Connect with us

News

America Spends $71 Billion Annually Subsidizing Tax-Exempt Religion

Published

on

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

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

‘Oddest’: Legal Experts Mock Trump’s ‘Nutty’ and ‘Doomed to Fail’ Emergency Supreme Court Motion

Published

on

It weighs in at 240 pages but legal experts are still mocking Donald Trump’s emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an 11th Circuit Court ruling and allow the special master to continue to inspect the 103 classified documents retrieved from him Mar-a-Lago home.

“Oddest SCOTUS petition. Very technical and not terribly logical,” observed Andrew Weissmann, an NYU School of Law law professor and former DOJ official who served as the General Counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and as special counsel to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The motion was addressed to Justice Clarence Thomas,  who oversees the 11th Circuit courts. His wife, Ginni Thomas, is an avowed supporter of Trump and his “Big Lie” claims he won the 2020 election.

READ MORE: Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene for Him in Classified Documents Case

“SCOTUS should send him packing,” tweets former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now an MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst. “No surprise here, this was why he paid former Florida Solicitor General Chris Kise $3 million to sign on, no one else on his team could handle this.”

“Just watch SCOTUS turn Trump down 9-0. (Or 8-1 if Thomas dissents . . . ),” writes retired Harvard professor of law Laurence Tribe. “Will The Donald start calling ‘his’ three justices traitors? Will he say they have a ‘death wish’ as he did with McConnell?”

Weissmann took another hit at Trump’s Lawsuit, declaring it “nutty.”

“Trump argument to SCOTUS: 11th circuit had power to stay Cannon decision BUT it [could] not take the classified docs away from SM Dearie review. Nutty and if he won Dearie wd just say he won’t review the docs bc they are not Trump’s.”

University of Texas School of Law professor of law Steve Vladeck says that while the lawsuit is “not *entirely* laughable,” but he thinks “it’s both (1) doomed to fail; and (2) unlikely to accomplish much even if it succeeds.”

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says, “I would not be surprised if the Supreme Court decides not to hear it.”

 

 

 

Continue Reading

News

Biden Will Include DeSantis in His Visit to Support Florida Hurricane Victims

Published

on

President Joe Biden will travel to Florida Wednesday to support families devastated by Hurricane Ian, and will include the state’s GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, in his trip, the White House announced Tuesday.

Last week, asked if he would meet with DeSantis, a top detractor of the president, Biden told a reporter who asked, “I’ll meet with everybody who’s around. The answer is yes, if he wants to meet.”

“This is not about anything having to do with our disagreements politically, this is about saving people’s lives, homes and businesses,” Biden also said last week.

DeSantis asked President Biden for financial assistance for his state, battered by what experts say is one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history. DeSantis voted against relief aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy when he served in Congress.

President Biden and the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, will travel via Air Force One to Fort Myers, one of the hardest-hit areas of Florida by Hurricane Ian.

READ MORE: Watch: 2024 Presidential Hopeful Ron DeSantis Says ‘Cause for Concern Cause’ With Democrats Moving to Florida

But Fort Myers is also part of Lee County, where officials delayed evacuation orders.

“Lee County, which includes the hard-hit seaside community of Fort Myers Beach, as well as the towns of Fort Myers, Sanibel and Cape Coral, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day after several neighboring counties had ordered their most vulnerable residents to flee,” The New York Times reported. “By then, some residents recalled that they had little time to evacuate.”

“Lee County, which includes the hard-hit seaside community of Fort Myers Beach, as well as the towns of Fort Myers, Sanibel and Cape Coral, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day after several neighboring counties had ordered their most vulnerable residents to flee,” the Times added. “By then, some residents recalled that they had little time to evacuate.”

The St. Louis Post Dispatch blasted the Florida GOP governor, calling his “flip-flop on hurricane relief” a “study in right-wing hypocrisy.”

READ MORE: ‘Premeditated, Fraudulent, and Illegal’: Asylum Seekers Sue DeSantis After Being Sent to Martha’s Vineyard

“DeSantis’ willingness to shelve his usual attacks on the Biden administration to politely request emergency federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Ian is an inspiring example of constructive bipartisanship — as is Biden’s announcement that the government will bear a big part of the expense,” the Dispatch Editorial Board stated. “It’s interesting, though, that DeSantis took exactly the opposite stance a decade ago when he joined other hard-right members of Congress who argued against generous federal recovery aid when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast.”

Over the weekend DeSantis was blasted by volunteer relief aid workers who were delayed for hours in distributing “food, water, medicine, diapers, and anything else people needed” so Gov. DeSantis could get a photo-op.

 

Continue Reading

News

‘It’s a Lot More Nuanced, Peter, You Know This’: Karine Jean-Pierre Forced to Explain to Doocy the Price of Gas

Published

on

Fox News propagandist Peter Doocy on Tuesday challenged White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the price of gas, suggesting President Joe Biden is responsible for its increase but not its decrease. Jean-Pierre explained what global issues affect the price of gas, while explaining the “historic” steps President Biden has taken.

“You’ve said the President was responsible for gas prices coming down. Is the president responsible for gas prices going up?” Doocy asked.

Jean-Pierre was not about to let that pass to give Fox News a talking point.

“So, it’s a lot more nuanced than that, right, Peter, you know this,” Jean-Pierre pushed back.

READ MORE: Watch: Fox News’ Peter Doocy Admits There Are Republicans ‘That Don’t Agree With Voting Rights’

“There have been global challenges that we have all have dealt with – when I say all, meaning other countries, as well, have dealt with since the pandemic. There’s been pandemic and there’s been Putin’s war. And Putin’s war has increased gas prices at the pump.”

“We have seen that over the past several months and what the President was able to do, he took some historic steps. When you think about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and making sure that he, we were able to do everything that we can to bring that cost down for American families, give them a little bit more of a breathing room and we saw that we saw that every day this summer, over saving American families, over $1 per gallon. And so that is what the President is going to continue to stay focused on the American consumers. How do we continue to keep to keep prices down? That’s why we we did the inflation Reduction Act that’s why we talk about the Chips Act. All of these things are going to help Americans here in this country.”

Doocy rattled off some of the highest gas prices in the nation, asking, “who can afford that?”

READ MORE: ‘I Was Waiting Peter’: Karine Jean-Pierre Calls Doocy’s Claim ‘Ridiculous’ as He Presses About ‘MAGA Republicans’

“We understand that,” Jean-Pierre replied, expressing empathy, “that’s why the President worked so hard the past several months, to make sure that he did everything we can to bring gas prices down. We have seen fastest – I know you’re pulling out a couple of areas across the country and I get that, and we understand that there’s more work to do. We have never said we were done here. We have always been very clear that there is more work to do. But we have seen the reality is we have seen the fastest decline in gasoline prices in over a decade. That’s because of what this President has done. And again, prices going down by more than dollar per gallon and these are real savings are talking about $100 per month in savings for average family with two cars.”

Watch this short clip below or at this link.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.