Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Endangered Species? The Religious Tax Exemption.

In an eye-opening column over at Juicy Ecumenism, Rick Plasterer warns
of the coming battle that religious believers, churches and organizations in the United States will have to fight to in order to maintain the historic policies of tax exemption.

In the introduction to "The Tax Threat to Religious Charities," Plasterer writes, "The wide ranging assault on religious freedom occurring in America under the Obama Administration, and mirrored throughout the western world, currently focuses on the HHS contraceptive/abortifacient mandate, requiring religious institutions that are not houses of worship and businesses owned by objecting religious proprietors to supply goods that violate their consciences."

"But another area of assault, which may become a reality fairly soon, concerns the tax exempt status of religious and other charities."

Plasterer illustrates how the course of this conflict likely will be played out -- in the same way that it has in Great Britain:

...The United Kingdom, where religious charities face aggressively secularist activist groups and a bureaucracy that responds to secularist opinion, may show what lies in store for the United States. In 2006, the U.K. Charities Act removed the presumption that religious charities are for the public benefit, requiring instead that they prove public benefit according to secular standards.

Proposed changes in guidance concerning public benefit provided by the U.K. Charities Commission were analyzed by the Christian Institute legal service organization in Britain in 2008, and found to be open to interpretations of "harm" which would deny charitable status to religious organizations that maintain an opposition to homosexuality. Additional danger to religious charities in the U.K. was also shown by the 2008 Prospects case, in which a Christian charity for the disabled, Prospects, was told by Britain’s Employment Tribunal that it could not maintain a policy of hiring only Christians.

The Barnabas Fund, a British charity that supports Christians persecuted in the Middle East, although ultimately exonerated, was accused of supporting “Islamophobia” and thus being unworthy of charitable status. More recently, the Charities Commission denied charitable status to the Plymouth Brethren, because of their religious doctrine and practice of giving Holy Communion only to church members...

And you were sure it could never happen here, Reverend?

To read the whole article, go here.

And, by the way, this article gives me a reason to again post the Beatles song that was more prescient than any of their other records.