ACLU opposes tax exemption for all churches

Crossposted from Stop The ACLU Imagine if a Church used the power of its tax exemption as a lever towards political campaigns. Can you imagine the outrage from groups like the ACLU if a Church used its tax exempt donations to create political ads opposing candidates that did not adhere to certain “American values” as interpreted by that Church? What if a Christian Religious organization were to use its official title to oppose certain political issues such as abortion? We don’t have to imagine, the ACLU’s history shows us. They would challenge that Church’s tax exempt status.

In 1970, the year after the ACLU issued its first policy opposing the tax exempt status for churches; it accepted the advice of church and state extremist Leo Pfeffer and drafted a brief opposing tax exemptions in Waltz v. Tax Commission. In 1987, the ACLU Foundation and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in support of Abortion Rights Mobilization to secure standing in a suit challenging the tax exempt status of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was charged with violating its tax-exempt status by taking a stand against abortion.”Source

However the ACLU’s official policy goes even further. In the ACLU’s eyes a Church doesn’t even have to be politically involved to deserve having its tax exempt status stripped.

During the 1988 presidential campaign the ACLU was brought under the spotlight. Michael Dukakis, the democrat nominee, proudly stated, “I’m a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union.” These words would soon come back to haunt him. I will not focus too much on this campaign other than using it as evidence of the ACLU’s position on the tax exemption of churches. However, Dukakis’s association with this group proved to be a major factor in his defeat. During the first debate, Peter Jennings of ABC asked George Bush why he continued to make an issue out of Dukakis’s membership in the ACLU. Bush replied that he didn’t like most of the ACLU’s positions and offered four of them. We will just focus on the one we are talking about right now. Bush said, “I don’t think they’re right to try to take away the tax exemption of the Catholic Church.”

The ACLU doesn’t deny their position! Norman Dorsen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1976 to 1991, refuted Bush’s statements, and said that the ACLU opposes tax exemption for all churches, not just the Catholic Church.Source Here is a little more history on the issue from Twilight of Liberty.

ACLU founder Roger Baldwin once told me that the ACLU’s desire to strip the churches of their tax exempt status was “very foolish.” But in 1969, some nineteen years after Baldwin stepped down as executive director, the Union adopted its first policy opposing “tax exemption for church property which is used exclusively for religious purposes.’ In the latest policy on this subject, it makes no difference to the Union whether church property is not used exclusively for religious purposes, all are denied: “The ACLU opposes tax benefits for religious bodies”, seven examples are listed for clarification, including the benefit of tax exemption.”Source

The ACLU proudly claims that they are “wholly non-partisan.” It portrays itself as an objective organization that is “neither liberal nor conservative, Republican nor Democrat.” They say instead that they are “a public interest organization devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties of all Americans.” However, while the ACLU was taking aim at the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status, the Union affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island, came out in favor of a tax exemption for Wiccans. They went and got a tax administrator to rule that a coven of witches were entitled the same tax-exemption as churches had. Does this sound like the position of a “nonpartisan” group? Does it sound like the position of a group that should be tax exempt? What happened to opposing tax exemptions on all religious bodies? Pick your policy. Either oppose it for all, or fight to expand it to all. You can’t claim non-partisanship while opposing it for one religious body and fighting to expand it to others. Now imagine if an organization claiming to be non-partisan used the power of its tax exemption as a lever towards political campaigns. What if this organization used its funds to create political ads opposing candidates that did not adhere to certain “American values” as interpreted by that organization? We don’t have to imagine, the ACLU’s hypocrisy shows us. It also has once again brought it into internal division as one local branch thinks it crossed the line. The Political Pit Bull has video of this being talked about on O’Reilly.

Leaders of the ACLU’s Connecticut affiliate have objected to an advertisement placed by the national ACLU that ran in the Hartford Courant late last month. The advertisement focused on Senator Lieberman, a Democrat who is running as an independent after losing a primary bid to an anti-war candidate, Ned Lamont. “Will Senator Joe Lieberman pass this test on American values?” the ad asks. It features Mr. Lieberman’s photograph and office telephone number, along with warnings about pending legislation about detainees, torture, and wiretapping. “Tell Joe Lieberman his votes on this assault on American values will help determine your vote in November,” the ad says. The chairman of the board of the Connecticut ACLU, Don Noel Jr., said he and several other board members felt it breached the organization’s pledge to stay out of electoral politics. “It seemed to us to cross the line on partisanship, or to cross the line on not being nonpartisan,” Mr. Noel told The New York Sun yesterday. “I have complained and the national office has agreed with me. They have said they are sorry this might have been seen as partisan.” NY Sun

The ACLU has consistently abused its tax exempt status by claiming to be non-partisan. However, a simple glimpse at the ACLU’s record shows many examples of how this is untrue. While the ACLU has proudly made abortion its number one priority it has not only ignored the free speech of abortion protesters but actively fought to silence them. William Donohue accurately argues:

Social reform, in a liberal direction, is the sine qua non of the ACLU. Its record, far from showing a momentary wavering from impartiality, is replete with attempts to reform American society according to the wisdom of liberalism. The truth of the matter is that the ACLU has always been a highly politicized organization.”Source

Throughout its history the ACLU has revealed its partisanship. It opposed the Viet Nam War. It demanded unilateral nuclear disarmament. It called for disinvestment in South Africa. It violated its own policy in order to stymie the nomination of William Rehnquist to the Supreme Court. During the eight years of the Reagan Administration, it blasted the President with one invective after another much as it does today with President Bush. It led the fight to defeat the confirmation of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court and more recently the confirmation of Samuel Alito. It frequently writes speeches for candidates that it likes. It lobbies its cause to Congress. Did you know that it has divided itself into two groups? The ACLU and the ACLU Foundation. This allows them to work the courts with one hand while being paid by taxpayer funding when the win, and lobby to Congress with the other. It even issues scorecards on Senators and Representatives evaluating their performance according to the ACLU’s own ideological measuring stick. Source The American Civil Liberties Union is destroying America’s culture and Constitution, while the federal government allows it to operate as a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization. Non-profit organizations are not supposed to spend their tax-exempt assets on political campaigning, because that is not the purpose for which they were given the exemption. Furthermore, if an organization is to benefit by claiming non-partisanship it should practice that concept consistently and be held to those standards, unlike the ACLU’s double standard practices. As a result of the above examples and much more, I believe that the ACLU has forfeited its right to operate as a tax-exempt organization. It is a political organization and should not be subsidized by my tax dollars. The IRS should do away with tax exemptions of political organizations hiding behind the mask of being non-profit and non-partisan. If only we could find some politicians willing to push for it.

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