Sunday, May 03, 2015

Counting the Cost

Following up on Bernie’s post from a few months back, David French at National Review has a few notable things to say on the subject of the looming hot-button issue of tax exemptions for charitable organizations, including churches (and presumably parachurch entities as well) in the U.S.

Canadians should note that we are rarely far behind on such developments.

This is the current IRS description of the scope of the tax exemption:
“The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.”
This ruling in Bob Jones University v. United States (1983), however, limits the exemption further. David French comments:
“The Bob Jones case, however, held that even if an entity fell within enumerated statutory categories — i.e., both religious and educational — the IRS could still lawfully withhold the tax exemption if the entity did not ‘serve a public purpose’ and was ‘contrary to established public policy.’ In other words, if the IRS could make a supportable finding that the tax-exempt entity was — in essence — harmful to civil society, it could withhold the exemption no matter the designated purpose of the organization.”
If “established public policy” with respect to homosexuals and transgender folk is heading in the direction we think it is, this puts every conservative local church or denomination south of the border in jeopardy of the loss of its tax-exempt status in very short order.

No man can serve two masters. If you haven’t built that new building yet, it’s a good time to start counting the cost.

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