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Mordecai
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Registered: Jan 2001
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Friggin Christanists

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0...2322590,00.html

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Old Post 01-24-2007 01:47 AM
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Smug Git
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The Polish are the ones that have really pushed for this. It's pretty fucking stupid.

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Old Post 01-24-2007 02:12 AM
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SimpleSimon
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I think they'd be better served by constitutionally forbidding the organization of any polity on religious grounds of any kind, and forbidding any organizedf religious body from interfering politically.

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Old Post 01-24-2007 02:17 AM
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BROKEN_LADDER
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Or just get rid of government to make it a non-issue.

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Old Post 01-24-2007 09:51 AM
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Coincidence
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Registered: Apr 2004
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"Christianity is the root of all of Europe's moral values. -- Marco Gessler"

So wrong. It may be a prominent branch on Europe's moral values, but the roots are greek. I think even the pope acknowledged that in his famous speech.

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Old Post 01-24-2007 11:55 AM
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squee
the amen break

Registered: Jul 2001
Location: Norfolk, VA
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quote:
Originally posted by SimpleSimon
I think they'd be better served by constitutionally forbidding the organization of any polity on religious grounds of any kind, and forbidding any organizedf religious body from interfering politically.
Along what lines?

It's pretty troubling to me to think that someone could turn me away from the polls because I'm Catholic: "We don't want your pro-life agenda around here." In general I think restricting the vote to any given group (say, secularists or agnostics) is a Bad Idea.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 01:37 AM
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SimpleSimon
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quote:
Originally posted by squee
Along what lines?

It's pretty troubling to me to think that someone could turn me away from the polls because I'm Catholic: "We don't want your pro-life agenda around here." In general I think restricting the vote to any given group (say, secularists or agnostics) is a Bad Idea.

I am not advocating restricting the vote. I am advocating a ban on any political organization basing its program or platform upon a religious doctrine - such as catholic canon law, or sharia law. I would further ban any religious group from organizing political action groups, advocating any political party or candidate, or saying anything more than "Go vote" in regard to any political question, on penalty of loss of recognition and legal protections/privileges now accorded to them.

If they want to be politically active, and are committed enough to forego tax exempt status and other special recognitions and privileges, more power to them.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 03:35 AM
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3MTA3
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Registered: Apr 2003
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seconded.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 05:21 AM
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Coincidence
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Tempting. But if they unbanned normal civil liberties, all that would probably not be necessary.
Also, banned religious people tend to get even more nutty.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 08:50 AM
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squee
the amen break

Registered: Jul 2001
Location: Norfolk, VA
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quote:
Originally posted by SimpleSimon
I am not advocating restricting the vote. I am advocating a ban on any political organization basing its program or platform upon a religious doctrine - such as catholic canon law, or sharia law. I would further ban any religious group from organizing political action groups, advocating any political party or candidate, or saying anything more than "Go vote" in regard to any political question, on penalty of loss of recognition and legal protections/privileges now accorded to them.

If they want to be politically active, and are committed enough to forego tax exempt status and other special recognitions and privileges, more power to them.

I could agree with limits on endorsing specific candidates, perhaps. On the other hand, it seems like there's been an effort by both the political Left and Right in America to marginalize mediating institutions such as churches and social clubs. It just doesn't sit well with me.

Just to be clear, if an election came down to a pro-choice candidate versus a pro-life candidate and someone said, from the pulpit, "The teaching of our Church is that abortion is wrong and you need to remember that when you cast your vote," would this be disallowed according to your principles?

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Old Post 01-26-2007 02:39 PM
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Smug Git
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I think that Churches should take no tax breaks at all, and get involved in politics as much as they want*. Once a church take the tax breaks, they limit (quite properly, because the breaks are for non-political organisations) their ability to speak out on what's important to them.

*Although I think that they'll be more effective if they stick to a relatively small number of things and keep their powder dry for when they'll need it.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 02:48 PM
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Smug Git
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quote:
Originally posted by squee

Just to be clear, if an election came down to a pro-choice candidate versus a pro-life candidate and someone said, from the pulpit, "The teaching of our Church is that abortion is wrong and you need to remember that when you cast your vote," would this be disallowed according to your principles?



Personally, I think that they should say it and they should lose their tax breaks (indeed, they shouldn't ever have taken them).

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Old Post 01-26-2007 02:50 PM
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squee
the amen break

Registered: Jul 2001
Location: Norfolk, VA
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quote:
Originally posted by Coincidence
But if they unbanned normal civil liberties, all that would probably not be necessary.
I'm not sure what you mean by this. When I enlisted, the base chaplain gave us a talk about our rights--the only one that was not seriously abridged under the terms of our contract was the right to practice your religion. Chaps said "This is the 'First Freedom' in the Bill of Rights--the right to be free to believe what you want to in your own head. If this is not allowed then none of the other liberties matter."

It seems as though the opposition to religious groups preaching politics has more to do with their success than with anything else. They have tax-free status because on some level the Fed at one point believed that it was good to have these institutions, which typically operate on a shoestring, around, not because it was a condition of their neutrality or anything. You notice people are going after the Megachurch Fundies and to a lesser extent the Catholics because religious conservatives have become so powerful in America; yet I do not see SimpleSimon or anyone else for that matter calling for, say, an investigation into which candidates receive contrubutions from the Church of Scientology, or which Senators are endorsed by Jewish "cultural" groups.

Just sayin', there's a bigger picture here I think.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 02:57 PM
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CHiPsJr
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Pardon my ignorance, but does this tax break stuff even apply to Europe?

I was under the impression that most European states had official state religions, and that while non-official faiths weren't persecuted or anything, the practices of taxation were different than those in the US.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 03:07 PM
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Smug Git
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I think that most Churches in the UK, at least, would have charity status and get those tax breaks. I would imagine that is similar in a lot of other European countries, who have a fair amount of religious diversity (although that may not include Poland, which I believe is nearly all catholic).

In Germany, churches are linked to the state even more tightly as the state seems to handle some donations through payroll taxation, or something like that. It's pretty weird.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 03:47 PM
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SimpleSimon
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quote:
Originally posted by squee
I could agree with limits on endorsing specific candidates, perhaps. On the other hand, it seems like there's been an effort by both the political Left and Right in America to marginalize mediating institutions such as churches and social clubs. It just doesn't sit well with me.
Churches as mediating institutions? I will respectfully disagree. Churches are far more often centers of polarization and divisiveness. It could hardly be otherwise - after all, most of them teach that if you do not believe as they do, you are a hell-bnound sinner, utterly condemned.

quote:
Just to be clear, if an election came down to a pro-choice candidate versus a pro-life candidate and someone said, from the pulpit, "The teaching of our Church is that abortion is wrong and you need to remember that when you cast your vote," would this be disallowed according to your principles?
Specific utterances and acts would be subject to more general rules, Squee - that is the way the law typically works. In your example, my personal inclination would be to say that such was an exercise of undue influence, and see if perhaps stepping over that line might not deserve consequences - economic consequences. That is my inclination. I am, quite openly, opposed to organized religions of any kind.
quote:
...It seems as though the opposition to religious groups preaching politics has more to do with their success than with anything else. They have tax-free status because on some level the Fed at one point believed that it was good to have these institutions, which typically operate on a shoestring, around, not because it was a condition of their neutrality or anything.
You are seriously misrepresenting the origins of tax-exempt status and other privileges churches enjoy. That status is a social legacy derivative from European practices, which themselves originate in catholic canon law empowering the church as the dominant social institution.


There was some debate over the continuation of those practices by the founding fathers, most especially in Pennsylvania. In the end, they continue. At the time of the enactment of the 16th Amendment, creating the income tax, there was debate in the US Congress over whether, and to what degree, to continue those special privileges, and the IRS code has subsequently addressed such questions many times.
quote:
You notice people are going after the Megachurch Fundies and to a lesser extent the Catholics because religious conservatives have become so powerful in America; yet I do not see SimpleSimon or anyone else for that matter calling for, say, an investigation into which candidates receive contrubutions from the Church of Scientology, or which Senators are endorsed by Jewish "cultural" groups.

Just sayin', there's a bigger picture here I think.

I don't give a damn if it is Dr Dobson, or Jack Hardesty (he is pastor of a 60 member church in Longview, TX). I don't care if they are wiccan, or satanist, or christian, or muslim, or buddhist, or Taoist, or any other brand of delusional magical thinker - they are welcome to their delusions, so long as they keep them out of the political process. Obviously, such is impossible in any absolute sense.

So, perhaps a good general rule might be - "No organization may enjoy tax-exemption or reduced tax obligation status whose officers or members use any assett of that organization to advocate any political position in any question before the voters, or as regards any candidate".

Just so you know, Squee, Scientology does not have tax-exempt status under the IRS code. Most of the vocal Jewish political organizations do not, either. The Knights of Columbus certainly do, though, as does Opus Dei, the Benedictine Order, etc.

Last edited by SimpleSimon on 01-26-2007 at 05:34 PM

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Old Post 01-26-2007 04:27 PM
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Coincidence
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It says in the Danish constitution that the state “supports the Danish people’s church”, which is of course Lutheran Protestant. About 85% of the Danes are members (you are born a member, but can choose to skip it). Tax percentage is 0,42 to 1,51 depending on region, which is high compared to most of Europe.

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Old Post 01-26-2007 07:34 PM
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squee
the amen break

Registered: Jul 2001
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quote:
Originally posted by SimpleSimon
So, perhaps a good general rule might be - "No organization may enjoy tax-exemption or reduced tax obligation status whose officers or members use any assett of that organization to advocate any political position in any question before the voters, or as regards any candidate".
Ok. On the one hand I agree with you, but there's just a layer of complexity that I don't think you appreciate because you are so opposed to organized religion. Take, for example, the fact that the Catholic Church runs schools and orphanages. This would probably not be possible without the tax-exempt status; so you're offering the choice of closing down instutions that do benefit society, or else bow out of the political process altogether. I don't understand why this would seem like a good idea to you unless you were so hostile to religion that you would rather see all of them mute than put up with its viewpoints if it means it can still do some good in the world.

Our society has to make choices like that all the time. Look at, for instance, paternity laws--our government would rather see an injustice visited upon a man who has to pay for a kid that isn't his than to let that kid starve. I'm not going to argue that allowing churches to retain their status is a "good option" or a "least bad" option, but it just seems to me that your hostility to religion is really heavily influencing your decisions here.

I hope there is some third route. Like Smug, I don't like the idea of some Congresscritter making decisions solely based on some religious text. Catholics have the "argument from reason"--when I learned apologetics (from a Benedictine) it was always stressed that you can't argue a point unless you can come at it from a strictly secular point of view. Do you suppose then that there is some compromise that can be reached or are we just in a state of culture war?

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Old Post 01-27-2007 02:13 AM
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Smug Git
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If they are taking tax-exempt status, they have to shut up about political issues. Given that that is not something they should do, they should do the best that they can without the tax exemptions. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's.

Also, the catholic record on providing services for children hasn't been without its failures, so the 'we need the tax exemption so we can minister to kids' isn't the strongest argument. Frankly, speaking as a catholic myself, I want them not to be taking goodies from the government, because I want them to stick it to the government (and other politicians) when necessary. Losing the tax exemption is a small price to pay (and it's not just the law; if you make yourself beholden to government, you put yourselves in their pocket for fear that they might take away what they give you).

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Old Post 01-27-2007 02:25 AM
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lucidnightmare
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I'm surprised you're catholic Smug.

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Old Post 01-27-2007 02:33 AM
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SimpleSimon
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Smug said it well. I have no problem with religionists expressing political opinions, even using whatever societal respect their position/institution might bring to weight their opinion for others. I do object to those positions/institutions enjoying special privileges and benefits under the law while engaging in politics.

In my view, political discourse ought to take place on as level a playing field as we can manage to make for it. I recognize clearly that social position, economic clout, etc, will unbalance that process, giving advantage to some as compared to others. To add legal leverage to the economic resources of some players which is denied to others is, in my view, an entirely improper misuse of governmental authority.

Arguing that some functions of religious organizations ought to be accorded special status and privileges, while those same organizations use that status and those privileges to leverage their political opinions is error. For example, the so-called evangelical protestant organization "Focus On the Family" and all of its officers ought to lose their tax-exempt status, retroactively for seven years (that being as far back as the IRS is allowed to take such action), be required to pay back taxes, penalties, and interest on their incomes both as an organization and as individuals. So ought Opus Dei, and many others.

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Old Post 01-27-2007 03:44 AM
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