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  1. #1
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    The First Amendment

    The opening section of the First Amendment to the US Constitution reads as follows:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”

    The first part of the sentence (called the Establishment Clause) prohibits the government from establishing a national religion. Pretty straightforward. Occasionally, this gets challenged (creches in public spaces, a paid chaplain in the military) but for the most part, it is not too complicated.

    The second part (called the Free Exercise Clause) is more problematic and is the one where we are left to interpret its full intent. Where are the boundaries? Obviously, on the extreme, something like human sacrifice in the name of religious belief is over the boundary.

    My query: where should those boundaries be set?
    Last edited by Crovash; 05-05-2021 at 02:20 PM.

  2. #2
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    “Prohibiting the free practice thereof” as long as the free practice of your religion does not supersede the other parts of the Constitution, the law, or put others at risk.

    Should be cut and dry. But the 1st Amendment, like all of our laws, is subject to human interpretation and implementation. And humans can always F things up.

  3. #3
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    The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently held that the right to free exercise of religion is not absolute. In the late 1800’s some of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day were convicted of practicing polygamy, and in Reynolds v. United States (1879), the court upheld the convictions, stating that "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices." The court went on to reason that to do otherwise would set precedent for a full range of religious beliefs including those as extreme as human sacrifice.
    Last edited by Crovash; 05-05-2021 at 03:39 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovash View Post
    The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently held that the right to free exercise of religion is not absolute. In the late 1800’s some of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day were convicted of practicing polygamy, and in Reynolds v. United States (1879), the court upheld the convictions, stating that "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices." The court went on to reason that to do otherwise would set precedent for a full range of religious beliefs including those as extreme as human sacrifice.
    Right. Polygamy is against the law. You can’t skirt the law just by proclaiming religious freedom. Until a judge says u can.

  5. #5
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    What about the tax exemption?

    The Methodist minister in my town gets her housing in a tax-exempt home connected to the church. Both the minister and the church pay no property taxes, but get town services — fire, police, town government — not to mention local education for her four children.

    It’s totally legal, but in a roundabout way isn’t it the government imposing certain religions, or at least favoring some over others? After all, I could declare myself minister of some church (I think I’ll call it The Church of What’s Happening Now) and request the same benefits (but I bet I would not get them because my church is not officially recognized).
    Last edited by Crovash; 05-08-2021 at 11:30 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovash View Post
    What about the tax exemption?

    The Methodist minister in my town gets her housing in a tax-exempt home connected to the church. Both the minister and the church pay no property taxes, but get town services — fire, police, town government — not to mention local education for her four children.

    It’s totally legal, but in a roundabout way isn’t it the government imposing certain religions, or at least favoring some over others? After all, I could declare myself minister of some church (I think I’ll call it The Church of What’s Happening Now) and request the same benefits (but I bet I would not get them because my church is not officially recognized).
    So now you’re on to something. It’s understandable why we wouldn’t ask these community gathering centers of faith to pay taxes. But Joel Osteen is no community church, is he?

    Time to start drawing some lives but how? Look at the endless riches hoarded by the Catholic Church. Are we going to start taxing them, too? I do believe the time has come to start asking the question, anyway.

  7. #7
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    There are stipulations an organization must adhere to in order to be designated as tax exempt.
    Certainly, there have been 'fly by nights' that have accomplished this, but it's rare, at least for long.

    If you're wanting to start removing non-profit status from organizations, there will also be massive declines in charitable donations.......and a lot of it from the very people who should be taxed more (the wealthy).

    There are other organizations (such as private universities) who hold MASSIVE funds. Harvard by itself could fund a few small countries.
    gotta love 'referential' treatment

  8. #8
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    Just talking about religious institutions in this thread.

    “Congress has imposed special limitations, found in section 7611 of the Internal Revenue Code PDF, on how and when the IRS may conduct civil tax inquiries and examinations of churches. The IRS may begin a church tax inquiry only if an appropriate high-level Treasury official reasonably believes, on the basis of facts and circumstances recorded in writing, that an organization claiming to be a church or convention or association of churches may not qualify for exemption, may be carrying on an unrelated trade or business (within the meaning of IRC § 513), may otherwise be engaged in taxable activities or may have entered into an IRC § 4958 excess benefit transaction with a disqualified person.”

    https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-pr...audit-a-church

    In other words....

  9. #9
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    Perhaps part of the reason churches are tax exempt and require such strict measures to audit or investigate is because high taxes or frequent investigations could be a way to circumvent the 1st Amendment prohibiting the government from prohibiting the free exercise of religion. If a government wanted to stop a specific religion, they could heavily tax those religious institutions to where they defacto couldn't practice their faith.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by valade16 View Post
    Perhaps part of the reason churches are tax exempt and require such strict measures to audit or investigate is because high taxes or frequent investigations could be a way to circumvent the 1st Amendment prohibiting the government from prohibiting the free exercise of religion. If a government wanted to stop a specific religion, they could heavily tax those religious institutions to where they defacto couldn't practice their faith.
    Quite possibly (though when it comes to congressional intent, I tend to be skeptical).

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