Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Religion / Taxes / Politics

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When our government was designed the founders took special care to protect the freedom of religion by explicitly recommending a separation of church and state. Over the years it has been misinterpreted as forbidding the churches intrusion in governmental affairs. More recently a careful examination of the early references to the separation of church and state have yielded a very different interpretation.

The founders original intent was to prevent the state from intrusion in governmental affairs. The exact opposite of the previous conclusion. If the more recent interpretation is correct, it follows that the federal, state and local governments are required to not interfere in the affairs of any church.

Okay, what constitutes a church?  How is it recognized? Who determines that a group is a church or simply a group? These questions may illustrate be the first conflicts between church and state. Right off we must recognise that churches are people, not buildings. To be a church they must have at least three people (a president, treasurer, and secretary) in order to be considered a corporation under the law. Once this is established two things happen: 1. A church is given (by the federal, state, and local government) tax free status as a non-profit organization. 2. The government will authorise a recognized church to purchase and hold property without paying any federal, state, or local property tax.

My point is that it is the government that recognises what group is or is not a church, and it is the government that determines that a church is a non-taxable non-profit organization that can purchase and hold property without paying any property tax. So government does indeed have a small role to play in the recognition and tax free status of churches. All of these inter-relations were thought of and written down by our founding fathers. They successfully defend all American churches from any [further] government influence.

This is a necessarily long way to reach our current American dilemna. The politically correct crowd merrily goes around defacing or prohibiting any kind of religious symbol from any government property. They claim this is illegal according to the separation of church and state concept of our government. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nowhere in America's founding documents is any intended or unintended statement to that effect. There is no legal reason that the Ten Commandments can not be illustrated in a court room, nor is there a legal reason that any other recognized religion can not display one of their symbols. We need to use common sense to determine yes or no. Certainly, equal time, equal space, equal whatever, must prevail. So is the concept that if one is banned, they are all banned.

I am confident that the above statements are basically true. Certainly our founders did not want the government influencing or interfering in churches. Certainly, by granting tax free status to recognized churches the government favored the establishment of churches. My question gets down to the heart of the matter.

Should churches promote political positions?

I'm not talking about partisan politics here, but about issues that do not involve the morals, ethics, and values as taught by the church. Any church. This is a confusing issue for me and I would appreciate receiving your comments on it. Before you comment would you do me the favor of reviewing the website listed below.
Thanks.

1 comment:

Teresa said...

That painting is a masterpiece! The Founders stated separation of Church and State so no particular religion would be government sponsored. The intent was not to eliminate God from our public schools, government and its buildings and our society but give us religious freedom and choice. The progressives have distorted the meaning of separation of Church and State in our Constitution. We must stop political correctness.