The CRR is a Lobby and Must be Treated as Such
First the truth, (you can always expect this from me). The Christian Religious Right is one of the most influential lobbies in Washington. They control the entire right-wing of America’s political influence. Their issues have become national issues and this is a direct violation of the First Amendment.
The Reason Religions Were Given Tax-Free Status
Decades in our past, there was an agreement made between religious leaders and our government which promised that if they refrained from political involvement in manners of governance, including political affiliation, they would remain tax exempt organizations. This later applied to religious schools. This decades-old agreement has since been violated constantly, and should no longer be enforced. It’s long past time for all Americans to pay their fair share of taxes for the privilege of living and doing business in America.
Arguments for continuing tax freedom for religious and many charitable institutions are no longer based in reality. Religious leaders are included in the list of America’s millionaires. There is no question that monetary gain has become a part of the reason why many men and women become members of the religious hierarchy. Added together with our largest charitable organizations, our nation loses tens-of-millions of dollars in tax revenue each year.
Why I Give to Local Churches, and Small Charitable Organizations
My research reveals that the majority of our large charitable institutions are a farce. More than 60 percent of all donations are distributed among the administrators. These men and women receive lucrative incomes while the needy they claim to serve continue to suffer. Always remember two facts: follow the money, and America is more of a business than a country where profits are of greater importance than our people.
Rules for Remaining Tax Exempt are Clear, but Frequently “Sidestepped”
Charitable organizations will not be taxed if they remain faithful to their intended purpose, and maintaining their intent to be a non-profit entity. If they do make profits, the money received must be relatable to their mission statement. However, nothing is stipulated in regard to the administrators, with the following exception.
Currently, you and your employer each pay a 6.2% Social Security tax on up to $147,000 of your earnings and a 1.45% Medicare tax on all your earnings. If you are self-employed nonprofit worker, you pay the combined employee and employer amount. This includes a 12.4% Social Security tax on earnings of $108.28 (up to $147,000 of your net earnings) and a 2.9% Medicare tax on your entire net earnings. If you earn more than $200,000 (or $250,000 for married couples filing jointly), you must pay 0.9% more in Medicare taxes.
When Government and Religion are Mixed, Nothing Works as Intended
Separation of church and state is mandatory if our government chooses to fulfill its purpose. It cannot fairly and honestly represent all 331 million Americans if it caters to a single religion, as clearly stated in the First Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The very first line is clear. Unlike the overuse of the Second Amendment, the first needs no interpretation. No single religion is to be given any preference over another. Sadly, this is not what happens in Washington today. The Christian Religious Right controls every decision made by the men and women who sit on the right-side of the aisle. This one fact alone demands that they be taxed like every other citizen.
Respect Must be Earned
America has problems, and I have always believed one of the greatest problems is any form of “hero worship.” Too many Americans offer a level of respect to athletes, celebrities, elected government officials, and church leaders. Respect must be earned, and very few of the individuals in these categories have earned that respect as human beings. Only one of the four has the privilege of living lives far more comfortable than most Americans, and do so without paying taxes. Help me understand why with the changes in the 21st century this “arrangement” remains.
By James Turnage, Author of “A Little Murder in the Biggest Little City”
Daily Citizen: Why Are Churches and Religious Organizations Tax-Exempt?
NOLO: Tax Concerns When Your Nonprofit Corporation Earns Money
US Social Security Administration: If You Work For A Non-Profit Organization
Top and featured image courtesy of Tucker Good‘s Unsplash page – Creative Commons License