I won’t transcribe Roy Diteman’s letter published in the 19th of April 2013 edition to the Coeur d’Alene Press, but I will discuss it. Titled: “U.S.: It’s church v the state,” Mr Diteman bemoans the idea that up and until 1954 and apparently an act by then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson to grant a 501(c)3 status to churches, churches were free to do what ever they wanted and say what ever they wished. Well, I have yet to see churches being curtailed from doing what ever they want and saying whatever they wish since that time. And since that singular moment in 1954; churches have definitely been in the public arena and pushing political ideologies special to their own interests and agendas. If anything, since 1954, Christians who don’t see a government role in their religion and who don’t want a religious role in government; are going to be the people more greatly threatened with a loss of essential freedoms than the politically activist churches are right now. Right along with the threats to essential freedom of belief for all other minority religious views as well.
To the best of my knowledge the 501(c)3 status confers a tax exemption to nonprofits and charitable organizations. There is no question that it has been abused and very specifically for political purposes. Without question, the first thing that churches would have to be able to declare is that they are essentially nonprofit or provide charitable services. Well, I assume that the former and the latter are factual enough. Churches in the main would carry a nonprofit status and further provide charitable outreach to their communities. So, what would be the problem? And exactly how does this 501(c)3 status put the church’s finances directly in the hands of government? The above status makes the church tax exempt. They don’t have to declare something to the government in the way of income like a business must. What they don’t have to declare, the government as far as I know, doesn’t have a controlling interest in.
In more recent years, there have been arguments raised, that because churches have become too politicized, the buildings and properties have become fronts for well-financed political movements, to then eliminate their tax exempt status because they are no longer nonprofit and/or charitable. Well, Mr. Diteman could more thoroughly research what the New Testament says. Especially in that part of the bible that tells the “followers of Christ” that the scriptures are not a means to an end to achieve certain personal ambitions or to gain material power. Apparently, that is one scripture to ignore as churches literally do invite a government role into their very existence even as they demand a role in government. Not only does the bible not permit a political use of itself, but the first amendment tells us that government should be constrained from having any role what so ever in religions of any kind. Apparently, the churches ignore that too when a political agenda is being pursued. Then you have Article 6 to the U.S. Constitution that declares no religious tests are to be performed when politicians seek elected office. An article to also be ignored as the GOP in general runs on the most strident of religious platforms they can find. Then, on top of that, says some of the most goofiest things imaginable while catering to the politicized religious base. If Mr. Diteman wants to bemoan the “loss of freedom,” before he writes a letter, he should have a long heart to heart talk with a lot of different people.
I could start with the anti-abortionists who can’t stomach the idea that not everyone living in this nation today is going to think they way they do. Abortion as a politicized issue to coerce, through government, people to conform to this religious canon even if they aren’t believers. The “freedom of conscious” movement that wants government to confer certain rights and privileges to say pharmacists at drug stores or drug counters, to not fill a prescription if they don’t want to, on “moral grounds.” Well, their “moral grounds” that interfere substantially with other peoples’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One’s individual health being key to all of the above. Somehow, I don’t think that Christ would be applauding this politicized view of “freedom of conscious” that precludes charity, humanitarian concerns, and forgiveness of others. He could talk to the “TEA Party” people who slather pure hate and bigotry on the back of their trucks and cars while abusing the American flag and one of the flags of the American revolution. The more off the deep end these people portray themselves as being, the less inclined other people will be in even wanting to listen to them. Mr. Diteman could again refer to those teachings of Christ where he chastised those of his faith (Jewish), for literally pushing away people [through their actions and dogma], who would have desired to be believers as well. I am familiar with “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” I don’t see any sign of “love” in these “TEA Party” bumper stickers. He could talk to the religious letter writers who want government to be more activist on their behalf. Especially when it comes to wanting taxpayers to pay for vouchers for private religious schools. Or to push heterosexual marriage as an amendment to state constitutions. Or to demand coerced ultrasounds if woman are seeking to terminate their pregnancy. (How applicable would it be, that ultrasound, if a woman has a miscarriage?) After all, the more demands that politically activist churches make of government, the more freedoms they cost themselves and others.
The 14th of April, I turned 59. I gave myself a dinner and a movie at Red Robin, down at Riverstone, and watched “The Host” at Regal Cinema. In the days that followed, the horrific bombing of the Boston Marathon. Why it would trigger a memory of the terrorist bombing at the Munich Oktoberfest back in the early 80’s when I was still in Germany, I’m not quite sure. The two probably have no relationship at all. Well, beyond the fact that they happened to both be tourist attractions and an opportunity for someone to target a lot of people. A fertilizer production plant that blew up the next day with force enough to take out an entire town. My deepest sympathies to the victims and their survivors in both tragedies. The Senate keeps caving into the NRA instead of representing the people who voted for them. Apparently, 6 and 7 year old victims at Newtown, Conn. can’t be heard as well as the gun lobbyists constant whining about their toys! Well, 2014 is coming up and it just may be that the almost 90% of people who want to see an enhancement of gun safety and a reduced amount of gun tragedies will wake up and vote the people in who will make it happen.