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> of the way religion worked in the middle ages.

Still does. The local Catholic Church diocese here in eastern MA campaigned, from their PULPITS!!, against decriminalizing cannabis here in MA.

The only explanation I can think of: the less ways people have to be "bad," the less leverage the bishops have over the people.

That's different. Your parent was referring to indulgences, a pay for sin scheme. There's nothing wrong with religions choosing morals to preach - that's their raison d'etre - if you don't like what they choose, you can leave the church or attempt to change their choice (this is why we have freedom of religion).

> campaigned, from their PULPITS!!

Gosh, they're only supposed talk about abstract notions and lots of feel-goodies for everyone there.

Taking a stand in church on decriminalizing drugs...that's too far!

I may be wrong, but my understanding was that religious institutions benefiting from tax-free status in the US could not engage in "politics" that way.

Now if they were to preach against the use of drugs - that would be fine. But specifically preaching about decriminalization would not be OK.

> I may be wrong, but my understanding was that religious institutions benefiting from tax-free status in the US could not engage in "politics" that way.

I believe you to be wrong. The protections they receive on the free exercise of religion aren't a compromise attained in exchange for tax exemption -- both are the product of the first amendment. If Congress "shall make no law" respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion (or speech), then it has no power to prevent the churches from proclaiming whatever they wish.

The tax exemption is there because making a law that imposes a tax on religion is a means of prohibiting "the free exercise thereof", for most definitions of "free" and "exercise".

Your equation makes it something more like "You have the right to exercise free speech, so long as you agree not to yell fire in a theater," which is wrong. I have the right to free speech because the government is not allowed to restrict that right, and it includes the right to yell fire in a theater. If there are harms associated with my yelling fire in a theater, then I might be liable for those harms, but if no such harms occur, then I am liable for nothing.

(Reasonable, non-discriminatory) taxation does not infringe on those freedoms, which is why newspapers can be taxed, as well as gun sales or sales of bibles.

That depends on whether or not you consider those things to be rights, and whether or not you consider taxes to be infringements. Taxes on voting have been considered to be prima fascia discriminatory, despite having been largely categorized as reasonable. Why? Because it is considered de facto discriminatory against the poor.

That said, it isn't a matter of whether or not it infringes, but whether or not congress can make laws respecting them, and laws that tax religion are laws that were created to tax religion. Yes, I know that isn't a slam dunk argument, because it cuts into whether or not the tax is particular to the exercise, and whether or not the tax interferes with the free exercise of that religion, but it's worth pointing out that while your argument holds merit, there are meritorious arguments to the contrary.

Also worth noting that whether or not we can tax religion is an entirely different argument from whether or not we should tax religion, which is again a different argument from whether or not we would tax religion.

> That depends on whether or not you consider those things to be rights,

I think those things were chosen precisely because they are guaranteed by the same document (and in the case of newspapers, the very same amendment) as was under discussion.

Probably, but not everyone considers those things to be rights. Meanwhile, I tossed voting out because while it is patently a right, it is expressly not protected by that document.

Edit: I often forget that most people don't know the context to this. TLDR, there is no "right to vote" in the constitution. There are amendments that prohibit discrimination in the practice of voting, but if a state wanted to abolish elections for all people, they would not be infringing anyone's constitutional right to vote because no such right exists, as no such right is enumerated. Of course, not all rights are enumerated, but typically unenumerated rights are subject to lesser judicial scrutiny. Of course, this is not generally the case with voting and (lately at least) gay marriage, but altogether, this is a much longer discussion that is somewhat tangential to the argument at hand.

There are limitations (https://www.irs.gov/uac/charities-churches-and-politics), but only for actual candidates.

> [A 501(c)(3) organization] does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

Naturally, it would be absurd to prohibit every opinion about drugs, prostitution, taxes, immigration, discrimination, marriage, abortion, or murder.

To quote Thomas Mann, "Everything is politics."

As I understand it 501(c)(3)'s may preach about issues and topics, endorsing a side related to the issues. They may not however endorse a particular candidate in an election.

This is incorrect. They are not allowed to be partisan. So endorsing parties or candidates would be off the table.

If i remember correctly, there is a never-enforced federal statute forbading preachers from advocating for/against paticular politicians. It made sence back when written, but it's hard to imagine it ever enforced today.

Not the best citation but i am on a mobile.


It doesn't target churches specifically. But churches like to operate under 501c3 nonprofit charity status so they can avoid paying taxes, and part of the 501c3 tax regulation forbids supporting candidates. I was curious though and apparently they are allowed to spend some undefined small portion of their time and resources lobbying or talking about legislation.

>there is a never-enforced federal statute

The IRS is the agency that would enforce this by striping the organization of its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. The organization would then be subject to various taxes.

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