Ok, at some point I’ve got to ask: When does the Catholic Church lose their tax-exempt status?
And before you start saying that I’m discriminating against the church, let the record show that I have been very supportive of all views, including those from Catholic leaders, on this blog (here, here, here and here). However, when Archbishop John Nienstedt speaks out publicly at our state Capitol on this issue, I’ve got to challenge it. Here’s what Nienstedt had to say:
I ask all Minnesotans to join us to vote yes on November 6th… This is wonderful sight, to see clergy from … so many different churches, come together and show their support for our basic understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
According to IRS publication 1828: Tax Guide for Churches and Religions Organizations:
Churches and religious organizations, like many other charitable organizations, qualify for exemption from federal income tax under IRC section 501(c)(3) and are generally eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. To qualify for tax-exempt status, such an organization must meet the following requirements (covered in greater detail throughout this publication):
- the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes,
- net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,
- no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,
- the organization may not intervene in political campaigns, and
- the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy
Check out bullets three and four. If Nienstedt’s speaking out publicly in support of the amendment isn’t enough to convince you that the church is violating these bullets, consider the fact that the Catholic Church has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars shipping out DVDs to Catholics how to vote, gone to high schools to talk about why same-sex marriage is “dangerous to society,” told priests not to speak out against the church’s support of the amendment, and they’ve donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to amendment supporters.
Sadly, these are just a few of the many examples of how the Catholic Church has inserted itself into this election as a way to influence voters and legislation. According to the tax code, here’s what should happen to the Catholic Church:
Consequences of Political Campaign Activity
When it participates in political campaign activity, a church or religious organization jeopardizes both its tax-exempt status under IRC section 501(c)(3) and its eligibility to receive tax-deductible contributions. In addition, it may become subject to an excise tax on its political expenditures. This excise tax may be imposed in addition to revocation, or it may be imposed instead of revocation. Also, the church or religious organization should correct the violation
How about we ask the church to spend their money on paying for excise taxes instead of attempting to forever change the Minnesota state constitution and limit the rights of thousands of committed same-sex couples?