The Mormon Church has forfeited its right to not pay taxes

I don’t often use THCB for direct political protests. I don’t care what the obscure cult known as The Church of Jesus and the Latter Day Saints does in the privacy of its own congregation, even though it (like many other churches) discriminates against all types of people and actively excommunicates homosexuals.

I don’t even care that a group that left the east coast because of the discrimination it faced from people and groups there (including the killing of its founder by an angry mob) has somehow become a bastion of its own bigotry. I don’t even care that many in the Mormon church hypocritically wink at the concept of "non-traditional marriages" so long as they contain one man and many women. And I guess that I don’t care that a group of any kind decides to spend $20 million and organize to influence election results, even if their stance is riddled with bigotry and hatred coded with terms about "defending marriage."

But I do care that as a taxpayer I’m forced to subsidize that activity. The Mormon Church pays no taxes, which means that the rest of us pay more and part of the deal they’ve agreed to is that they are a church and not a political organization.

Well, there’s an easy way to try to do something about it. This is an IRS form pre-completed that you can download, complete and email to the IRS asking that they review and change the Mormon church’s tax-exempt status after its appalling behavior over Proposition 8.

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37 replies »

  1. I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely ddo I come across a blog that’s
    equally educative and engaging, aand let
    me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is something not enough men and women are speaking
    intelligently about. I am very happy I ccame across this during my search for something regarding this.

  2. In the aftermath of the recent election, we may find ourselves oddly on the defensive regarding our support for the Yes on Proposition 8 cause. Our young people have been especially subject to mean-spirited comments by high school friends and teachers. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We did nothing wrong. In fact, we did everything that a civic-minded American can and should do. I have put together a few facts that help me to appreciate our position better. For example:
    1. Mormons make up less than 2 percent of the population of California. There are approximately 800,000 LDS out of a total population of approximately 34 million.Mormon voters were less than 5 percent of the yes vote.
    2. If one estimates that 250,000 LDS are registered voters (the rest being children), then LDS voters made up 4.6 percent of the yes vote and 2.4 percent of the total Proposition 8 vote.
    3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) donated no money to the Yes on 8 campaign. Individual members of the church were encouraged to support the Yes on 8 efforts and, exercising their constitutional right to free speech, donated whatever they felt like donating.
    4. The No on 8 campaign raised more money than the Yes on 8 campaign. Unofficial estimates put No on 8 at $38 million and Yes on 8 at $32 million, making it the most expensive non-presidential election in the country.
    5. Advertising messages for the Yes on 8 campaign are based on case law and real-life situations. The No on 8 supporters have insisted that the Yes on 8 messaging is based on lies. Every Yes on 8 claim is supported.
    6. The majority of our friends and neighbors voted Yes on 8. Los Angeles County voted in favor of Yes on 8. Ventura County voted in favor of Yes on 8.
    7. African-Americans overwhelmingly supported Yes on 8. Exit polls show that 70 percent of black voters chose Yes on 8. This was interesting because the majority of these voters voted for President-elect Obama. No on 8 supporters had assumed that Obama voters would vote No on 8.
    8. The majority of Latino voters voted Yes on 8. Exit polls show that the majority of Latinos supported Yes on 8 and cited religious beliefs (assumed to be primarily Catholic).
    9. The Yes on 8 coalition was a broad spectrum of religious organizations. Catholics, evangelicals, Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Muslims — all supported Yes on 8. It is estimated that there are 10 million Catholics and 10 million Protestants in California. Mormons were a tiny fraction of the population represented by Yes on 8 coalition members.
    10. Not all Mormons voted in favor of Proposition 8. Our faith accords that each person be allowed to choose for him or herself. Church leaders have asked members to treat other members with “civility, respect and love,” despite their differing views.
    11. The church did not violate the principal of separation of church and state. This principle is derived from the First Amendment to the United States’ Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof?” The phrase “separation of church and state”, which does not appear in the Constitution itself, is generally traced to an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson, although it has since been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court in recent years. The LDS Church is under no obligation to refrain from participating in the political process to the extent permitted by law. U.S. election law is very clear that churches may not endorse candidates, but may support issues. The church as always been very careful on this matter and occasionally (not often) chooses to support causes that it feels to be of a moral nature.
    12. Supporters of Proposition 8 did exactly what the Constitution provides for all citizens: they exercised their First Amendment rights to speak out on an issue that concerned them, make contributions to a cause that they support and then vote in the regular electoral process. For the most part, this seems to have been done in an open, fair and civil way. Opponents of 8 have accused supporters of being bigots, liars and worse. The fact is, we simply did what Americans do — we spoke up, we campaigned and we voted.

  3. Where does this fight for “freedom” end? Where is the next line drawn after homosexuals can marry? Are you naive enough to think that is the end? An objective analysis of the long trend in laws relating to issues of morality suggests this is by no mean the end.
    Soon after this “triumph” will arise the push for adults to legally marry minors, polygamy, and many will push for legalization of prostitution. What we now consider obviously morally wrong can be made to look acceptable given enough exposure. Are there any real moral absolutes? You can call it “enlightenment” or “open-minded” to always accept that which others feel is wrong. This is simply spin and manipulation of language.
    James Madison was right when he argued that in a democracy, “personal rights” will grow indefinately while the hunger for freedom will never really be satisfied. Too few recognize this and the path we are on.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the advent of the Government’s Faith-Based Initiatives mean that some of our tax money does get funneled to churches? Isn’t this the complaint of those upset that evangelical groups get contracts to teach AIDS awareness in Africa while refusing to give people condoms, resulting in an untold number of casualties?
    Perhaps it is better to focus our efforts on scrutinizing these programs instead of going after the tax exemption of churches. Because, while I may not be cut out for a lifetime of boring underwear, I’m not about to stand in the way of people who choose to pay for that privilege.

  5. “@Peter: “Seems god’s not doing so well…”
    Actually, I’d say God’s doing fine. We as people, on the other hand…”
    Where can I get a job like god’s, good happens it because of me, bad happens it’s because of you. You spoke about god’s plan, that assumes he’s in control and directing what’s happening – like in Darfur and the Congo. What would the plan there be?

  6. ” .. Looking at the tone of F.A.S.’s comments, it seems he’d be right at home in a get-out-the-hate rally organized by the KKK, Hitler or Sean Hannity ..”
    Ah, yes .. after spitting on black church members, bring out Adolph. What genius — how inspired.
    ” .. Reductio ad Hitlerum, also argumentum ad Hitlerum, or reductio (or argumentum) ad Nazium – dog Latin for “reduction (or argument) to Adolf Hitler (or the Nazis)” – is a modern informal fallacy in logic. The name is a pun on reductio ad absurdum. It is a variety of both questionable cause and association fallacy ..”
    Sir, take a good look in the mirror. The authentic hater is there. Shame on you and your kind of mendacious deceiver.

  7. Chris P,
    Right on. Looking at the tone of F.A.S.’s comments, it seems he’d be right at home in a get-out-the-hate rally organized by the KKK, Hitler or Sean Hannity. It has that same hostile, aggressive, baiting stridancy that would probably make Jesus himself cringe.
    If that’s indicative of the the tone inside Mormon Temples these days, count me out.
    And given how much of that tone has surfaced in the wake of this decision, I think plenty of people (specifically, more than enough to reverse the decision at the polling booth) have realized that this is really an issue with dubious religious claims getting legal precidence over Constitutional principle. Even if many people don’t care one way or the other about gay issues, they do care about misguided fundamentalists re-writing the laws for everybody – especally when the fundementalists don’t have much respect for the religious rules they claim to represent.
    As Peter pointed out, the oft quoted prohibition against homosexuality can be found in Leviticus (20:13) – right above the part where it says children who curse their parents shall be put to death (20:18), that slavery is generally okay, provided you follow certain limitations (20:44-55), but clipping the edge of your beard is just not allowed (19:27).
    Of course, Jesus himself told the Pharisees that none of these laws had any value, now that he had arrived with the Gospel. Guidance regarding sex was limited to expectation to ‘not be promiscuous’. That still leaves plenty of room for interpretation, but it’s hard to see how this can be extended to an outright condemnation of homosexuality, and a basis not only for excommunication, but for the revocation of legal rights as well.
    Perhaps those who still consider being gay a ‘lifestyle choice’ (and an immoral one at that) can still muster a sliver of self-justification. But the basis for institutional bigotry is getting thin. And now that the general public has seen the true colors of this movement, and its fundamentally un-American quality, the tide may be turning for good.
    I suspect the ‘victory’ of Prop. 8’s passage will prove to be a Pyrrhic one. At which point gay couples can start to enjoy the same health and well-being that marriage offers their straight counterparts.

  8. @Peter: “Seems god’s not doing so well…”
    Actually, I’d say God’s doing fine. We as people, on the other hand…
    @Alex: Your link didn’t come through. I’d like to read it, though, so if you have time, please post it.
    @Chris: “that Mormons do not practice the Golden Rule says a lot about their faith”
    I’m not sure you say that in the context of Prop 8. Of course, nobody wants to be told what they’re doing is wrong, Mormons or non-Mormons alike. We’re voting according to our beliefs, a right we vigorously defend for ourselves and others. Again, I encourage anybody not happy with the election to work to change the outcome. So, I’m not sure where this “Mormons don’t practice the Golden Rule” nonsense comes from.
    Of course, on an individual basis, we all make mistakes, certainly I do. So, yes, there are times when I don’t practice the Golden Rule but I try to minimize those times as much as possible.

  9. I want Mormon children to marry the person that they love.
    When Mormon parents think this is a bad idea, I will point to the Capulet and Montague families to see if they want that kind of ending.
    Tax exemption is not the way to fight this. Reminding people that Mormons do not practice the Golden Rule says a lot about their faith.

  10. “since gay civil unions are allowed”
    Not in Florida with passage of Amendment 2. David, there are a lot of issues, we’re just devoting this one part of the Healthcare Blog to gay marriage. We’ll get back to smoking at some point and other health topics. But you are right, there is more noise about this issue than most others on this blog. Maybe we should make gays responsible for preventing universal healthcare, that way we could get the Morman Church (and black churches) fired up about the issue too.

  11. While this is an important issue and it is being addressed with Web 2.0 technology, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/14/gay-rights-activists-use-web-to-organize-global-rally/
    , I only wish this much attention would be dedicated to fighting the tobacco lobby by mimicing legislation passed by Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York City. He has reduced the teen smoking rate to 8.5% from 20 to 23% nationwide and helped 200,000 adults to quit smoking. This was done by raising taxes so that a pack costs about $10, enforcing the law prohibiting minors from purchasing cigarettes, aggressive anti-smoking ads, free nicotine replacement patches.
    According to Dr. Leonard S. Miller of UC Berkeley about 12% of health care costs (or about $250 billion last year) were attributable to smoking. Information on Tobacco Free Kids http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/
    states that there are 1,000 miscarriages a year from smoking. Children suffer from asthma from smoking adults.
    Yet, few people seem to care about adopting Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative nationwide (incidentally he has donated $375 million [and Bill Gates an additional $125 million] for WHO to help fight smoking in the poorest of nations).
    Why can’t we generate this much noise to ensure that the law is strictly enforced so that minors cannot buy cigarettes and get addicted to them? Certainly this is by far more important than gay marriages (since gay civil unions are allowed).
    Why don’t we mimic the Gay marriage movement listed in the New York Times article above for protecting our young from having access to cigarettes?

  12. “…I believe that the family is central to God’s plan for our happiness. That children are entitled to being raised by a mother and a father, who have made a marriage commitment to each other (and, by extension, their kids). And because I believe that homosexuality attempts to mimic the divinely-sanctioned institution of marriage but instead offers only a hollow imitation of divinity that spiritually harms its adherents spiritually.”
    Stats for 2005:
    Number of marriages: 2,230,000
    Marriage rate: 7.5 per 1,000 total population
    Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 population (46 reporting States and D.C.)
    Seems god’s not doing so well and he also has a happiness plan for divorce lawyers. What was god’s plan when bi-racial marriages were outlawed?

    “@F.A.S.: What’s your deal with the black people?”
    Hey, pal — there’s no “deal.” Only hypocrisy — liberal Democrats attacking the Mormon church.
    (Which, BTW, was NOT DIRECTLY involved. As if facts mattered — it was MORMONS.)
    Yet — those “lib-burr-als” are NEVER televised, shouting at BLACK church members.
    Why? Is it because black church members are NOT afraid to push back spittle-spewing miscreants?

  14. m,
    All other points in your argument aside, when it comes to one of you basic premises – that civil unions and marriage are equal in everything but name – you are simply incorrect.
    Please see here for details.
    As an aside, I never compared the plight of homosexuals to that of slaves. Slaves, quite obviously, had no rights at all. Gay people have many rights – but not as many as straight people.
    And that’s because, like the 3/5th rule before it, our current legal arrangement diminishes the full human value of gay people. It does so by thwarting their desire to marry according to their natural sexual orientation, and to gain a range of protections from the vicissitudes of life that are enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.
    According to you, that’s fine – gay marriage isn’t a part of God’s Plan, and gay parents harm kids.
    But surly you must concede that there has never been an expectation that marriage protections, when granted to heterosexual couples, are contingent on their faith, or their actually raising children. After all, childless atheists are as secure in their ability to stay married as anyone else (except gay people, of course).
    So, out of curiosity, and now knowing that civil unions are a far cry for actual marriage, would you be willing to accept truly equal partnership rights for people outside your faith if you could limit child rearing to heterosexual couples only?
    Or are you simply opposed to the idea of gay couples entering life partnerships with the same rights and responsibilities with regard to each other as those granted to straight couples?

  15. @Matthew: “It’s my blog and I’ll write what I like!”
    Amen. My comment was only about the quality of your thought, not the location. I applaud your attitude!
    “there are lots of practices of Mormonism that are very odd”
    True, but odd practices don’t define a cult, either. Webster’s defines a cult as:
    1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
    3. the object of such devotion.
    4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
    5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
    6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
    7. the members of such a religion or sect.
    8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.
    Any religion meets items 1-5. You seem to imply 6-7 (maybe 8). Unfortunately (for you), none of these imply. Mormons certainly live in conventional society and are in no way extremist. Our leader’s charisma is pretty irrelevant (although he’s a pretty funny guy).
    Again, facts first!

  16. @F.A.S.: What’s your deal with the black people? Why does it matter if blacks, whites, Mormons, Jews or anybody else supported Prop 8. 52% of Californians, whoever they are, supported it. Black people have the right to express themselves just like anybody else.

  17. @Alex: You seem to think that not allowing gays to married implies some sort of inequality. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If I, a straight man, show up to the state and ask to marry a man, I will be denied. So would you and every other man who asks to marry another man. If a gay man brought a woman and asked to marry her, he could. There’s no discrimination there.
    The reason the state gets to do that is because it’s being asked to recognize the marriage. That makes marriage a privilege, not a right. Which means the state gets to set the rules around it. And, while you think this isn’t the case, in CA they have a proposition system that allows the majority to decide if something becomes a law (or a Constitutional amendment). If you don’t like that, get your lawmakers to change it.
    Also, you suggest Mormons are trying to take away people’s free speech rights. Unfortunately, your point is diminished by the fact that hundreds of homosexuals are currently protesting the decision of 52% of Californians. They’re also trying to have the free speech of 52% of Californians overruled by the Supreme Court. Who’s limiting free speech?
    Also, you compare the plight of the homosexual to the plight of the slaves. I find that incredibly offensive and insensitive. I’ve heard stories about black women in the early 1900’s who had their fingernails pulled off because they wore nail polish like white women and that’s some of the less horrifying stories I’ve heard. I cannot believe you would be so thoughtless as to compare the fact that homosexuals have to suffer the indignity of “unions” instead of “marriage”, despite the fact that they have the same rights under either.
    Finally, underlying your entire response is the idea that religion has no place in the law. This is simply not true. Voters vote according to their beliefs, religious, secular or otherwise. You cannot ask, nor expect, a voter to take one part of his beliefs and check them at the voting booth. Not only is it not possible, it’s not right. My religious beliefs help define who I am and I have the right to vote according to my beliefs, ALL of my beliefs. Telling me my religious beliefs are of no value in defining the way I vote is the most discriminatory principle I’ve heard.
    The left has done a good job of trying to equate the expression of religion with the establishment of religion. Unfortunately, not only is this inaccurate, it goes against the very reason this country was founded…to build a nation where people could express their religious beliefs freely, including in their voting decisions.
    With that in mind, I’ll tell you why I support Proposition 8. It’s because I believe that the family is central to God’s plan for our happiness. That children are entitled to being raised by a mother and a father, who have made a marriage commitment to each other (and, by extension, their kids). And because I believe that homosexuality attempts to mimic the divinely-sanctioned institution of marriage but instead offers only a hollow imitation of divinity that spiritually harms its adherents spiritually.
    While the harm of such actions may not be readily apparent, I believe they one day will be, either in this life or the next one. And I could not, in good conscience, support the state’s recognition of something I believe will ultimately harm another person. While I support the right of people to express themselves in any way they want, even at their own peril, I do not believe the state has to sanction it.
    You may disagree with my logic or beliefs, but this nation was founded on the principle that both you and I could disagree and still express our views, both in writing and in the voting booth. And it’s time religious people stopped letting themselves be told they can’t vote according to all their beliefs, whatever they are.

  18. Well if you want to spread the blame I’m happy to make any church ineligible for tax preferred status, and I’m appalled at Obama’s mealy mouthed approach on this issue.
    And as for Mormonism being a cult? I was unaware size mattered. (My wife swears it doesnt)… but there are lots of practices of Mormonism that are very odd — ask one to explain to you if women can ascend to the central part of heaven. But then again I’m an atheist who believes that all religions are straight after your wallet, and as I say I really dont care. I only care that I dont have to subsidize it.
    And if you dont want me to write about this on my blog; tough. It’s my blog and I’ll write what I like!

    ” .. The Mormon Church is not the only group being singled out for criticism. African Americans, 70% of whom voted yes on Prop. 8, according to a CNN exit poll, have become a target. According to eyewitness reports published on the Internet, racial epithets have been used against African Americans at protests in California — with some even directed at blacks who are fighting to repeal Prop. 8 ..”
    Liberals hating black church members for their religious beliefs. How sad.

  20. Laura,
    I agree that this post is quite far from the norm here, and that some of the language is less than constructive (okay, a lot less). But that doesn’t mean the topic itself is entirely irrelevant.
    After all, there is a significant connection with health care in that the legal definition of marriage can have a significant impact on an individual’s access to the health care system in general, as well as the rights of those closest to people who reach the ends of their lives within it.
    I seems this point has been overshadowed in much of the coverage surrounding the post-election issues, but in terms of places where the bite of unequal rights is felt most sharply, I suspect shared health plans and hospital bedsides are on the very short list.
    In fact, if there’s a single flashpoint in this issue that rises above all others, it may be the one found at the place where the current law and health care intersect. Like Jim Crow laws, the issue is about a lot more than who gets to sit where on the bus, and departs from this blog’s purview pretty swiftly. Like so many problems in American life, inequities in the health care system is simply the thing that causes trouble to start.

  21. Brilliant link, Peter. Since our friend F.A.S. is clearly concerned with facts (and not just my spelling errors) I wonder if he’ll appreciate it too.
    Sadly, I suspect not. Regardless, yours is an excellent point, and one that can’t be made often enough. If this H8 fiasco serves the larger purpose of spotlighting exactly how unfounded the ‘Christian’ bigotry about gays really is, then perhaps the church itself will begin to heal a very old, deep, and self-inflicted wound.
    This matters, because M.D. is exactly right – persuading these ‘believers’ to take a closer look at the Bible isn’t something anyone outside their congregations can do. That’s a job for church leadership, and the sooner it gets started, the better off their members – and organizations – will be.
    In the meantime, we’ll have to rely on the US Constitution to provide protection for universal human dignity. Happily, it’s seen more serious challenges than this. For instance, when the Supreme Court struck down prohibitions against interracial marriage, some 80% of voters were profoundly opposed to the ruling, considered the practice an abomination against God and Nature, and an invitation to moral cataclysm.
    Nevertheless, the Constitution’s commitment to absolute equality overruled a majority committed to bigoted discrimination, and deeply misguided readings of Scripture. A couple of generations later, we have Obama.
    God bless America.

  22. I really like this site because it addresses current health care issues that should be debated, discussed and reviwed. There are many sites out there that address the prop 8 issue if you want to get in that fracas. I appluad Matt for being active in the cause because freedom of speech is one of our greatest rights but I would prefer if this site focused on healthcare; especially the reform issues now at hand. And throwing around words like “cult” at the Mormon church is a little harsh. Look at your history and pretty much every major religion was considered a cult at some point. And sadly a lot are biased against homosexuality; not just Mormons. Last I checked..Catholics, Muslims, Evangelicals, Adventists etc..

  23. ” .. Their leadership may not have realized this at the time, but that $20 million was the purchace (sic) price for the tallest lightening rod in the field ..”
    Last time I checked, only humans who are LEGAL USA citizens could vote in U.S. elections. Not dollar bills.
    INCONVENIENT FACT: BLACK church members voted FOR Prop. 8. Period.
    And what did BHO do, to dissuade BLACK church members from voting FOR Prop. 8? Nada. Zilch. Called it “a state issue.” Well — BLACK Californians voted — why not target them?
    Check your facts. It would serve you well. Have a nice day, after you do your homework.

  24. Peter;
    I am looking at the issue in a more broad sense than the choice denied by proposition 8, and trying to make the point that one’s sexual orientation is like having a certain hair color, or any other physiological characteristic. In another 250 years, should the human species be lucky enough to survive so long, homosexuality will be just another non issue.
    But I should know better than to even try to persuade certain religious people of anything at all – the only issue to have survived unchanged for over 2000 years is religious persecution……

  25. I kinda like this web site: http://www.fallwell.com/verses.html
    Bev, I don’t think it should matter if this is choice or nature – don’t Americans want choice? Although it would be hard for the church to disagree with this if you could prove “god” made people this way, although it would probably take several hundred years for them to accept it, like it took the Catholic Church to realize and admit that Galileo was right. This is not a religious issue, gays don’t want to be married in the Morman or Catholic churches, they’d be happy with civil ceremonies. Marriage is first a civil and legal matter, that’s why you need the license first and the minister next. That’s why you need a court to divorce not the church. I have suggested gays start their own church, then they could argue freedom of religion – although that doesn’t work for Mormans (and others) who want more than one wife. Why anyone would want more than one wife I don’t know, I’m having too much trouble with the one I’ve got.

  26. F.A.S.
    The CLDS has received special approbation because of their role as a prime mover in the funding and organization of the Prop 8 campaign. They were, by no means, the only participants in this watershed event, or even its originators. But their involvement was the deciding factor.
    Their leadership may not have realized this at the time, but that $20 million was the purchace price for the tallest lightening rod in the field.

  27. m,
    While I applaud your principled stance, I have to ask, by what right do you think it’s reasonable to demand that the law reflect your own beliefs when the imposition of that law would end up diminishing the rights of people who (a) pay taxes like everyone else and (b) have not committed any crime that subjects them to a loss of rights by due process?
    The only position you can take that reconciles your duties as a Mormon and an American is to state that if marriage IS truly sacred, that it it’s status as a purely religious institution means it has no place as a basis for special privileges granted by a secular, non-denominational state.
    But by asserting that marriage has both an absolute religious component (i.e. it can only be defined in terms acceptable to certain established religions) and an inalienable component that grants special legal rights enforceable by the state, you make the classic mistake of trying to have your cake and eat it.
    In this regard, you’re not unlike the leaders of slave states who didn’t like the idea of black people not counting at all when it came time to create congressional seats, and wanted a ‘compromise’ that would allow black people to bolster the power of Confederate states in Congress, without actually giving those people any power of their own. You go on to accuse this blog’s author of valuing free speech but only when he agrees with it. But you have no problem in pushing for discriminatory treatment, provided it’s aimed at people you consider morally reprehensible. Pot, meet kettle.
    The reality is that stable, committed life partnerships are good for people – gay and straight alike. Even with divorce rates factored in, there is a direct correlation between being married, and longevity, health, and general well-being. That’s a function of the institution itself, not the sexuality of the participants. It’s simply a matter of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – nothing more, nothing less. And the state has plenty of interest in seeing gay couples marry as well, for all the same reasons – even those that don’t plan on raising children or having their marriages sanctified in a church. Happy, healthy people are a good thing in their own right.
    It’s about time people like you stopped thinking of yourselves as Mormons first (or Catholics, or Baptists, or whatever) and as Americans second. You need to think of yourselves as Americans first and foremost, because only in this country – under the constitution we all share – are you granted the inalienable right to freely practice your own religion in the first place.
    And before you get into this ‘will of the people’ nonsense, you need to remember that America is not a pure democracy – it is a constitutional republic, which means that it will actively campaign against the will of a majority if that majority has dedicated itself the oppression and disenfranchisement of targeted individuals. Your defense of the lynch mob’s ‘might makes right’ view of democracy is an un-American as your veiled contempt for this nation’s founding principles of legal equality for everybody.
    Remember, too, that a major component of Prop 8’s loss was complacency. Americans committed to our most fundamental constitutional ideals had failed to appreciate that, in this day and age, some established churches could be so blind that they would openly attack a core principle of American democracy – and find enough people who support this mission to win a majority. I assure you, this entire exercise has been a real eye opener. Like the terrorists who attacked New York on 9/11, you took a one time shot. It is virtually certain that this tack won’t work again.
    A final note – you will note that I’ve not spoken aginst any religion here, nor have I said anything derogatory about the members of any religion, or what they believe. I have simply taken you to task for being fundementally un-American in your failure to treat others with the same respect that the constitution accords you. The fact that you do this in the name of your religion is a discredit to both yourself and your church – in the same way that the Ku Klux Klan’s insistance that they are a ‘Christian’ organization does no favors to Christanity, or Al-Quaida’s insistance that they are acting in the name of Allah does no favors to Islam.
    And Mr. Holt – thank you for having the nerve to bring this up. Again, I refer to the well documented health advantages that married couples tend to enjoy. Any policy that threatens the well-being of millions of citizens is absolutly in line with your larger aims for this blog.
    Bravo. And No on 8.

    Inconvenient fact: Prop. 8 in Calif. was DEFEATED by BLACK church members — there are many-more-times BLACK church members than MORMON church members. Get a calculator. Do the math.
    Why no attack on BLACK churches, sir?
    Because they are not WHITE?
    Liberal hypocrites.

  29. I too am a bit surprised that Matthew has had the courage (and the gazongas) to address this issue in his blog. And as someone with a gay relative, I say rock on, Matthew! Being gay is not a “lifestyle choice” – and eventually medical science will prove this, just as so many other ancient superstitions and taboos have been scientifically disproven. (Anyone remember Galileo?)
    However, I have to agree with commenters’ points that, really, the entire concept of nonprofit and therefore tax-exempt organizations needs to be re-examined. I think some hospitals are just as egregious examples as any church.

  30. – “the obscure cult” – Actually, there are more Mormons in the US than Jews. Over 13.1 million, worldwide. Hardly the definition of obscure or a cult.
    – “discriminates against all types of people” – simply not true. We have religious standards that are applied the same to all people who join the Church.
    – “actively excommunicates homosexuals” – Yup. See above. Violate the principles of the Church, there is discipline involved.
    – “many in the Mormon church hypocritically wink at the concept of “non-traditional marriages” so long as they contain one man and many women” – Again, not true. Anybody found practicing polygamy in the Church is excommunicated. See two above.
    – “a group of any kind decides to spend $20 million and organize to influence election results” – You imply the Church spent $20 million to get Prop 8 passed. Also not true. The Church MEMBERS spent that, the Church itself did not.
    Ever heard of something called the 1st Amendment? It guarantees free speech. I realize you’re a lefty and, therefore, a supporter of only free speech you agree with, but until you get a constitutional amendment passed outlawing speech you disagree with, you have to put up with opinions from both sides. Inconvenient, I know, but such is life.
    You should probably stick to healthcare analysis. Your political analysis is lacking…

  31. I agree with Ray. It’s a very reasonable suggestion to say that all 501c3’s, including non-profit hospitals should either pay taxes or at the least be forced to really prove that they’re doing charitable work. In fact certain Senators (Grassley et al) are right now looking into that.
    And SLC may be that the Mormons weren’t breaking the rules. That doesn’t mean that rules can’t be changed and behaviors cannot be interpreted differently by agencies and judges. That too is part of the American political process. (And for example the Sierra Club is not tax-exempt for this very reason)
    But anyone who believes that giving one group a tax exemption does not mean that others without that exemption do not pay more tax obviously missed the day that their High School held math class.
    In addition, if an individual gave money to a political campaign they are paying in post tax dollars. Wheras a non-proft is paying in pre-tax dollars. I guess if you believe that’s fair you believe that separate but equal is quite OK too. As did the last pro-Prop 8-er I met.
    And the language from “debbie” & “tits” show their true colors. We’re back to ranting about “welfare moms” (and what color skin do they have in “debbie”‘s mind I wonder) and “homos”.
    And “tits” if as you say the Mormons dont care what gay people do, why did they spend $20 million dollars to stop them having the basic human right that Mormons have? Don’t delude yourself.
    If this was forty years ago I’ll bet a nickel that “debbie” & “tits” would have been happy to maintain bans on interracial marriage, blacks voting, and who knows…cheering on the guys riding around in white suits and hoods?

  32. Matt, althought I was against Prop 8 and support the wide separation of chuch and state (too close in the Bush Regime), would your solution apply to this group?
    I think we all want the churches on the right side of issues, too many choose ignorance and hate over understanding and enlightenment. We just need them to see the light, rather than block it out. Does a church that invites Obama to speak and not McCain, deserve to have it’s tax free status revoked?
    By the way tax free can mean lost revenue. Churches in my neighborhood take up land that could otherwise generate property taxes, and there is no mechanism to judge whether the churches “give back” to the community in ways that compensate for lost taxes, other than just increase their own congregation and their minister’s wealth.

  33. Are you kidding? You honestly think that some of the tax dollars you paid were used by the FLDS church to “organize and influence election results”? I think not. Your terribly transparent rant about this group is clearly centered around your disagreement with their position on Proposition 8 and their effort to influence public policy rather than on any rational argument about tax-exemption status or “subsidies”.
    You suggest you don’t “care” about what the Mormon church “does in the privacy of its own congregation”. I’d suggest that the Mormons, in addition to the majority of Californians (and US Citizens for that matter), would echo that sentiment back toward the homosexual community.
    Matthew, generally I like your stuff, but this blog entry was weak. Drop the homo-sympathizer, Prop 8 “sore-loser” routine and get back to writing about health care.

  34. Matt, although debbie is right that a tax exemption is not the same as a subsidy, I can understand your anger.
    The truth is, if non-profits are in general going to be tax-exempt, then there’s no clear unbiased principle you can use to decide that some of them should pay taxes. If the mormon church should pay, then so should all DC think tanks, nonprofit health plans and hospitals, and others.
    Maybe it’s worth considering whether everyone should pay taxes, including nonprofits. Or the opposite: no one should pay taxes.

  35. You have got to be joking. Subsidizing means that taxes are taken from the public and then given to an entity/ individual to make certain choices. For example, taxes are paid by the American public and given to welfare moms through AFDC and other forms of direct monetary assistance to continue to create out of wedlock children that should be paid for by their fathers, but are now the tax burden of the American public. A tax exemption simply means that an entity is not taxed because the benefit that organization provides is considered a public good. For example, I may not agree with American Way or many of its political positions, but I am not subsidizing it because it enjoys a 501c(3) tax exemption status. Get your terminology right and stop misinforming your audience Matthew Holt.

  36. It would appear they were well within their right and I doubt they will have any sanctions against them. Take a look at this link (http://www.irs.treas.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=154712,00.html) Some relevant quotes:
    “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
    “Under federal tax law, section 501(c)(3) organizations may take positions on public policy issues…”
    I’m not saying that to argue because I think each state really needs to resolve this issue, but it would appear that every 501c3 corp can be involved in this debate whether they are for or against.

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