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There is nothing prohibiting Pastor Booth or any other speaker in any pulpit from saying what they will, political or otherwise.

The issue is the tax exemption.

Well, I think almost everything should be tax-exempted, but the idea that churches should have no part in politics has always struck me as absolutely ridiculous. Any decent religious creed by its very nature presupposes a political position.

Squidley, that's your cue. This is the venue you've been waiting for and I'm not kidding and I'm not being sarcastic. I'm guessing this is something you have already given a lot of thought. Me, I believe that having an officially recognized imaginary friend shouldn't qualify you for as tax exemption and that save the whales should probably pay taxes, too.

Minor clarification. The tax exemption is only questioned if you support Republicans or criticize Democrats. See Rev Wright and Father Flaky for the most recent examples of political speech from the pulpit that raises no tax issues.

Sanity issues? Different question.

The issue is the rules for tax exemption. Anytime an individual/organization wants something from the government, part of that contract is giving up some freedom by way of rules and regulations. If you don't want the government telling you what to do, don't ask the government for special treatment (asking for tax-exempt status,entitlements, etc).

I understand the principles of tax exemption. I don't believe they apply here. The penalty is exclusively for saying the wrong thing from the pulpit of the church. Whether a logical case for loss of tax exemption can be made, does that not constitute an egregious violation of Free Speech?

How is the logic of loss of tax exemption for saying the wrong thing different from the logic of any other penalty for saying the wrong thing?

Tom wrote,

"Current law says that a church can't endorse political candidates. If it does, it can lose its tax-exempt status. That would effectively kill most churches."

Jesus said,

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s."

I sense a disconnect here.

While not quite at the oil and water level of immiscibility, politics and Christianity don't mix, and those who do mix them misunderstand what Christ told us.

Now obviously, our religious views color our political actions. However, the purpose of church is not to tell us how to vote: Christianity is about following Christ, and sermons are supposed to explicate the word of God. I'm surprised I even have to say this.

As I've said before, I've never been to a religious service where the pastor or priest (or rabbi, for that matter) told the congregation how to behave politically. If I did attend such a service, I would walk out, as they would be veering far from their primary mission: preaching the Gospel.

So while removal of IRS interference is an admirable goal, and while Obama's (ex-)church is as Christian as I am black, and while Hillary's union with the adulterous liar she calls a husband is a mockery of a Christian marriage, I'd say that you're off the mark, Tom.

I don't believe that what I said had anything whatsoever to do with religion. I don't believe politics from the pulpit to be either good Christianity or good marketing for a church. I referred to the practice of politics in the pulpit as "stupid and counterproductive."

All of that said, if a pastor wants to be stupid and counterproductive in the pulpit, I believe he has the absolute right to do that and that the government shouldn't intrude in it at all.

Well, I'm just as much in favor of stupidity and counterproductivity as you, Tom.

And I now see my mistake: you meant that losing tax-exempt status would kill most churches. Unfortunately, I misread you to mean that removing politics from the pulpit would kill most chuches. A regrettable but understandable mistake, given how you've defended Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright and Obama's membership in that church. Funny how Obama said he could no more disown Wright than he could disown his own relatives--until he disowned Wright and quit that church about a month after the first speech.

Also understandable in the light of your admitting that you heard plenty of things you disagree with eminating from the pulpit of your church, which we all took to mean political prattling, rather than the Gospel. Were we mistaken?

Squid: Regardless, 'Render unto Caesar' isn't the appropriate quote here, since we're not talking about whether to obey the law, just if we should change it. In a democracy, we are (at least, in theory) Caesar, and we decide how we tax ourselves.

Yes and no, Adam. Yes, your fundamental point is right. However, please recall that I misread Tom's post and so you can pretty much ignore my first post.

No, the US is not a democracy. It is a republic, and yes, in a republic, We The People are caesar. I hope and pray that we never become a democracy, because that is no more than organized mob rule.

Besides, if we were truly a democracy, homosexual "marriage" would not be legal in any state, because in every state where the issue has come to a vote, the people voted against it. But we're a bunch of ignorant, prejudiced rubes, so our "betters" whisk the decision-making away from us and produce the "correct" result, regardless of the will of the people.

That's not democracy. Autocracy, dictatorship, tyranny--yes. But not democracy.

Since I have not given a lot of thought to taxation and The Church I appreciate your thoughtful comments. (once again, no kidding, no sarcasm)The only point of contention is that civil unions would be voted down in all states. Christianity, with notable exceptions like the Crusades, The 100 Year War and the Inquisition, has stayed away from spreading the Word by force. It has been a "live and let live" religion. What I have seen and heard across the US is that since civil unions don't affect heterosexuals most people are okay with officially recognizing a lifelong commitment between two people who love each other. They may think it "icky" if they let their minds wander to particulars but no more so than sexual congress among the morbidly obese. I think the phrase "whatever floats your boat" accurately reflects most people' attitudes.

I cannot fathom why anyone who has called me a "Nazi" not once, not twice, but three times, would be interested in my opinion on anything. However, since you ask, here are my thoughts on how homosexual "marriage" is harmful to real, one-man-one-woman marriages. (Posted on this very blog, BTW.)

Just for the record, a search of comments on this blog for "Nazi" and "Squidley" indicates that no one has ever called you a Nazi. Your beliefs have been compared to the beliefs of Nazis, and in a couple of instances you've been referred to as "like a Nazi," but my admittedly cursory search (I lost interest fast, to be honest) turns up no actual case of anyone saying "your'e a Nazi."

And your "thoughts" on how homosexual marriage is harmful to "real, one-man-one-woman marriages," which are cribbed from Gary Bauer, are most interesting in that not a single one of the bullet points is actually true. Government agencies won't be required to "promote" homosexuality, society won't have to abandon the word "mother," Christian charities won't be forced out of business, single-sex sports won't be banned, and on and on.

You'd think even a nutball like Bauer would be able to hit one true thing, even if simply at random. In this case, all seven are utter fiction. If that's the world view you want to attach yourself to, by all means.

I know that I have used the N-word regarding Squidley at least once when he commented about what a bad thing inter-racial marriage is. Miscegenation is ugly. I got ugly in my response. And in response to your question, Squid, the fact that you hold some pretty repugnant opinions doesn't negate the fact that you are obviously intelligent and give a lot of thought to subjects I don't. I have actually learned things from your posts. While I feel my experience with the mixed-race members of my family trumps your academic interest in inter-racial marriage I still try to recognize a true fact or a good idea even when it comes from you. I have been much more restrained here than Senator McCain or President Pro Tempore Cheney have been on the Senate floor to those who have raised their ire.

Gee, Tom, thanks for the nuanced refutation of my patently-false assertion. I guess being likened to Nazis, or being described as holding Nazi-like beliefs, are completely and utterly different from actually being called a Nazi, and I should give Wally the hugs and kisses he deserves for continuing to try to "engage" me, in spite of my repugnant and repulsive views.

Yeah, I was borrowing Bauer, because I think he summed it up better than I could. So what? In any case, his analysis is based on verifiable facts. As I recall, some government--Quebec, I think, or perhaps somewhere in Europe--has changed its birth certificates to read "parent one" and "parent two," instead of the normal, biological "mother" and "father." Orwell's novel has become fact, for Newspeak-like manipulation of the language to control our thoughts is upon us.

Despite your claims otherwise, Christian charities in the UK and Massachusetts have been forced to close their doors or cease being Christian. Whither religious freedom if it conflicts with non-discrimination? We know the answer now.

Given how PC and non-discrimination and other tools of the liberal tyranny have already warped Western society, given how liberalism continually attacks Western society and culture, I find Bauer's other predictions entirely plausible.

As for the harm of homosexual "marriage" to society, someone else has said it better than I:

My marriage is affected because it has been redefined, without my consent, to mean something it did not mean before, and because the special honor that attaches itself to my marriage has been stripped away by the inclusion of a totally different order of relationship.

This is difficult for most modern people to understand, because most of us live in a nebulous universe of relative morality dedicated to the realization of individual wants. All higher meaning has been stripped from life, so there is nothing more than our "happiness." Only when we return to the traditional understanding that there are structures bigger than ourselves, entities that transcend individuals, like the family, community, nation, and church, and that sometimes we must supress our selfish desire for these greater entities, can we achieve something worthwhile.

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