Gay couple getting married in tuxedos.

Gay couple getting married in tuxedos. Photo courtesy of Lisa F. Young via Shutterstock

I’m stealing this headline from Sarah Posner over at Religion Dispatches, adding a slight twist to spice up an already controversial topic. Posner asks: Will Anti-Gay Churches Have Their Tax Exempt Status Revoked? Probably not, she concludes in the second sentence.

I’m a busy man. She answered the question. On most days I would have stopped reading. Today is not most days.

Last night Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses (and others) to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against gays (and others). Similar bills have been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Kansas. Some commentators have compared these bills to stand-your-ground laws. Others say they resemble Jim Crow laws. Others call such comparisons ludicrous.

Posner cites the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis, who basically says that conservative Christians are fighting these “religious freedom” battles for businesses partly because they’re afraid of what increased social acceptance of homosexuality could mean for churches:

“The real danger, of course, is that Christian pastors and preachers will eventually be coerced into performing same-sex marriages.”

“Coerced” in this context means do it or lose your tax perks.

Posner called up Caroline Mala Corbin, a First Amendment expert at the University of Miami School of Law, who told her, “Given that churches have long been able to discriminate against women without losing their tax exempt status, it seems highly unlikely that they risk losing their tax exempt status because they discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any laws respecting an establishment of religion. It doesn’t prohibit the government from supporting religion with tax breaks.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to cut more than $400 million in aid to Uganda unless the country repeals a harsh new anti-gay law. The levels of discrimination and institutions involved in these domestic and international cases are hardly analogous, but Kerry’s remarks and Posner’s post both got me thinking:

1. How much discrimination should societies and governments accept in the name of religious freedom?

2. Should the U.S. government discriminate against institutions that discriminate against individuals?

3. Should the burden be on men and women who feel discriminated against to just find another house of worship (or none) where they feel more welcome?

4. What are your thoughts on the word “discriminate” in the context of this debate?

I’m not going to answer these questions, dear readers. That’s your job. Chime in (or rant) below.

39 Comments

  1. Darrell Sammons

    There may be some validity to the points you have raised. Can the government revoke tax exemption from the local church? Yes. Does this pose a threat to the local church? For some, yes. If various taxes that are imposed on local businesses were imposed on local churches some would financially fold while others would feel the pinch, but churches will continue to exist. Many have wondered for decades if accepting these 504C3 exemptions would eventually harm the local church in the long run, well, I guess we will soon see. As far as ministers and pastors, these individuals already have tax laws written specifically for them, and have to use IRS form SE (self employment) to make sure everything is accounted for. Not to mention things that were at one time exempt from taxation for clergy, which are quickly beginning to dwindle anyway. I cannot present a strong argument for clergy tax exemptions, I will not attempt. But as for same sex marriage, that is a different story. A church or denomination cannot marry any couple, not even a heterosexual couple. A church or denomination simply has views on marriage and the sanctity of the institution provided by Church Doctrine, which is taken directly from Scripture. Ministers preform marriage ceremonies. Many ministers require several hours of pre-marital counseling with an engaged couple before they will even consider preforming a ceremony. What is misunderstood is that when sanctity of marriage is expressed only a small portion of this concern is posed toward same sex marriage. Why? Because the homosexual population of the US is in the single digit or low double digit percentile. Most concerns for marriage of sanctity are with the circumstance or reason for a marriage, children, and most commonly – the ever increasing divorce rate. Most individuals just do not understand or acknowledge that divorce destroys the sanctity of marriage more often than anything else. But to get back to the point at hand, churches do not preform marriage ceremonies, ministers do. I guess I may be in the minority to think that the federal government can tell a tax paying, law abiding, private citizen, personally, what civil services he or she must or must not perform under penalty of law. I could be wrong though, the Affordable Care Act is law and we cannot seem to find many elected representatives of the people willing to serve the people and their liberties, religious or not. If same sex marriage does become permissible by the law of the land, at least give the clergy the right to accept or reject their services to be preformed. We aren’t talking about a business saying no. “The owner of a business cannot deny services based on personal religious convictions,” some are saying. Let’s make this very clear a member of the clergy is not Hobby Lobby or your local bakery, he or she is a person with inalienable rights given by the US Constitution. If the minister says no, find another, there are so many to choose from. If that minister says no, find a rent-a-clergy on Google, or go to the County Courthouse and pay the judge $100 (or less) when you pick your marriage license, don’t deny someone of their liberty, religious or not, for your own.

  2. I’m uncomfortable by the way the word “discrimination” is used in this article. In it’s purest sense our civil rights law is designed to help ensure that everyone in our society is treated fairly…generally speaking. If a minister declines to marry a same-sex couple out of religious conviction is that discrimination in the legal sense? If a church chooses to hire a male over a female pastor because of it’s understanding of biblical gender roles is that discrimination in the legal sense? I think not.

    I personally believe that homosexual expression is contrary to God’s will and design. However, I am in favor of the move to create equality of rights for all, including those in the LGBTQ community. Our houses of worship should be left alone to freely exercise their religion as the First Amendment guarantees. The only other option is for the state to run religion in this country, and that is no option at all.

  3. Maybe churches can’t have their tax-exempt status revoked (not yet but it’s coming down the road)…

    …But even NOW, any congregation’s or denomination’s religion- related businesses, bookstores, colleges, or social helping agencies are totally at-risk of getting punished in court, and getting put out of business, for “discrimination.”

    What happened in New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington can happen to you. You’re not safe anymore.

    Individual business owners, whether Christian or non-Christian, are equally at risk of getting punished in court, if they refuse to help celebrate, validate, or affirm gay marriages via their goods and services. You could lose your business.

    It’s okay to debate things, but the cultists of leftist fascism are doing a lot MORE than debating. YOUR constitutional religious freedoms are as good as repealed!!

  4. Henry Chamberlain

    Many if not most churches believe that gay people should have the same legal right as all couples, but don’t believe that anybody should have the right to change the definition of marriage into something it is not. Marriage of a man and a woman has been and is the primary, the very best arrangement for children to be born and raised. Therefore the state has a vital interest in those marriages, and at church weddings it is said that Marriage is instituted by God. Opening marriage up to same-gender people, is changing the definition of marriage into an “arrangement between people who want to be together for life”. Oh wait, shouldn’t I have written, an “arrangement between 2 people?” Well… uh… why 2?

  5. Jason R Elliott

    The best solution is to simply remove tax exemp status for religious institutions (churches) period. If a religios institution wants to also run a charity or a nonprofit organization that provides a legitimate service to society, that organization could be tax exempt. Religious institutions (churches) themselves should pay taxes like everyone else.

  6. Unless a church acts like a PAC they have no reason to lose tax exempt status. Even the most virulent religious bigoted faith get it as long as they act like churches and not political fundraisers.

    It’s a non issue straw man argument. As for Brian’s questions, there is a certain level of skewed reframing being done by him. Here are my answers.

    1. None in the public sphere. You can keep people out of your home and church but not your business or public places.

    2. Yes, if they are doing things that go beyond merely religious speech. When the institutions violate laws of general application, the invite government’s hand.

    3. Non issue. Churches are under no pressure of any kind by governmentif they act like churches.

    4. Straw man. Denying goods, services, access to public works and protection of law based on personal animosities and prejudices is discrimination. Your use of it here is not really appropriate or similar.

  7. Brian Pellot

    Brian Pellot

    Post author

    My repeated use of the word “discriminate” in this post is intentional, as the final question should make clear. Many media reports have framed this as a religious freedom v. discrimination debate. I’d like us to debate the merit/appropriateness of that particular word in this context as much as the other questions I raise.

    • In the case of a Christian business owner who offers goods and services to the general public but refuses to do business with a gay person I think an argument can easily be made that this is indeed discrimination. A church, synagogue, or mosque is not a business. What they do and provide as part of the exercise of their religion is not the same as the business owner mentioned earlier.

      When it comes to the basic exercise and practice of our religions our Founders have rightly said to Congress, “Hands off!” But running a business? I personally don’t see that as a religious freedom issue.

    • The word is more appropriate in this context than “religious freedom” certainly is.

      It makes sense when talking about the intentional denial of goods, services, public facilities or protection of law. But the idea that the government is discriminating in question 2 is not applicable and number 3 is just not really apt. There is a big difference between claiming one is persecuted and actually being so. Not having the ability to discriminate against others under the color of law hardly counts as that.

      Its really discriminatory intent and actions vs. anti-discriminatory laws. The religious freedom argument is nonsense. Free exercise of religion has never been a valid pretext for harming others, which is really the purpose and effect of discriminatory practices. It also never provide opt outs for laws of general application. The people using “religious freedom” arguments, really aren’t. They are just using religion as a pretext for behavior which would not be acceptable no matter how one chooses to justify it.

  8. Brian Pellot said, “debate the merit/appropriateness of that particular word”

    Sounds good. My brief response would be, “let’s debate the DEMERITS and INAPPROPRIATENESS of that particular word.” That’s the truly accurate way to say it.

    The gay activists say “discrimination” in very misleading manner. They are conflating discrimination against people on the basis of skin color, gender, etc, with refusing to implicitly validate and celebrate people’s PRIVATE behaviors, lifestyles, boudoir choices, and unholy anti-God gay marriages.

    Business owners and congregations are the ones really getting “discriminated” against. The homosexual movement has become a fascist movement.

    • Doc what is misleading about denying people access to goods and services of a commercial setting based on animosities concerning the personal characteristics of the patron?

      Discrimination is the most appropriate term for that. It certainly fits better than “religious freedom” does. Religious freedom never includes the right to strip others of liberties or was ever meant as an escape clause to laws of general application (like the Civil Rights Act).

      Business owners are not being persecuted because they can’t persecute other people. They are just being whiny and uncivil. Commerce is not a religious activity. It also is not entirely private one either. It is an activity which is always subject to government’s hand. Unless your bedroom behavior is for commercial reasons :) , it is not the same concern one keeps for businesses.

      Businesses have no religious belief. Individuals do. We have laws for enforcing behavior of businesses in this regard because it is harmful for society in general to permit discrimination in this area. The idea of corporate religious belief is complete nonsense.

      Congregations are a different matter. As you could see from my prior response, I don’t care what a church believes, nor should anyone. Least of all the government. That is provided that they act like churches and don’t try to compel me to show concern for it.

      Nobody has to live according to the dictates of your faith or that of anyone else. Nobody has to suffer harm because of the dictates of your faith. Discriminatory actions in business create harm. Hence they become causes of action in lawsuits.

  9. 1. This an interestingly phrased interesting question. We certainly accept a great deal of intolerance in the name of religious freedom and I think fairly large amount of discrimination. As a society we allow churches to avoid hiring certain people for religious reasons that are discriminatory, but I’m not sure how different that is from other allowed discrimination. I may believe that women shouldn’t be lawyers. I can’t prohibit women from being lawyers, but I can avoid hiring a woman as my defense attorney (I don’t believe I could turn down a public defense attorney on these grounds though), but if I was a law firm, I could not refuse to hire a woman because of my beliefs. A particular church might say that they won’t hire a woman as a pastor, but they can’t prohibit other churches from doing so. So in this case churches are held to the standard of individuals in our other example as opposed to organizations. I think we could come up with examples though where the roles are reversed. At the end of the day we are quite arbitrary in these kinds of decisions and we should admit as much. This is a hard question, and the phrasing I think brings out its difficulty.

    2. I think the answer is obviously yes; however the question becomes in which cases should the US do this. I don’t think there is any final answer to this question, but rather it is constantly being worked out through our 3 branches of government, particularly in the legislative and judicial branches.

    3. I would say yes, but as a participant in free church polity I would be inclined to say so. If I felt that a particular church (e.g. the Catholic church) held some sort of priority (not saying all Catholics hold this, just using an example) then I might be inclined to say no. I’m not gay, but I’ve left a church because they discriminated against gay women and men. There, I took the burden on myself, but again leaving the church is a sort of baptist tradition. Other churches may have greater traditions for staying and fighting for reformation. I think tradition guides here with no uniform answer.

    4. “Discriminate” is a charged word. It can be easier to use a word with let baggage, but sometimes we need to use strong words to arouse people from their stupor.

    If churches are called to start paying their share of taxes, then they should be willing to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. I think it’s kind of a crock that we get as many tax exemptions that as we do as church’s, since such a small percentage of money that most church’s collect actually helps the needy economically. (Of course I would say the same thing about our taxes, so maybe that’s a bad a point.)

  10. J.C. Samuelson

    Forgive me if someone already pointed this out, but churches aren’t typically engaged in commerce of the type at issue. Although many do indeed provide pastoral and celebrant services to their congregants and select others, they are not in the same category as a business that sells goods or services to the general public.

    As for how much discrimination societies and government should tolerate, I’d say none – if, by “discrimination,” you mean to treat one group of people unfairly in comparison to other groups. If you mean something else, ask that question instead.

    When someone goes into business to sell to the general public, I think discrimination on any basis should be prohibited.

    By choosing to do business with the general public, business owners accept the virtual certainty of having to engage with people who think, feel, believe, and act differently than they. Obviously this could lead to uncomfortable situations.

    Someone in another thread tried the analogy of a Jewish baker forced to bake a cake for a Nazi. Now, I don’t have a clue how many Jewish bakers there are, or how many of them might advertise the connection (if any) between their profession and their faith. But as unlikely as it sounds, a Jewish baker might, in fact, be contracted to bake a cake shaped like a swastika for a local chapter of the Nazi party. Maybe to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. Should the baker refuse? IANAL, but it’s worth asking: on what grounds? To my knowledge, there are no specific prohibitions in Judaism from doing business with an adversary, and as uncomfortable as it might be, the baker doesn’t have any legal right to refuse the business.

    Incidentally, there was a story in the Jewish World Review some time ago – I think it might’ve been a year or two ago, maybe more – about a Jewish businessman in Colorado who sold furniture to a neo-Nazi. I don’t remember the end of the story, but I think it turned out well. I do remember that the business owner never hesitated to complete the sale.

    One other interesting thing about the Jewish baker analogy is that it alludes to the fact that for many people any belief will do, as long as it’s a “sincerely held” belief. Religion doesn’t even factor into that analogy. So where is the line drawn, really?

    Now, obviously there are boundaries. Business owners are certainly well within their rights to adopt policies that preserve the financial well-being of their company, to include protecting their brand, limiting liability, etc., and that preserve the health & safety of themselves and their clients. And there is such a thing as exclusive businesses that cater to certain niche clients only. But even they have to abide by the Civil Rights Act.

    As for whether the U.S. government should discriminate against discriminatory institutions, I think this is a loaded question. If ‘discrimination’ means treating someone unfairly, then the U.S. government should enforce the law (e.g., the Civil Rights Act) wherever it has jurisdiction, and this enforcement could not be considered discriminatory simply on the basis of the context. However, if you’re talking about churches, you’re talking about the Establishment clause, and yes, a religious institution can legally discriminate and espouse discriminatory beliefs, as long as they abide by laws governing public safety, health, and security.

    Just take the Westboro Baptist Church. They can spout all the hate they want and not get arrested. And they can refuse entry to their church to the general public. Why? Because their religious beliefs and practices are protected.

    To address your question concerning the burden of finding another house of worship, yes. The burden for finding a house of worship or other group falls on the individual. Always. Even if they feel discriminated against. It’s not up to the government to force the Westboro Baptist Church to accept gay members. Again, a house of worship or other group organized around an ideology is not the same as a business that serves the general public.

    Have a great day!

    • Private persons and their families are not engaged in any profit-making enterprises, either, yet they must pay income tax and real estate taxes. If they cannot afford buy their home, they are the ones paying the taxes for their rented homes in the rent they pay their landlords.

      Taxes are to cover the cost of living. It may be claimed that our tax structure in many ways is unequal and unfair, but the basic concept of taxes to cover one’s cost of living in society to the level each person is able is certainly reasonable–don’t you think?

      • J.C. Samuelson

        The idea of revoking tax exemptions from non-profit organizations, regardless of ideology, is thorny. The law as it stands leaves a lot of room for interpretation, which is untidy but perhaps necessary to accommodate the wide array of non-profits. I think the playing field should be level, with churches being treated like any other non-profit.

        All 501(c)(3) non-profits should be penalized with the loss of tax exempt status when they stray from within the bounds of the laws governing their activities. I don’t know that being pro or anti-gay is a useful distinction in this regard, even though the latter is often little more than bigotry, IMHO.

        Too many people think that being granted 501(c)(3) status equals approval of an organization’s position(s), or that it legitimizes them. It doesn’t. Not really. And it concerns me that if church tax exemptions are revoked for reasons outside the current rules, tax exemptions for non-religious organizations – such as humanist community groups and others – may also be put at risk.

  11. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Nowhere in the biased media have I seen any mention of how wedding photographers and bakers, by virtue of the work they do–wind up being deeply involved participants in the weddings they provide service for.
    We are on the way to a vast government tyranny whether it is nuns who care for the poor who are under assault or bakers and photographers who are targets for government coercion.
    Freedom used to be the freedom to change churches or send one’s business patronage elsewhere if one wasn’t satisfied .
    Now the game is to use government police and coercive powers to crush and destroy fascistic style people and organizations which will not sell-out their morals or principles;

    • After reading so many of John M. Bresnahan’s comments, I am left wondering if he is a real deacon, and, if so, in what church.

      At any rate, I am not getting any sense out of this comment. What do photographers and bakers have to do with churches paying or not paying taxes?

      No part of any level of government of which I’m aware, has made any effort to interfere with church attendance.

      The term “fascistic” is tossed about rather loosely and, I think, meaninglessly. I do not at all understand its meaning in Bresnahan’s comment other than resembling the name calling that children often do.

    • So I am going to re-enact Jim Crow for the 21st century because of alleged concern for white bigoted wedding service business owners?

      I don’t think so.

    • That puts it succinctly and perfectly, Randy! Anything else is making everyone support all kinds of religions. And that is patently unconstitutional.

      There is so very much that is unconstitutional that is allowed and even practiced by our government that is supposedly formed and bound by the Constitution.

  12. I guess I’m frustrated with the premise of this blog post. Why should Gov. Brewer’s veto of this particular bill lead to the idea that anti-gay churches lose their tax exempt status?

    Arizona doesn’t even protect LGBT people from discrimination exempt for a couple different communities. So Senate Bill 1062 was just a bill looking to stir things up for no reason.

    Even if Arizona did include sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination codes, churches are largely exempt. That’s why Catholic Churches aren’t violating federal and state law for, for example, not hiring women to lead their churches.

    People are so afraid that “Big Gay” is going to force churches and church leaders to command churches to officiate at our weddings.

    Meanwhile, churches right now routinely set their own wedding policies. Why would that change because gays can marry. Iowa has had marriage equality for nearly five years. Other states have had it for over 10. When was the last time you heard of a church being forced to host a wedding? Churches routinely turn away interested gay and lesbian couples here in Iowa. I know because I was the church secretary at my gay-friendly Christian church. Some of the nicer anti-gay pastors referred those couples to our churches or others like it. But they really didn’t even have to do that.

    And yet they maintain their tax exempt status. Five years after legal gay marriage came to Iowa. And despite Iowa actually having a statewide anti-discrimination code that includes sexual orientation.

    These discussions really break my heart. They take an irrational fear and encourage people to chew away at that irrational fear over and over and over. It doesn’t matter that churches can legally turn away marrying couples in this day and age because they are black and that might upset the membership (2012 Missouri — http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/2012/07/church-cancels-wedding-because-couple.html). But somehow “Big Gay” has the power to force churches to lose their tax exempt status for opposing our families.

    If only we were that powerful.

  13. Wow.
    It amazing to me that so many people who claim to be religious Christians can be so UN Christ-like. Could someone please point out to me where in the bible Jesus said that we should persecute others for being gay? Or did he say something more along the lines of “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”?
    First of all, I will say that no church should be forced to perform a ceremony for any reason.
    However, nobody actually needs a church to get married and frankly I don’t know of a single person who would WANT to be married by someone who thought he\she was forced to do so. Trust me, if you think your too good to marry someone, I think your unworthy of marrying them anyways.
    That aside, if you wont perform a ceremony or visit ones birthday party because he\she is gay, that is NOT discrimination, that’s just being a jerk. Being a jerk is not against the law, therefore a church wont lose tax exempt status for being a jerk. Look at WBC they are the biggest jerks ever, but they still have their status.
    However, if your church has a coffee shop, and you refuse to serve someone coffee based on their sexual orientation, or gender identity, then your not only a jerk, but you HAVE discriminated.
    Why is this behavior un-christ-like?
    In Mark 2, soon after calling Matthew to follow Him, Jesus ate a meal with “many publicans and sinners” in Matthew’s house (verse 15). Matthew had been a tax collector, and these were his friends and acquaintances who were now spending time with Jesus. Spending time with the tax collectors and sinners was part of Jesus’ mission: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). He went to where the need was because “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus also transcended culture when He conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well—even His disciples were surprised by that one (John 4:27). Other telling incidents: Jesus forgives an immoral woman in Luke 7, He helps a Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7, He touches a leper in Luke 5, and He enters Zacchaeus’s house in Luke 19. The fact that Jesus saw individuals, not just their labels, no doubt inspired them to know Him better. They recognized Jesus as a righteous man, a man of God—the miracles He performed bore witness to that—and they saw His compassion and sincerity.

    I don’t think homosexuality is a sin, but even if It were, and lets say Jesus were alive today, I don’t believe Jesus would perform a marriage of a gay couple (if he belived it a sin), but I DO believe he would not discrimnate against them and he would most likely be seen walking along with them in the gay pride parade because he would know that is where he could see as many of them at once and he would want to show them that his love was unconditional.

    So how about just stop being jerks regardless of your religious beliefs and start being Christians.

    • oops… Just read through my comment and need to make one correction.
      The following line:
      if you wont perform a ceremony or visit ones birthday party because he\she is gay, that is NOT discrimination, that’s just being a jerk>
      Is incorrect.
      If you wont perform a gay ceremony based on true religious beliefs, thats not being a jerk, no one should be forced to perform a ceremony if they don’t believe in it. However the second part, if you avoid someone based solely on their sexual orientation then you are a jerk.

      • Joe’s need, above, to add a full comment to revise what he wrote earlier is an example of the dire need of Religion News Service to provide and edit choice to those who have written a comment and noticed after its posting something they would like to change. Almost every other comment blog offers that edit option to the writer, why not RNS?

        Even the National Catholic Reporter, before they copied so many bishops recently and stopped comments altogether, making themselves equal in secrecy and one-sidedness to the hierarchy, which I think are the worst evils of the Catholic Church, used to provide the edit option to the writers of its sadly missed comments.

        It is true that some writers make ugly ad hominem comments, but that was supposedly controlled even in the NCR by moderation as is theoretically practiced by the RNS. “Joe,” above, referring to a writer with whom he disagrees as a “jerk” is a case in point. That kind of writing is totally uncalled for and should not be allowed.

        • See what I mean! That should have been “an edit choice” in the second line of my first paragraph, not “and edit choice.” That’s relatively minor as a typo, but things like that should still be able to be corrected with an edit option. Ad hominem writing shouldn’t even be allowed. It is only personal and mean, not at all related to the topic.

      • Well, Joe, the world is sadly full of “jerks.” And they aren’t all “jerks” because they won’t associate with gays–and I’m gay–but because they resort to such mean-spirited, even childish language when confronting those with whom they disagree. Such language certainly does not win us honest and moderate consideration from anyone. In fact, it’s rather like “dropping” to what we consider their lower, less informed and less literate level.

      • @JOE,

        You said, “It amazing to me that so many people who claim to be religious Christians can be so UN Christ-like.”

        But ‘CHRIST-LIKE’ is exactly how they are behaving:

        JESUS didn’t forgive his enemies – he sent them to Hell! (Mark 16:16)
        He cursed his enemies – “Thou Fools!”(Matt. 23:17)
        He stole things – “untie them” ..”bring them to me” (Matt. 21:2-3)
        He destroyed his enemies – “execute them in front of me”(Luke 19:27)
        He didn’t love most of his neighbors, – They are ‘Dogs’! (Matthew 15:26)
        He told people to judge others – “Remove your blessings”! (Matt 10:14)
        He was bigoted – “They are swine” (Matthew 7:6)
        He violently whipped people – attack on the temple (John 2:5)
        He didn’t want peace – “I do not bring peace.”(Matt 10:34)
        He lied to people – “He went in secret” (John 7:8-13)
        JESUS prepared for war – “if you have money, buy a sword” (Luke 22:36-37)

        Don’t believe the hype.
        Jesus didn’t follow his own injunctions.
        Hypocrisy is part of what Christianity MEANS.

        It is duplicitous stuff.

        • Wow, Max, talk about taking things out of context, twisting words, and interpreting things to suit your own purpose! You take the phrase ‘playing fast and loose’ to a whole new level!

          • @Gus,
            Someday I hope you will realize there is no ‘proper context’ for this stuff. That has been the problem for 2000 years.

  14. Churches should never have had tax-free status. They may technically not make a profit–except that one wonders how so many of them can be so magnificent–but the churches themselves perform no common-good service. So they should at least pay for the cost of the public services they receive, like everyone else, or hire private services.

    The free exercise of religion includes the freedom from religion as well as the freedom to practice any religion that does no harm to others. Those who are not religious should never be required to pay for any kind of support of religion or its churches.

  15. Brian Pellot

    Brian Pellot

    Post author

    Let me point out two thing:
    1) All of these questions are “loaded.” That’s intentional to inspire debate. I added the fourth question in an effort to hint at that. Clearly it worked :)
    2) Regarding the title—”After Arizona” is a newsworthy chronological link. It wasn’t meant to imply a correlation between the two issues, although one of the authors quoted does make that connection.

  16. Edward Borges-Silva

    While this is a very thoughtful discussion, there is one glaring point that everyone seems to have missed. It is that whenever the ‘doctrine’ of ‘separation of church and state’ is invoked, it works to the disadvantage of the church and to the benefit of the state. This is a inflexible bias in all it’s applications. When the doctrine occasionally appears to favor the church on an individual case basis, the enemies of the church pour out of the woodwork to declare why it can’t be so. Further, I deny that the phrase is a constitutional precept. Any student of history knows that it originated in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a group of Danbury, Connecticut Baptists, in which the context was that they would have nothing to fear from the Federal government, rather than the reverse.
    The 1st amendment has been totally misconstrued by the modern Supreme Court. But if we are to be bound by the modern interpretation, then the the state must keeps it’s hands off the church…PERIOD. Unless, and only, if there is a risk to life, limb, or to the general public order. Q.E.D.

    • @EDWARD Borges-Silva,
      ‘separation of church and state’…works to the disadvantage of the church and to the benefit of the state.”

      You betcha!

      If a church disintegrates naturally because it doesn’t have the power of the state behind it – then good riddance!

      If a church needs the state in order to survive – then it has overstepped its bounds and it should be taxed out of existence!

      • Edward Borges-Silva

        I have no doubt that soon, perhaps very soon, the hostility of the government towards Christian faith and mores will lead to the very situation you describe and desire, following in the footsteps of officially atheist nations of the recent past. Taxation will be followed by imprisonment, “re-education”, torture and execution. Thus will die the precept of freedom of conscience in Amerika.

        • Edward Borges-Silva

          Be assured Max, the church will survive anything you can throw at it. It has survived over two thousand years, despite the unrelenting hostility of its adversaries. It will survive you, this government, and everyone who rejects the transcendental truth it offers. As I’ve stated before, the church is not perfect, it has flaws, and it does not deny them. I wish there was some way I could get you to understand that Christ is not your enemy, nor are His disciples. We may misunderstand one another, have differing perceptions of what is right and proper, but I do not seek to destroy you..

          • Be assured, Edward, that Atheists have always been here – even before Osiris, Isis, Athena, Aphrodite, Yahweh, or Jesus were ever first imagined…

            And we Atheists will always be here in the future.
            Though thousands of religions have come and gone
            over the millennia, the Atheists have always spoken the truth.

            It is the one truth that has never died. Gods are not real.

  17. I support equal taxation for equal representation. And it appears there are more than enough Senators and Congressman who represent Christians and Jews in the Congress of the US. So, as Jews and Christians (and Muslims to be fair though their representation is just at 2 congressman at present) enjoy such robust representation, let them pay for it…all of them…no exemptions: every Church Mosque and Synagogue. They are defended by our military, their houses of worship are protected by civil police and fire… our governments responds to their requests. Tax them.

    Equal Taxation for equal representation.

    • Ok, John, then let’s not give any tax breaks to any organization, regardless of the organization’s stated purpose. This, of course, will include every charity and non-profit organization in existence in the U.S. — Little League Baseball, the Christian Children’s Fund, Disabled American Veterans, and so on, and so on.

      The problem is not tax breaks. The problem is corrupt politicians making sure their big donor organizations that are set up as non-profits continue to get taken care of.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.