I am reprinting an email received today from the Secular Coalition for America for an action alert.
It was announced yesterday that a commission formed at the request of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to “spearhead an independent national effort” to investigate issues related to tax loopholes for religious organizations is composed exclusively of evangelical Christians — several of whom are directly benefitting from current tax inequalities in our system.
Without representation from independent interests, other religious denominations, and secular nonprofits, there is absolutely no way such a panel can offer objective guidance for much-needed reform of the flagrant tax abuses routinely committed by churches and other religious organizations.
The Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations was designed to investigate issues including whether churches should be required to file similar tax paperwork to other nonprofit organizations, including Form 990; whether legislation is needed to curb flagrant abuses of tax breaks for clergy housing; whether the current prohibition against political campaigning by churches and other nonprofits should be repealed or modified; and, whether legislation is needed to clarify tax rules covering “love offerings” received by some clergy.
Please help SCA protest this blatant conflict of interest by writing to Senator Grassley and Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, telling them to not sell out taxpayers to evangelical interests. Demand that American taxpayers and other voices be included in examining ways to reform religious tax laws.
Isn’t it amazing that folks like Grassley want to allow the foxes to investigate the hen house? It’s like the oil companies investigating offshore drilling or the natural gas industry investigating the the environmental effects of fracking, or allowing Congress to hold ethics investigations on their own members.
The panel of religious sector representatives will include individuals who represent various religious faiths, including, but not necessarily limited to, Protestant Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Judaism and Islam. Special emphasis will be placed on engaging leaders who represent large segments of their respective faith groups.
They claim to be multi-denominational yet all of the named members are evangelical/protestant. (No catholics, no jews, no muslims and certainly no unitarians, agnostics or atheists. I mean they keep claiming that atheism is a religion so we should be able to sit down at the table too. We don’t get housing allowances we have to fill out tons of paperwork on 501(c)3 non-profit documentation.)
Part of the goal of this committee is to make recommendations on whether or not churches will need to provide the same detailed financial documentation as other charities. (I’ve been calling for this for a long time as well as removing the housing allowance and direct funding of religious schools with taxpayer dollars.) I think they are beginning to sense how things are turning and that many people like myself and other secularists are calling for the same accountability and eliminate the longstanding favoritism the religion has enjoyed regarding
tax evasion loopholes.
Now we know that they won’t make a big play for positive press by returning a tax rebate like GE announced, (you don’t get a rebate with an exemption) and the committee is stretched out over three years so don’t expect anything to be done, especially if by some “miracle” of voter manipulation, the GOP takes the Senate and the White House. If that were to happen we will see the further theocratization of America.
So speak up and speak out. If congress seriously wants to do something about our deficit. This is one category that deserves an independent investigation. Or at least bring others to the table and not just those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
- Oppose Federal Funding of Religious Schools (nosacredc0w.wordpress.com)
- House votes to direct $100M in taxpayer dollars to religious private schools (secularnewsdaily.com)
- Sean Faircloth: End Tax Loopholes for Millionaire Ministers (nosacredc0w.wordpress.com)
- Private School Vouchers are NOT Separation of Church and State (hambydammit.wordpress.com)
- Tax-Exempt Ministries Avoid New Regulation (Update) (harlemworldblog.wordpress.com)