Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

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Congress, don't tax giving: Charity helps people while saving government costs

Philanthropy Daily commentary by Jonathan Imbody

September 7, 2017

Congress is currently contemplating a plan that would trigger a drop in charitable giving of $13.1 billion annually, according to research analysis. The cuts would come from decreasing current incentives for charitable gifts through tax deductions. Unfortunately for Congressional leaders focused on trimming government spending, charity losses will simply trigger corresponding increases in spending on government social programs, to pick up the slack left by hobbled charities no longer able to provide social services. That potential transfer of responsibility and expense from charities to government should remind lawmakers why historically Congress has not taxed citizens when we give our money away to help others.

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Religious freedom 2.0: An executive order short on orders commentary by Richard Doerflinger

May 10, 2017

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not endorse or oppose candidates. But some have claimed the church should lose its tax-exempt status, citing the bishops' "faithful citizenship" documents and other statements explaining moral issues Catholic voters should consider. Beginning in 1980, such a claim by the group "Abortion Rights Mobilization" tied up the bishops in court for a decade. This order tells the IRS to go after what the Johnson amendment actually forbids, instead of infringing on churches' legitimate freedoms. And that is worthwhile. The executive order does not do what some hoped and others feared, but it does some good. It should be welcomed as a good start, but more is needed.

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FRC Washington Update

From the IRS, Clarity on Charity

January 7, 2016

Common sense isn't exactly a common theme at the IRS. But the year is off to a surprisingly good start at Americans' least favorite agency now that officials have put the kibosh on a ridiculous charitable donation idea. Early last month, we told you about a worrisome new proposal from the IRS that would give 501(c)(3) organizations (like FRC) "the option" of doing away with their written acknowledgements of donations over $250 and consider sending all of their donors' personal information to the agency instead. For several reasons -- not the least of which is the IRS's horrible track record of data leaks and political harassment -- nonprofits of all stripes strenuously objected, arguing that it wouldn't be long until this "optional system" became mandatory.

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Taxing Churches Would Marry Church And State

The Federalist - commentary by Paul DeHart and Kevin Stuart

October 1, 2015

To tax someone or something is to exercise sovereign power over that person or thing. But then, quite obviously, any state or federal taxation of churches or religious organizations would constitute an exercise of sovereignty by the state over the church-that is, over religion. To maintain that government has the power to tax religious organizations is to affirm the sovereignty of state over church. To affirm that proposition is to reject any meaningful distinction-much less separation-between church and state. In short, those who advocate the right of the state to tax religious organizations are abandoning the separation of church and state.

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Tax Exemption for Churches: An American Value, a Social Imperative

Family Research Council commentary by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 13, 2015

Tax exemption for churches protects religious entities from the state. Giving government authority to tax religious entities not only breaches the protective wall of separation that guards the church from the state, but effectively knocks that wall down. Religious values have long infused American public life and law, yet as institutions, church and state are distinct institutionally. Giving any government, whether federal, state, or local, the legal authority to tax property belonging to religious entities is only a first step toward making churches institutionally subservient to that government.

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IRS chief outlines process of revoking tax-exemption of faith-based schools

Video - Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing

July 29, 2015

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, under questioning by Sen. Mike Lee: "We would issue a regulation...for public comment. There would be no surprises. In other words, we're not sneaking up on anybody. Down the road, if the IRS ever moves in that would first issue a draft regulation. And that's not going to happen in the next two-and-a-half years."

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Legal Group Asks IRS to Release Docs in Atheist Settlement to Investigate Churches

Christian News

August 3, 2014

But the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says that the public deserves to know what procedures the IRS has set in place as to who will be investigated and how. "Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups," said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. "We are asking the IRS to disclose the new protocols and procedures it apparently adopted for determining whether to investigate churches. What it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day."

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We Need a Real Women's Agenda, Not Government-Funded Abortion

Public Discourse commentary by Helen Alvare

January 13, 2014

I make two main points: first, that neither American lawmakers nor citizens, especially women, understand abortion as a public good meriting funding. And second, that abortion is not a part of any genuine "women's health" agenda according to the federal government's own statements.

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Stop your taxes from subsidizing abortions - support No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

January 10, 2014

This bill simply extends a long-held principle favored by most Americans--that our tax dollars should not fund abortions, which continue to divide our nation while denying the right to life to over a million babies a year. Since abortion rights advocates insist that abortion should be a personal choice free from government involvement, let them follow through on that assertion by keeping our tax dollars out of that choice.

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Report argues for lifting ban on politics from the pulpit

Washington Post

August 13, 2013

A new report by a group of faith leaders working closely with Capitol Hill argues for ending the decades-old ban on explicit clergy endorsements. More than 1,100 mostly conservative Christian pastors for the past few springs have been explicitly preaching politics - they call the annual event "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" - in an effort to lure the Internal Revenue Service into a court showdown. The report argues that the ban chills free speech and violates the culture of people who see the weaving of faith and political expression as essential to their religious practice.


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New Faith in Giving coalition

Stanley Carlson-Thies in IRFA

July 23, 2013

Faith-based service organizations, like other nonprofits, are dependent on private giving and thus count on tax incentives for giving, such as the federal deduction for charitable contributions. And yet, because they are religious organizations, they may have distinct interests in the big fight that has broken out in Washington DC and in state and local politics concerning tax breaks for donations and tax breaks for nonprofits themselves. That's the premise of a new coalition just forming, tentatively called the "faith in giving" coalition.

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Religious Charities Ask Congress To Save Charitable Deduction in Tax Overhaul

Chronicle of Philanthropy

July 22, 2013

Members of a newly formed coalition of religious charities visited Capitol Hill last week to persuade members of the Senate to back the charitable deduction as they draft recommendations for a massive federal tax overhaul that must be submitted by Friday. The coalition was formed two months ago by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and the National Christian Foundation. Its members include such groups as the National Association of Evangelicals, Salvation Army, and World Vision. Jonathan Imbody, vice president of the Christian Medical Association, said his organization had not previously lobbied to protect the charitable deduction. But the approach taken by Mr. Baucus and Mr. Hatch spurred his group to join the coalition. "When you read the letter that says they're starting with a blank slate," Mr. Imbody said, "that's enough to get you going.

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