For a few years now, right-wing leaning church leaders have consistently stepped over the line to become deeply involved in politics. They have heavily criticized President Obama and have made every effort to inject religion into policy, all while remaining tax-exempt organizations. And finally, the IRS may have had enough.
According to KWTX 10 News:
IRS regional manager Peter Lorenzetti told pastors attending the Faith Leaders Summit meeting in Washington that activities that could result in loss of tax-exempt status include endorsing or opposing candidates, campaigning for them or making contributions to their campaigns.
There is a loophole for pastors to exploit, however. As long as they claim to be acting in the capacity of a private citizen, pastors can do all of the above with impunity. They can also hand out voter guides that “educate” about issues.
I think most of us would agree that churches and their leaders have stuck their noses into political matters long enough. And their interference has been quite devastating to the country. The Catholic Church in particular has been very vocal in the political realm, opposing everything from contraception, to Planned Parenthood, to same-sex marriage and health care. And the Catholic Church has done this all while pulling in a whopping $2.9 billion in taxpayer money. And the Church doesn’t pay one dime in taxes. So while the crazy right-wing priests of the Church complain about government policy, and criticize President Obama while touting conservatism, they’re literally rolling in billions of dollars of tax-free federal cash.
It’s not just the Catholic Church though. Many other churches have also pushed their way into politics, all while waving their tax-exempt status in our faces.One LDS Church leader solicited funding for Mitt Romney, which is a violation of the law. Some church leaders have even managed to use the church to hide their assets. For instance, Rev. John Hagee reorganized his TV station (Global Evangelism Television) as a church (Grace Church of San Antonio Churches) to shelter those records, after the San AntonioExpress-News revealed his income exceeded $1 million in 2001. All of his assets, including an 8,000-or-so acre ranch, are now sheltered in the Cornerstone Church. In other words, Hagee hides his millions in assets in his church and escapes taxation on his own personal wealth and property. Undoubtedly other so called “men of God” have done this. So why not revoke the tax exempt status of mega-churches? They already make millions and get involved in politics, so why not tax them?
Right-wing preachers around the country have made it clear that they intend to lobby heavily in support of Republicans and conservative policies this year. Perhaps if Americans lobby the IRS long and hard enough, right-wing church leaders will lose their status, and be held liable for their actions and words. ‘Tax The Churches’ should be the next great chant Americans cry out this political season.