Marty’s nasty site.
Look, just because I think Hubbard is a lying-vile-conman-quack and that the tech is a joke doesn’t mean we have to argue. Disagree…yes.
Thank you for saying you exaggerated. I appreciate that. I feel really bad for misunderstanding Laura’s post. I hope she sees my apology.
Okay, thanks. This is one blog post almost everybody can agree on. Cheers!
I apologize for my earlier reply to you. I thought you were saying Mike would lose if he debated politics.
That’s my bad. Sorry for the confusion.
I Yawnalot says
It always tickles me when someone claims to know the result before a game/debate etc is played out. Life sure beat that computation out of me before I was 10. Some people just never grow up imo, others rig the game so they can’t lose, that’s where criminality generally comes in. In the military, I forget the exact figures but it’s don’t engage the enemy unless you have a 5 to 1 advantage or something like that, so sheer force is a game with a pretty good estimation of result, but it’s not always certain – the element of surprise for example is one heck of a thing! Not to mention brilliant leadership, plus sheer guts or sometimes stupidity/dumb luck winning the day.
Learn you skills well, have a back up plan and always do what you opponent wants the least and never forgetting in the back of your mind, discretion is the better part of valour, Shakespeare also used a form of it: “The better part of valour is discretion.”
I like to see Mike bring up items such as this to expose & debate on this site (I know he has the option of monitoring commenters) but never would I expect a result until it actually happened, as research or the lack of it plays a big part of understanding or misunderstanding why he brought it up in the first place. For the most part I don’t see this as a political inciting debate at all but rather the exposing of a mechanism that just reeks of corruption no matter what side of the political fence gets to use it if it’s passed into law. Mike’s a clever guy doing good things as I see it with this site and I would not bet against him like you just have. Back in the box chocolate.
I Yawnalot says
Oh… the misplaced comma! Damn that thing gets around. (Miscavige made a fortune out of it!).
I got out of time sequence and wrote my comment before I noticed the later comments which only came up when after I clicked “post comment.” One of the foibles of this type of electronic interchange.
Sorry about that, please accept my apologies. But it did make me a look a little deeper into the reason this blog entry is important. That is a good thing!
Hey Yawn —
Was that second reply to me? I didn’t realize the first one was.
If it was to me, thanks for the apology. Cheers.
I Yawnalot says
I relied on your reply to realise what I had hastily done, plus I think you’re a square shooter. Trust is earned not borrowed. I like the way you comment.
Who would have thought that a scumbag could make a fortune off of the topic of overuse of semicolons. See kids, it pays to pay attention in grammar school.
I Yawnalot says
Hey Crimes, if business opportunities were so obvious, we’d all be millionaires. Scumbags like Miscavige KNOW they are on borrowed time. Take at least some solace in that.
I’d line up to piss on his grave.
Henry — Mike can write about whatever he damn well pleases. Telling him to “stay out of politics” was rude. Just sayin’.
Lois Lerner/501c3/IRS/Tea Party have nothing whatsoever to do with the Johnson Amendment … apples and oranges.
At this point in time, the easier path is to remove 501(c)3 entities as a whole. Tax them all and be done with it.
Otherwise, we are allowing tax deductions for political donations. This would destroy most (non-religious) organizations in the USA, but at this point, that is inevitable Removing 501(c) designations and taxing every organization would simply move the destruction forward at a faster rate. So, do it.
jere Lull (37 yrs recovering) says
“Removing 501(c) designations and taxing every organization would simply move the destruction forward at a faster rate. So, do it.”
I believe that “solution is quite a bit too simplistic, and would have nasty unintended consequences. Not every 503(c) organization is religious or political. nor are they out to influence others. A specific example that I’m aware of is Mensa, a “self-help group for folks with the same mental affliction”: the ability to do well on standardized tests. The only criteria for joining is having scored in the top 2% in a standardized IQ test. In my opinion, most folks I known and worked with in Scn have the qualifications. Tubby didn’t want no dummies, only those who could/would keep themselves fooled once he mesmerized them with his web of word-traps and thought-stops.
it is simplistic indeed. But if all 501(c) organizations are allowed to become tax-free political advertisers, all 501(c)s will do so to survive.
So, nip it in the bud and tax them all.
Thanks for this, and your insightful comments. The House bill (which has now moved onto the Senate) has been evolving since it got to the Senate. Some of the revisions (as of Nov. 10) are listed here: http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-gop-tax-reform-senate-bill-text-details-rate-2017-11. If you have questions or concerns about this bill, you can reach your Senators by calling (202) 224-3121, which is the switchboard for the U.S. Capitol.
Python Swoope says
I emailed both of my Senators (Ohio) through their Contact Web Page. I asked that they DO NOT remove the Johnson Amendment from any future Tax Plan!
Now we wait….
By far the best way to contact your representatives and senators in Congress is by phone — speaking to an aide. Signing petitions are totally ineffectual and email just a little less so. This is documented.
Python Swoope says
Congress “sold out” to special interests long ago – time to DRAIN THE SWAMP!
Mike Rinder says
This is doing the opposite.
Gee, now where have I heard that before??? I’ve only been seeing getting deeper lately.
Same swamp, different alligators.
The issue is not politics here.
The point of Mike Rinder’s commentary is vital and pertinent to purpose of his blog and not political, all of which are obvious to anyone ready, willing and/or able to read.
As a former journalist, and also as someone who believes the separation of church and state is crucial to our nation’s ability to survive, and not devolve into theocracies that we see in the Middle East, it is disturbing to see the religious zealots that our current president has appointed to key positions. Before the Bill of Rights was adopted, citizens of Virginia were sometimes beaten or jailed for not attending church. The burning of “witches” was triggered by religious zealots. James Madison recognized the dangers and made freedom of religion the very first thing in the First Amendment. Allowing religions to funnel money to politicians will enable Scientology (and other groups) to have much more clout in all governments — local, state and national — than we have seen. It is a very dangerous thing. Great post, Mike. And you are right. It is NOT fake news.
And on the flip side, Stalin and Lenin were totally anti-religious zealots.
Don’t churches all over America rail against one political party or the other simply by choosing a hot topic and endorsing that topic?
jere Lull (37 yrs recovering) says
“citizens of Virginia were sometimes beaten or jailed for not attending church.”
I’m not 100% certain, but I believe it was the Puritans of Massachusetts who had that particular law. I didn’t hearof other areas doing similar, but DO recall Thomas Jefferson ensured religious tolerance was instilled in the Virginia constitution.
I’m a little sensitive about the subject, having grown up in Pennsylvania, which was definitely founded with tolerance for all religions. Within 15 miles of my home, it’s likely that there’s at least one of any religion or sect you cared to name, including Quakers, Amish, Mennonite, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Jehovah’s Witnesses and three varieties of Judaism that I can name off the top of my head. Many of them have been around since colonial days, some for 300 years(1682 for the Quakers
The notable exception to that is SCN, now that DM forced the local “mission” to convert to CL V org, and then pushed them into Philly’s”Ideal Org”, a ancient 15-story warehouse in a bad neighborhood that no savvy developer wanted. Once the he building was purchased, nothing else has happened, since no one could be convinced that it could ever be viable. Bad location, bad neighborhood, awful parking; badly constructed and UGLY building, which was why the property was available relatively cheaply. The smart money has since moved south out of the city along the riverfront, closer to the major roads and rail service where people actually go. Meanwhile, there is no active SCN presence in any other part of Pennsylvania; Or Delaware, New Jersey, or Maryland. Other than NYC, the next closest SCN building is DC. In a dump I visited ONCE and wouldn’t return to without an armed guard. Expect the area has deteriorated since my visit in ’72; Am certain the org is no longer as *posh* as then
That review of SCN’s lack of presence locally got me thinking: Why didn’t DM do the easy thing and make NYC’s “Ideal org” the Hotel Martinique, where NY org had been flourishing for years? (That’s where I did the HSDC and levels.) Plenty of room to expand into, even berthing for staff and space for the FOLO, CLO or whatever he calls it these days.
Answer: Because it might actually have worked, and he can’t have that happen, can he? His record of consistently picking the wrong horse borders on prescience.
Idle Morgue says
This is a benefit to the politician – for more $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
The benefit to any religious cult – oh, let’s say Scientology….is it will Keep Scientology Scamming!
The mere fact that Scientology is STILL operating …. in light of all the facts regarding fraud, deceit, extortion, money laundering, human trafficking and cruel and inhumane treatment of its staff and members ALL whilst HIDING behind the religious cloak….
Tells me the condition of the US Government is TOO big to fix….too corrupt… too fucked up!
Unfortunarely, for many years, all politicians vote in what is best for THEM…..not the people!
They all need to get out their clay and demo kits and clear up
Their Misunderstood Words
Then clear up all words in the
But first clear the word
Patricia Labellarte says
I have a very hard time accepting the fact that the “church” of Scientology is a church. When I think of a church I do not think of people on ships or compounds being beat up and having their minds, physical bodies and families totally destroyed. I think of people who worship together and are a family. I think what needs to be done first and foremost is call Scientology by it’s real definition. A Cult. A cult is any organization that is run by one man. Cult’s are NOT to be defined as a church. It’s insulting to my upbringing and all of the true houses of worship out there. I say before this bill is passed Scientology should have it’s status changed to a business organization. I truly believe that Donald Trump isn’t a politician, and I see all the good things he has done in the short time he’s been in office. It’s the politicians that ALLOW to be bought and paid off. THAT swamp has to be drained and the men and women that we vote in need to be held accountable. Just as all who are in control of Scientology and all of their little “stars” and “starlets” need to be held accountable for what they are doing. Once that is under control we don’t have to worry about people being in other’s back pockets. I know that is only in a perfect world. Both Dems and Rep have broken our Government and it would take years and years of change to weed out the bad. Scientology has put a huge stain on what is supposed to be good in our world. Churches are a place you are supposed to go and be safe and loved. The movement has started, and it’s just a matter of time for Scientology. I pray for you all and I know what you are doing is right and good. Always fight the good fight!!
Betty Myers says
“MONEYBALL POLITICS took a great leap forward when the Supreme Court opened the door to campaign contributions from corporations and unions in the 2010 case Citizens United v. FEC.”
This opening line is a lie Mike. The “door” had been open since the founding of the country. Citizens United OVERTURNED a RECENT unconstitutional law that closed that constitutionally open door.
The 1954 Law violates the First Amendment (the Founding Fathers ALLOWED Churches to preach from the pulpit as part of THEIR right to speech).
This is a result of the Obama Admin refusing to enforce the law in the case of super politicized black evangelical churches who campaigned for Dem candidates from the pulpit and collected campaing constitutions in the church for favored candidates.
They simply need to add a reporting requirement for the churches like unions have. They also need to add more reporting requirements for corporations.
If you are going to go this way at least be consistent and nail both sides. Goose and Gander
Mike Rinder says
Which “side” do you consider I failed to “nail”?
The Dems. They violated that law continually in the last 10 years. By candidates and preachers campaigning from the pulpit.
Now that the law they [the Dem party] violated, and refused to prosecute offenders for is in danger of being lifted, they scream like stuck pigs.
You don’t see the almost criminal level of hypocrisy from the writers of this article you posted?
Mike Rinder says
Nope. You are taking the position that “the Dems” violated the law so now the Republicans should formalize that as legal. That’s not intelligent.
Ammo Alamo says
I love you for what you do, including this attempt to rally opponents of any law that aims at more secret campaign contributions, and which reduces church-state separation.
But I know anything political on a blog with comments can be like opening a can of worms… People already miss the point, which is allowing tax-exempt and secret political contributions funneled through tax exempt churches, I think.
No, I’m saying that it is HYPOCRISY to call out Repubs for wanting to do something through LEGAL channels that the Dems are doing ILLEGALLY.
This is fake news via key intentional omission. (not on your part)
Why did you stop my post about Holder & the IRS commissioner under Obama teaching Dem preachers how to break the law without getting caught?
Also, Judges CAN under the equal protection clause throw out laws that are not being enforced equally. It is part of our legal process in the US.
Mike Rinder says
Your attempt to make this OK because it’s done legally is why u say u r missing the point. It’s not whether it’s fine legally or by Democrats or Republicans. I object to the whole concept of Scientology being able to legally buy politicians. Or ANY religious exempt organization becoming a secret subsidized slush fund for political influence. How is that hard to understand?
People rush to object in partisan grounds. Like I said this is NOT a partisan issue. But oh the cries because it comes from the WaPo and is about an amendment being pushed by Republicans. Believe me if this was from Fox News or WSJ about the Democrats trying to push through the same legislation I would have the same post. I am not trying to say previous actions by Democrats were defensible. But there is nothing we can do about them now. This is happening RIGHT NOW.
I wish people would stop fighting about things on the basis of whether they are fair to republicans or democrats and focus on what is right or wrong on the MERITS of the matter instead if drawing comparisons “well, what about what THEY did?”
No, one side REFUSING to follow the law IS the point. That is why the equal protection clause exists. If the law isn’t being equally applied ( and it isn’t and won’t be) if has to be struck down. That is key to US law.
The IDEAL is that people in power respect the law. When they don’t yet enforce it in a partisan manner it gets abolished.
Mike Rinder says
No, one side REFUSING to follow the law IS the point.
That’s the partisan point YOU are trying to make. NOT the point I was making.
You keep trying to turn this into a discussion about whether the Republicans are justified in doing this because of what the Democrats did.
It doesn’t matter to me. You keep trying to explain how it should for some reason. I don’t care if it’s Republican or Democrat. If it’s being done because bad people did bad things before to justify more bad things being done. I don’t want THIS bad thing to happen — a license for scientology to buy politicians and generally a license for secret, subsidized money to influence politics. Period. And I don’t care who is doing this or what “good reasons” they have for it. You fundamentally don’t get that I don’t care about the politics of it. You want to keep arguing and explaining that.
I Yawnalot says
I wish that too. It’s sad that often attention is diverted away from the important issue at hand by clouded opinions or tunnel vision loyalties. That type of attention diverting is a highly polished skill employed in politics from time to time and some of the darnest things can get passed into legislation on the back of the debates about it.
One example in Australia was the selling off of public utilities. The debates on it were endless back and forth Liberals vs Labour but at the end of the day, legislation was passed selling it all off and now Australia has the most expensive electricity in the world. They argue like crazy who’s fault it is and blame each other over the political fence. My simple question is, where’s all that money going? Santos, an independent oil and gas supplier is a good place to start looking. They managed to link gas and electricity prices together, and then over contracted gas supply to overseas entities that they couldn’t fully supply, so the Australian public has to pick up the slack. Neat trick, makes ’em a stack of cash. Arguing politically about it now is like closing the door after the horse has bolted.
Don’t let that tax bill get passed. Close that door NOW!
Mike R : I had my attorney husband read this blog, stem to stern. He has also watched episodes of Aftermath with me and shakes his head in disbelief. 2 things struck him about today’s blog. 1) some people don’t understand law and therefore miss the point you are trying to make and 2) he was very impressed by your dignity, balance and courage under fire. I second that motion.
+1 CGarrison, what you said!
CO$ Money Doc says
Neither side has a monopoly on virtue when it comes to pork-laden legislation; such behaviors go way back, and this is simply a more highly-publicized manifestation of the status quo. What’s at stake here is the ongoing corruption of the Constitution and the Founder’s intent, under the guise of “religious freedom”; it’s anything but, and is blatant, sheer hypocrisy when it comes to the prevailing party’s complaints of “activists” judges who “interpret” the Constitution. You can’t have it both ways, and current tax law, and now this mess with Johnson, are shameless attempts to legislatively enable unwarranted and unconstitutional state support of religion through indirect means. All sides of the political spectrum should be alarmed at this, as it goes to the very heart of the republic’s founding ideals.
Katy Lied says
I agree with Wynski. If I am in a labor union, or work for a corporation, it’s okay. But if I am a member of a religion, I cannot express a political opinion from the pulpit. Okay, so you think Scientology is evil- lets not punish all of the other well meaning churches who truly do good in the community because of Scientology. Let’s just work to de-certify Scientology.
Mike Rinder says
I think you missed the point.Labor unions are not TAX EXEMPT. Donations to them are not deductible
By making an institution tax-exempt, with donations to that institution deductible, the government is indirectly supporting that institution. It’s not much to ask in return that this institution not be directly involved in politics. By “direct” this means supporting candidates and parties by name. There are still plenty of ways to push your membership in one political direction or another without breaking this rule.
My taxes pay for the police and fire protection the local church receives. Infrastructure including roads and sewers that service the church. The church itself pays nothing. If my local church wants to openly become a branch of the Republican Party, which they very much want to do, then they can start paying their own taxes and stop living off of people like me. It’s not too much to ask.
“There are still plenty of ways to push your membership in one political direction or another without breaking this rule.”
Now that you mention it, that’s how they used to do it with SO members, and probably still do. We would be given the slanted, or at least cherry-picked, data that showed who or what would be of benefit to the church – and we then knew who or what we were to vote for. So it seems to me that memberships can be pushed in more than just a direction.
No one is stopping preachers from saying whatever they want from the pulpit, as long as they pay their damn taxes. If the Johnson amendment is unconstitutional, why in the last 60 years has it never been struck down?
hgc10, amount of time for something to be struck is not equal to its constitutionality. That is insanity logic
I don’t believe that preachers are allow to instruct parishioners from the pulpit about how they should vote. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe this is legal, or constitutional, or something. That said, I know my evangelical relatives told me they vote for whomever their pastor says. Now, I didn’t ask them if their pastor told them to vote for Trump from the pulpit or if somehow their pastor got instruction or “suggestion” across to them at a chicken supper or something. But that’s what they told me. They vote for president the way they’re told. Also don’t know how typical that is of other evangelicals. I do know they vote as a block, Republican and in that they are unique. Catholics, Protestants, Jews don’t vote as a block. Evangelicals do. Coincidence, or whatever.
One of America’s founding principles was separation of church and state. Such a shame to see it reverting. Everyone’s free to worship in America as they wish. Why can’t religions stay the hell out of politics and governments (pun intended) and enjoy the precious rights and tax free status’s they have in this great country? I don’t get it.
Mike Rinder says
I am sure this is more true than not. With ALL religions (scientology tends to vote AGAINST anyone that supports anything to do with psychiatry). And it will never NOT be the case.
What I don’t want is for it to become LEGITIMATE and LAWFUL and thus give free license for secret, subsidized political donations.
Nor do I, Mike. Believe me, I get it
Lisa Bianco says
Sorry but this wasn’t the founding fathers had in mind. Like it or not most of the founding fathers weren’t Christians but Diests. Research it
This is exactly what my daughter told me. She graduated with Honors (B.A.), from an Honors History program. Most people don’t delve deep enough into our country’s history to know this. I know I didn’t!
Correct, Lisa and Annie. Deists, not Christians. I’m quite directly related to one of the Signers on the paternal side, so I know a bit about this.
Shelley Taylor Wilcome Trinh says
Thank you Mike, for always keeping us updated ,in the loop and very informed, I keep hoping that they’ll be stripped of tax exemption for misuse of funds and boy are they misused!!! Have a great day!
What Shelley said. And no tax exempt church should be allowed to donate to politicians to get them elected without those politicians having to disclose the source of the contributions. Its just wrong. Disgusting. At this rate we’ll be the world’s largest banana republic.
And furthermore, this bill is serious bad news for everyone.
If a church can donate any amount of money to a politician’s reelection campaign and not have to disclose it, then any individual or corporation can give money to that church for political reasons.
Churches will effectively become conduits for campaign donations for those who have reached their legal donating limits.
It really stinks.
Have to say, even as a Christian who skews liberal on social policy yet conservative on financial issues (& yes it gets conflicting at times – LOL) it’s SAD to see everyone try to turn this into a partisan thing! I get Mike’s point!
I’m thankful I’ve gone to churches where they may talk about the biblical view of individual issues but are very careful to stay away from endorsing one party over the other (even through inference… there were equal issues on both sides this last election for SURE)!
The LAST thing I want to see is politics infiltrating religious institutions… churches, mosques and especially not CO$! It’s just dangerous and will create even more division & distrust! I want to see MORE transparency, not less… MORE critical thinking on an individual basis NOT less because people would rather just have someone else tell them how to vote! Ugh!