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America Spends $71 Billion Annually Subsidizing Tax-Exempt Religion

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A new report by a research team at the University of Tampa finds that tax-exempt religious organizations are subsidized by the U.S. government — meaning, you and me — to the tune of $71 billion each year. As a rule, religious organizations and many of their their employees — such as ministers, priests, rabbis, etc. — can be exempt from paying local, state, and federal taxes, income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, investment taxes, etc.

“What we found suggests that religious institutions, if they were required to pay taxes the same as for-profit corporations do, would not have nearly as much money or influence as they enjoy in America today,” the report, published at the Council for Secular Humanism, states:

Do religions engage in charitable work that addresses the physical needs of the poor? Many do, but that is not their primary focus. Religions are quick to trumpet when they do charitable work—ironically for Christians, since the Bible explicitly says not to (Mathew 6:2). But they don’t do as much charitable work as a lot of people think, and they spend a relatively small percentage of their overall revenue on such work. For instance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church), which regularly trumpets its charitable donations, gave about $1 billion to charitable causes between 1985 and 2008. That may seem like a lot until you divide it by the twenty-three-year time span and realize this church is donating only about 0.7 percent of its annual income. Other religions are more charitable. For instance, the United Methodist Church allocated about 29 percent of its revenues to charitable causes in 2010 (about $62 million of $214 million received). One calculation of the resources expended by 271 U.S. congregations found that, on average, “operating expenses” totaled 71 percent of all the expenditures of religions, much of that going to pay ministers’ salaries. Financial contributions addressing the physical needs of the poor fall within the remaining 29 percent of expenditures. While these numbers may be higher as a percentage of income than typical charitable giving by corporations, they are not hugely higher (depending on the religion) and are substantially lower in absolute terms. Wal-Mart, for instance, gives about $1.75 billion in food aid to charities each year, or twenty-eight times all of the money allotted for charity by the United Methodist Church and almost double what the LDS Church has given in the last twenty-five years.

In other words, you are paying a lot more in taxes to subsidize the salaries of people whose work you may not agree with, and whose work, should it have to be done by the government, in many cases, wouldn’t need to be. How much is $71 billion dollars? A quick Google search returned these findings. The annual budget for the state of Florida. The entire budget — including all the food stamps issued — for the Agriculture Department in 1993. The entire amount the nation of Thailand will spend on infrastructure in the next ten years. Or, this:

The New Bottom Line coalition has estimated that the big banks could write down the principal of underwater mortgages at a one-year cost of $71 billion saving underwater families an average of $543 per month, pumping billions into the economy and creating one million jobs. The banks have the money – this year’s compensation pool is projected to be more than double that.

Considering the heightened political activity religion in America has taken in the past few years alone, including organized and intentional flouting of laws and IRS rules regulating their tax-exempt status, it’s time Americans come to the realization that there is no need for — nor are we in a position to continue to subsidize — tax exemption for religious organizations any longer. To the LGBT community, TaxTheChurches.org writes:

This issue should be a no-brainer for you. You know where all the prejudice, injustice, hatred and discrimination in our culture is rooted, don’t you? The Judeo-Christian bible teaches that you are an “abomination.” Who you love, and how you love, is therefore wrong, abnormal, amoral, unnatural and evil – as opposed to right, normal, natural or good – by virtue of your immoral “choice.” You are demonized by an increasingly intolerant “Christian” culture, and denied basic human rights by these fundamentalist zealots that YOU subsidize with YOUR taxes. Think about this the next time you take a good look at your pay stub or your tax return.

Hat-tip: Zack Ford at Think Progress

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Watch: Texas Republican Opposes Any New Gun Legislation Because We’re Going to ‘Convict’ and ‘Punish’ the Shooters

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A Texas Republican state lawmaker said just one day after 19 elementary school students were shot and killed he opposes any new gun legislation for two reasons: the U.S. Constitution, and under existing laws prosecutors should just “convict” the shooters.

“What we want to know is what your solution is,” CNN host Alisyn Camerota told Rep. James White, who happens to be a former school teacher.

“We’ve all seen how quickly and creatively Texas—your local legislature—can act when it wants to, say, protect the unborn embryo,” Camerota added, referring to Texas’ vigilante abortion ban, as The Daily Beast reported. “Why not act with that alacrity to protect living, breathing 10-year-olds in this school behind me?”

“We have this thing called the Constitution,” White replied, even though the Texas abortion ban, under current law, violates at least the spirit of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and many other Republicans, and like the NRA, White then defended his desire to pass no legislation to help reduce gun violence by declaring the problem is actually one of mental health.

He said, “these young men, for some reason, they have some very disturbed emotional state.”

There is no evidence, according to Gov. Abbott, that this shooter had any documented mental health issues.

White then decided to propose utilizing existing law to reduce gun violence.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “we’re going to look at the people who do these acts, we’re going to convict them, and we’re going to punish them.”

Appearing flabbergasted, Camerota replied, “You can’t convict him, sir.”

“Sir you can’t convict him. He was killed. He was killed, along with 19 children in the school behind me.”

Watch:

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Watch: Video of Beto O’Rourke Confronting Texas GOP Governor and Lt. Gov. Goes Viral

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Democratic former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke approached the stage where top Texas Republicans were holding a press conference following Tuesday’s mass school shooting.

“This is on you,” O’Rourke told Governor Greg Abbott, who is running for re-election against O’Rourke. Abbott was blaming the shooting that left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead on a lack of mental health facilities in Texas, despite having rejected federal aid that would have expanded access in the Lone Star State.

“Sit down and don’t pull this stunt,” Senator Ted Cruz chastised.

But Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, arguably the most powerful person in the room, went ballistic.

“You’re out of line and an embarrassment,” Patrick told O’Rourke.

“You’re doing nothing,” O’Rourke said.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, on stage, loudly called O’Rourke “a sick son of a bitch.”

“He needs to get his ass out of here. Sir, you are out of line. Sir, you are out of line. Sir, you are out of line,” the mayor said, as WFAA reported. “Please leave this auditorium. I cannot believe you are a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.”

“You are doing nothing,” O’Rourke said. “This is totally predictable. You’re all doing nothing.”

“This is on you until you choose to do something about it,” O’Rourke added.

O’Rourke was escorted out of the auditorium by a security guard.

It was not Patrick’s first attack on O’Rourke. In 2019 he used an anti-LGBTQ slur on Fox News to go after the highly-popular Democrat, calling him “light in the loafers.” O’Rourke, as NBC News noted at the time, is heterosexual.

“He is so light in the loafers he floats off the ground at times,” Patrick told Fox’s Laura Ingraham, leading to an advertiser boycott.

After, O’Rourke told reporters the “only thing” Gov. Abbott did “was make it easier to carry a gun in public.”

“And he bragged about the fact that there would be no background check, no training, no vetting whatsoever. He talked about this was evil. The only thing evil is what he continues to do to the people of this state. He says this was unpredictable — it was totally predictable and I predict this will continue to happen when you continue to have a governor who will not stand up for the people of Texas.”

The video below has been viewed 1.2 million times in just over an hour. Other versions have also gone viral.

Watch the video from earlier Wednesday via CNN:

 

 

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As Jan. 6 Rioters Were Chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’ Trump Told Colleagues Maybe They Should: Report

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During the January 6 insurrection as rioters were hunting down the Vice President and chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” with a gallows outside the Capitol building, the President of the United States said maybe they should, his chief of staff Mark Meadows told colleagues in the White House.

“Mr. Meadows, according to an account provided to the House committee investigating Jan. 6,” The New York Times reports, “told the colleagues that Mr. Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hung.”

The New York Times also said that Trump was upset his vice president had been taken away by Secret Service.

Meadows “left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that President Donald J. Trump was complaining that the vice president was being whisked to safety,” The Times notes.

A Trump spokesperson, Taylor Budowich, criticized the House Select Committee but did not deny the claims.

“This partisan committee’s vague ‘leaks,’ anonymous testimony and willingness to alter evidence proves it’s just an extension of the Democrat smear campaign,” he said. “Americans are tired of the Democrat lies and the charades, but, sadly, it’s the only thing they have to offer.”

In November of last year Trump defended the rioters calling for Pence to be hanged.

“Well, the people were very angry he told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, as CNN reported:

 

 

 

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